I recently had the pleasure of photographing a friend’s vacation home in Seacrest Beach, along Highway 30a. In case you aren’t from around here, Scenic Highway 30a is located in Florida’s panhandle, where some of the most inspiring beach towns ( Seaside, Alys Beach, and Rosemary Beach) in Florida can be found. I’ve become a bit spoiled by these beaches. The water is always crystal clear, there has yet to be a moment where we HAVEN’T seen dolphins swimming in the distance, and there is so much architectural inspiration to be found in these quaint little beach towns.
Abnous Samford is long time friend and an optometrist from Birmingham, Alabama. Casa Rosa 30a belongs to her family, and she recently took on the job of overseeing the remodel for this 1990s beach home. That’s right. She’s a doctor. And she designed this space without the help of a decorator or interior designer. She also never stepped foot into a store. Every single item from the sink cabinets, tile, rugs, artwork, sofas, beds, bedding…everything was ordered online! It takes me 5 years to commit to putting anything on my walls so Abnous must be some sort of superhuman to have done all of this so quickly from her home office in Birmingham, Alabama. Thankfully, Abnous has agreed to do a Q&A - so we can find out more about her superhuman design skills! She also was kind enough to share links of many of her purchases so keep scrolling!
Stacy: What was the inspiration behind the Casa Rosa 30a remodel and how long have you been tucking ideas away for your families beach home?
Abnous: Growing up in Tallahassee, we were just a stone's throw away from this beautiful stretch of beaches (which I totally took for granted, of course). We would vacation on 30A before it was the bustling 30A most people know today. After many years of renting, my parents finally decided to buy this house and it came completely furnished. Since we were renting the house out ourselves, we really didn’t do much but maintain it over the years. But once our family started to grow, we sort of started outgrowing the house. We started toying with the idea of making some changes to open up the living room to provide more seating. One idea was enclosing the front porch (which we never used anyway) and making it into a separate dining room. Well, obviously this snowballed into a full renovation and here we are! As soon as I got the green light from my dad that the project was a go, I started saving ideas on Pinterest. There are so many inspirational designers out there and I think I just soaked in all these amazing spaces and just tried to put my own spin on them. Knowing that the process would likely take awhile, I started collecting art first. I knew I wanted to have a lot of original, fun art in the house and that it would take time to find the right pieces.
Stacy: Did you work with an architect? How involved were they in the design process? I mean…everything fits together so perfectly…did you take all the measurements and lay out the rooms yourself?
Abnous: We worked with an architect to draw up the details for the two porches we were enclosing, but that was really the extent of her design input. I literally lived and breathed this beach house for two years. I spent hours online researching and my own house was filled to the brim with boxes, to the extent of which at one point my 6 year old son started telling his friends he thought we were moving. Listen, I’m no interior decorator, BUT I love good design, I know what I like and I just took rooms that inspired me and tried to make them my own.
Stacy: First online purchase to the last online purchase…how long did it take to gather everything for the home? Did you have moments where you questioned and labored over your decisions? I tend to constantly fill up online shopping carts and abandon them - so coming from someone with commitment issues I’m EXTREMELY inspired.
Abnous: So here’s the deal. I was a total rookie when it came to construction and dealing with a contractor. Especially one that was working on a house that was 5 hours away that I could not physically oversee. So even though I knew it was going to take some time, the project was delayed by almost a year. Like with any renovation project, there were some unexpected setbacks like rot around windows, leaks in the roof and a major hurricane that ravaged the panhandle just east of us. Needless to say, I had A LOT of time to think about my purchases. I had a Pinterest board designated to each room in the house where I would save ideas regularly. Then I would go back and narrow these ideas until I had a good picture in mind of what I wanted that space to be. That's when I would start researching and saving links for individual items to purchase for each room and just cross my fingers (and toes) that they would work. Because I did do a lot of research and visualization of the spaces, I usually did not have a problem pulling the trigger on the actual purchases. I'm not really an indecisive person anyways, so I think that helps. I did end up purchasing a lot of the smaller decorative items way ahead of time (read: all the boxes at my house), but most of the larger furniture items had to be shipped directly to the beach house, so those had to wait. I had to time these orders perfectly beacuse you didn't want to order things too soon that would be damaged during construction and you didn't want to wait too long because they would be out of stock or unavailable. I can't tell you how many times I found the perfect bed or the perfect dresser only to have to start the search all over again because it was no longer available when I was ready to buy it! This experience has been one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding things I have ever done. We went through a lot to get here, but the finished product is so worth it.
Stacy: Unlike my own home, which is mostly Ikea or West Elm - your items came from so many different stores! Who was your favorite brand to work with - as far as delivery time, customer service, and overall product satisfaction?
Abnous: I love IKEA and West Elm, too! But, I would have to say Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters were my go-to sites. I can't say that they were the best for delivery time and customer service, but I think they have the best furniture for the most affordable prices.
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