Couples Combine Families And Style In Shared Second Home
Fort Bend residents Mary Margaret and Lis Purdy are used to spending vacations together. Married to twins, the couples have travelled around the world with and without their seven children. When they began to investigate vacation homes, building something together seemed like the logical choice.
Mary Margaret and Justin were familiar with Carillon, Fla., through her family, and they had previously vacationed there. In 2009, they invited Ryan and Lis along, and the area instantly became a favorite. When they found themselves renting homes there several times a year, buying or building a home to accommodate both families became something that made sense. They found two adjoining lots, merged them and set out to build a vacation home to suit the needs of their extended family.
The top priority and guiding design principle was for the home to be open and comfortable enough for four adults, seven children and two sets of grandparents. The overall vision was clean lines with beach comfort and room for kids. Lis said, “We basically thought about all the vacations we had been on in the past, what we loved about those places and what we thought they were missing.”
They determined that the home should easily allow them to do all of the things they love to do together and provide a practical and thoughtful structure with timeless and durable finishes. For example, they love spending time on the beach, so to make that a practical activity suited to the home, a huge mud room was included at the back entrance so that everyone could easily dump their sandy clothes and swimsuits off in the washing machine as soon as they come inside. The timeless finish they selected to best accommodate the purpose was brick pavers on the floor.
Because they are inspired by different styles, they hired an architect who they felt would best be able to merge a little Southern traditional with the clean lines of modern architecture. They decided on Dungan Nequette out of Birmingham, Ala., after seeing many of their homes in the area. The architect recommended Regal Stephens for the construction of the project. Because they were building the home from a distance, they wanted to work with someone they could trust. Mary Margaret said, “Working with our team made the distance between us not seem as far because of the open and constant communication we had.”
As for interior design, Allyson Huth of Cru Home in Missouri City was their choice. After meeting with the homeowners several times, Allyson understood the importance of creating an environment that would be conducive to seven kids, while still upscale to match the home’s grandeur.
They chose a neutral color palette of blues and grays with splashes of coral and turquoise to keep with the coastal theme. Allyson said, “In vacation homes, there are generally big, open spaces, like the ones in this kitchen, living, dining and sunroom combo, so we created a flow between the spaces by using the same neutrals throughout and adding pops of color for accents.”
Also, beach home design is a little more unique than designing and decorating a typical family home. Not only did the couples want beautiful finishes, they required durability as well. Because having seven kids spells major wear and tear and because they plan to rent the house, they needed to select appropriate furnishings. They credit the designer with presenting options that facilitated durability, such as slip-covered couches and nearly indestructible coffee tables. “The better it looked weathered, the more we liked it,” they shared.
Combining the styles of two families also made things unique as well. Mary Margaret said, “Lis and I have different interior styles, but we commenced the project acknowledging this and making concessions for each other with our designer as our lead and mediator.”
To accommodate both owners’ tastes, Allyson blended the traditional with the modern in the common spaces, which have a cool, coastal vibe, while the two master suites are more reflective of the individuals’ tastes.
One challenge the team faced was making modifications to the architectural plans from 800 miles away once construction had begun. For example, in the kitchen the plans called for the farmhouse sink to be in the island and the cooktop to sit below three large windows. The problem they encountered was that there was no place for the hidden downdraft.
The couples consulted the builder, but they couldn’t figure how to get a vent to look good, so they made the decision to eliminate the windows. When the architect got wind of the change to his plan, he was not in agreement. They ended up moving the cooktop to the island and moving the sink below the windows to maintain the integrity of the plan. At the time, they couldn’t understand why the windows were such a big deal to the architect, but once the house was built, they quickly realized how completely different the entire main room would have looked without those windows. This challenge affirmed the couples’ belief in their team: “They knew what was best for us despite what we were thinking.”
A challenge faced by the designer was staying true to the luxury of the home while creating an environment where everyone could relax and enjoy the furnishings. With the larger furniture pieces, such as the sofas, they created extra slipcovers so that the homeowners would be able to replace one set while having the other set professionally cleaned. With young children and a beach atmosphere, a design must be more than beautiful; it must also be comfortable and functional.
As far as favorite spaces in the house, Mary Margarets is the sunroom. “With windows on two full walls, it feels like you are sitting in the forest. There is so much natural vegetation around the house that it makes you feel secluded even inside the community.”
Lis’ favorite room is the upstairs landing. The couples decided not to put many personal pictures up around the house since they plan to rent it out intermittently, but they did include one big wall of canvases of their kids at the beach. They went through “literally hundreds and hundreds of pictures of our kids at the beach” taken by Lis, who is a professional photographer, and picked their favorites.
The designer loves the bunk/game room because she was able to create a fun hang out for the kids. They selected a refurbished wood round coffee table and included four poufs around it to create a perfect place for drawing and games. The colors of this room are also a favorite: navys and grays with a pop of orange. Sea life pillows add a fun finish to the beds, and a Texas wall cubby pays respects to their home state.
They all agree that the mudroom is amazing. From the exposed reclaimed brick floor that helps with wet and sandy children, to the expansive storage, shelving, farm sink and windows with a lake view, “you can’t beat it!”
The couples love the end result, and after just a little tweaking — having to add on a front porch to follow the Design Review Board standards, for example — it looks just like the initial sketch they came up with Jeff Dungan at their first meeting.
All agree that creating this home was a minor miracle: two distinctly different couples in Houston collaborated remotely with an architect in Birmingham to build a Florida beach home featuring interiors by a Missouri City designer who had never been in the space prior to installation. Family vacations will now be even more special in this home they can call their own.
Text by Cheryl Alexander Photography by J Pamela Photography Interiors by Melinda Lacy, Unexpected Interiors
Renovations by Carl Kraft, Carl Kraft Construction Floral design by Michelle Kellett, Haute Flowers
TOP IMAGE: The living room is comfortable and functional with custom slipcover sofas in Slubby Greystone fabric and matching Kylee XL Chairs in Vinaya Sapphire Fabric from Four Seasons; honeycomb ivory and gray rug from Dash & Albert; custom metal fire screen from MSM Imports; local driftwood.