Overlooking the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle, a luxury oceanfront village known as Alys Beach contains several hidden gems. Surrounded by a verdant nature preserve, the town’s crisp, alabaster white houses form a harmonious cohesion that give way to playful interiors. One example, the Todd Home, is home to part-time Dubai residents Leslie and Jerry Todd and their two children, Justine and Brynley Todd. The beach house’s interior design reflects their penchant for traveling the world.
After buying their lot at Alys Beach—a luxurious planned community set along the scenic 30A corridor,—the Todds approached town architects Marieanne Khoury-Vogt and Erik Vogt after seeing some of their residential work. “The very first thing Leslie said to us was ‘I am unrelentingly symmetrical. I love symmetry and I want it in my house’,” recalls Khoury-Vogt. “That’s how the design process started and we delivered that.” The symmetry and restrained elegance of the home can be glimpsed in the sculptural, winding staircase, clean lines of the tall facade, and geometric coffered ceiling.
Just beyond its intentionally formal street facade, the interiors give way to an expansive oasis informed by Moroccan, Egyptian, and Moorish elements. “The front of the house doesn’t give any clue to those elements. It’s only once you’re inside that aspect of the design is disclosed,” says Vogt. As a result, “The home has a somewhat split personality by design,” reveals Khoury-Vogt.
The courtyard house, with its central patio area and expansive loggia, features both mashrabiya (traditional Islamic screens featuring intricately carved woodwork) and a repeated 8-sided star motif on the seafoam green doors and latticework. “Stylistically it’s not an explicitly Middle Eastern house, but the individual details, especially the courtyard, resonate in that way,” explains Khoury-Vogt. The open, symmetrical plan also includes Moroccan elements in the cabinetry and prominent use of Zellīj tile add to the overall effect, as well as landscaping centered around palms and cypresses.
Like the Todds, Khoury-Vogt hasn’t been rooted in one place, spending her childhood in the Middle East (Lebanon and Abu Dhabi), and formative years in Paris, all of which impacts her synergistic design collaborations. “Leslie has a very good eye and she furnished the house. But we had to make sure things were properly scaled to the size and scale of the rooms,” says Khoury-Vogt.
The Todd House is peppered with art and artifacts that the family has gathered from their travels over the years: “They have some beautiful pieces. Jerry’s mother is Egyptian and there was an old wood cabinet that she had held on to, so it was repurposed into the overall house,” discloses Khoury-Vogt. The carved doors of the cabinet now have a permanent home as part of Jerry’s office bookcase.
“It’s a reflection of their life,” says Vogt, “and it makes the experience of the home that much more meaningful because they can point to all these objects that they’ve collected during their travels.”
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