A Different WorldThe Todd Home
It takes no time upon entering the home of Leslie, Jerry, Justine, and Brynley Todd to understand the adventurous nature of the lives they live. The Todds have traveled and resided all over the world—most recently 20 years in Dubai—and have had exposure to a wide variety of architectural and design styles. They’ve also taken advantage of the opportunity to acquire beautiful art, textiles, and ideas along the way. All of it comes together in their new home at Alys, which was designed by town architects Erik Vogt and Marieanne Khoury-Vogt with project manager, Jason Hill.Words by Rosalind Fournier Photography by Nicola Harger Film by Resolute
With Erik and Marieanne, the Todds immediately found kindred spirits as fellow travelers. “Having been in the Middle East for the last 20 years, we are partial to an Arabesque style of architecture and aesthetic,” Leslie says. “Marieanne has Lebanese heritage, so we meshed very well together.”
Marieanne echoes that. “That was one of the very first connections that we made. They are extraordinarily well traveled, and we’re lucky in that we are, too. So we immediately found multiple common reference points that became touchpoints for design.”
An early choice they all seized on was the height of the ceilings, which soar higher than 15 feet at points to create a commanding sense of space and reflect a scale more common in the Middle East, where high ceilings help keep living areas cool. There was also a spillover effect, with furnishings selected or placed to accommodate the scale, and a unique winding staircase that Marieanne describes as “modest but sculptural,” designed for a tall climb that isn’t overwhelming. “We knew there would be many stairs to ascend from the first floor to the second, so there are multiple landings to ease the climb.”
A Moroccan-star motif runs throughout the house, with several screens incorporated into the design and painted subtle variations of a pale, calming, greenish-blue accent color reminiscent of the shore, a color they hand-tweaked as they went by adding more or less white until it felt just right. For the floors downstairs and extending into the courtyard, they chose Dominican shellstone, accompanied sparingly with monochromatic cement tile to create the effect of small carpets in some places.
Like the tall ceilings, the Todds’ courtyard was designed to bring down the temperature during the hottest parts of the year. The space is sheltered by high walls and a full canopy from palm trees at each corner of the pool. For those who crave the sun’s rays, the house also features an ample sundeck upstairs as well as built-in day beds at the edge of the courtyard.
With input from Erik and Marieanne, Leslie dedicated much of her time to doing all of the interior design herself, drawing on a wealth of pieces and inspirations they’ve found over the years.
“Over the past 25 years, we’ve moved often,” she says. “I’ve probably decorated 15 places during this time. So I’ve had a lot of practice, and Marieanne and Erik were great thought partners throughout the process. What’s really nice is that a lifetime’s worth of things we’ve collected from so many diverse places seem to all fit so naturally here in this home.”
These include furniture pieces in the living room from a Lebanon-based company called Bokja whose work Leslie admires, including a favorite bench and two chairs featuring coral and seahorses that feel like perfect fits for Alys. “They’re artwork,” she says. “The textile work is amazing, and the embroidery is done in a Palestine refugee camp outside of Beirut. These are some of the unique pieces I love that we have in our house.”
One of Jerry’s favorite pieces, meanwhile, is a treasure from his childhood that has a new home after decades of travel and storage before finding its purpose. “When I was a kid in Cairo, my parents had a dartboard cabinet made with carved mashrabiya doors,” he says. “Since the late 1980s it had been lugged around from place to place, sitting in storage and never used. We ended up incorporating the doors from that piece into the bookcase in my office. I’m glad they finally have a permanent home.”
In a sense, their Alys house also represents the first true home base the Todds themselves have enjoyed in years. Though they will be spending much of their time in Saudi Arabia beginning this fall, the Todds say they’ve put down roots in Alys, getting to know the neighbors and falling in love with the area.
And while the interior of the home speaks in many ways to their international lifestyle, Erik notes that in some ways it’s like a hidden gem—a house with a different kind of beauty on the outside that leaves plenty to the imagination.
“The façade is really composed as a more Georgian house in style, not Moroccan or Arabic,” he says. “And we all like that aspect. Outside it’s Alys Beach... and then the interior is a different world.”