A modern Alys Beach home designed by Khoury & Vogt borrows lessons from ancient Romans, creating an artful, elemental playground for a young family of six.
"You can’t build a house in the middle of the ocean,” admits Alys Beach, Florida, homeowner Dan Castro. “We knew this. But when our architects asked us what we wanted, we said, ‘Water, water, everywhere.’ We wanted to replicate what the ocean does for you, the way it relaxes you both physically and mentally.”
Castro wasn’t speaking in abstracts. The ideas he developed with local architectural firm Khoury & Vogt for his family’s unbuilt beach house were precise and refreshingly original: among them, an ultra-serene master suite designed around an open-air courtyard and fountain; a rim overflow rooftop swimming pool; and a soaring, Pompeii-esque atrium with a glimmering splash pool. Novel as these feel behind the doors of an American beach house, they are fitting in the somewhat undiscovered coastal enclave of Alys Beach. Here, whispers of Antiguan and Guatemalan architecture, with plentiful hits of Moorish influence, whoosh through lush allées and sun-drenched courtyards like white-hot secrets. It’s arguably the most low-profile of the New Urbanism resort communities along Florida’s western panhandle. “The town truly is a hidden treasure,” says Castro.
His wife, Anna, grew up down the road in Destin (the couple’s full-time home is in Palm Beach), yet neither were familiar with the tiny town until they visited at the suggestion of her parents.
“We felt like we were in a different world,” recalls Castro. “There’s a very European vibe here.” That’s all it took for the pair to seek out the very same design team—Marieanne Khoury-Vogt and Erik Vogt—who’d dreamed up the town’s expansive pool, with its romantic sun canopies and exotic mesh panels.