After choosing this lot near the corner of North Charles Street and McGee Drive, the homeowners, Charles and Jean Li, hired architect Paul Geary of T.S. Adams Studio to create the vision for what was to become their year-round home here at Alys Beach. They then gave Geary leeway to run with his ideas. For Geary, the inspiration came from several places, including the lot itself.
“This lot afforded a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t normally get in a typical lot that might be more narrow and confined,” Geary says, whose firm has designed several homes at Alys Beach.
He wanted to take maximum advantage of the views provided by a generous, 17-foot setback on the McGee Street side and the straight view to the Gulf down North Charles Street — while looking to historical architecture and design ideas that have evolved in more recent years.
“You get inspiration from different places—including of course what the homeowner wants—then you end up interpreting that inspiration in a way that becomes something totally unique.”
Geary says the great room quickly became a central point of the design. Nearly 20 feet at its peak, the room features a detailed series of beams and a ceiling of white oak. That leads into the gourmet kitchen that is open to the great room but has distinct, lower 12-foot ceilings and a clean, contemporary aesthetic.
The builders of this home were Koast Builders, owned by Kent Kolovich and Russ Astin (“Koast” comes from combination of their last names). Astin points to several features of the house that set it apart, including the Venetian plaster the homeowners chose for the interior and the main entry with its mahogany gates and door.
Another one of Astin’s favorite features is the floating staircase which climbs aside a dramatic window that goes up two and a half stories, creating a flood of natural light that leads up to the tower level, where Geary designed a cantilevered bay suspended out eight feet from the house. The observation room is surrounded by glass. “It gives the homeowners an area where they could put day beds, and as you’re sitting there, you can see all the way to the Gulf of Mexico,” Astin says.
For Astin, the end product is more than just a beautiful home—it’s a legacy. “If you think about the houses at Alys Beach, the architecture and thought and process of making everything fit, there is so much detail that is one-of-a-kind. These are fully custom designs that will never be built again, by anybody.”