BY SHARON MICHALIK, PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL BOOINI
Nothing can quite prepare visitors for the visual treats they are about to enjoy when stepping through the doors of David and Terrah Waynick’s condo. Situated directly on Panama City Beach’s long stretch of white sand and blue and teal hues of the Gulf, the beachfront home offers so much more than breathtaking views.
From the exterior, the three-unit wooden-sided complex blends with its neighbors on Gulf Drive. Behind door number three, however, the Waynicks have painstakingly renovated virtually every surface of a formerly classic, predictable, mirrored-wall condo into a truly unique blend of vintage and industrial, mid-century modern, antique, beachhouse “that just works on so many levels,” according to designer Terrah.
From the front hallway, clad in reclaimed wood from top to bottom, a caramel-colored vintage sofa offsets mismatched dining room chairs beautifully. Just beyond, a wall of windows framed in old ship’s cleats and rope offer views of the beach and the Gulf.
“I love that everything in our home has a story to tell,” Terrah says. It’s a collection of usual things used in unusual ways. “And I think that’s what’s missing when people just pick a collection of things that match, they miss out on the chance to tell a story about who they are. Your home should tell that story about you, about who you are and it should take you to your roots,” she nods. “You can’t get that from things that are cookie cut.”
Terrah explains that the hunt is just part of the fun. “We love estate sales and auctions where we can browse through and look for things with architectural elements, things that are memorable.” Highlighting those memorable items in unique ways in their home is even more important to Terrah and David. “I really like depth,” she says while surveying a wall that features an oversized mirror layered behind a large antique mantel that sits behind a vintage buffet. “I want to create something that requires you to stand there for a couple of minutes to truly appreciate it. And I want to use things that make you wonder who used it before, where has it been before?”
The Kentucky natives, who have been together for 20 years and married for 10, feel blessed to have the opportunity to design the beach-front condo of their dreams. After vacationing in the downstairs unit of their building (owned by a friend) they were thrilled when offered the opportunity to purchase their unit a couple of years ago. David, however, remembers struggling to see Terrah’s “great vision” when confronted with the 80s décor, mirrors on the dining room wall and the generic design elements that the first viewing revealed.
“But this is home now,” Terrah says, “We have the most amazing neighbors and Panama City Beach has become home. We’ve made beautiful connections with good people and this is a place where people want a small business to succeed. I love living in a community like that.”
“You couldn’t put a price on this place for me,” David adds.
While David works full-time as the postman at the Bay Point community, Terrah is the owner and creative vision behind The Shadow Box, a store on Thomas Drive “where shabby meets chic … and much more.”
The renovation and design work on their condo, a true labor of love and literal labor of hundreds of after-work late nights and early mornings, represents two years of the couple’s collective vision and reflects more than just their decorating sense. “When you truly connect with your partner like we do, the creative juices just start to flow and this just begins to happen,” Terrah says gesturing to the completely-renovated great room which encompasses their kitchen, dining space and living room.
While Terrah is an experienced designer, the two did not have extensive home renovation skills. David has had a lot of firsts as a result of the projects tackled in this renovation. “That’s the first flooring I’ve ever laid in my life,” he says, surveying the boards underfoot. He did a lot of research before tackling some of the bigger projects. “We relied on the help of family and good friends,” he acknowledges.
“We have confidence in each other,” Terrah adds. “When I met him he couldn’t change the oil in a car and look, he laid our floors and they are amazing!”
From one project to the next, as their skills grew so did their vision. The reclaimed wood hallway lead to reclaimed wood backsplashes in the kitchen and a shiplap wood wall feature in the great room. And then came the kitchen island. “Instead of browsing through catalogues, we made our countertop from reclaimed wood. We made our own and we have that story,” Terrah says proudly.
The couple is also very proud of their custom drapery ideas for the living room. “I wanted something unique, something that really made sense for our view and that’s when I came up with the idea of cleats and ropes,” Terrah explains. While the end product looks flawless, the process, according to David, was anything but. “Yeah, those cleats went up three different times,” he notes wryly. “And each time there was patching of the walls to be done. That was a process.”
Terrah’s business has inspired and perpetuated most of the designs. As has David’s enthusiasm. He has caught the design bug. “New vintage items come into the shop every day,” he says. “The other day, a ship’s barometer came in and I was quick to say, ‘Hey, can that come to the house?’ “
In fact, when pressed, the couple has a hard time naming “the most interesting” items currently in their collection. “There are the antique cameras, the sofa, and the ship’s gear on the coffee table,” muses Terrah. “The IBM train station clock,” adds David, gesturing to a large vintage clock that juts out from a living room wall- just as it would have from a train station wall decades ago. “Yes and I love the old globes and the mantle from New Orleans,” adds Terrah. “It’s hard to pick just one or two.”
Terrah divides her time between running her store, scouring the area, working with vendors to secure items to sell, and working with individual residential design clients. While the thrill of finding unique items, for her home or her store, is her “rush,” Terrah says she gets a deep sense of satisfaction from helping others make their houses into homes.
“I love the shop and it becomes my catalyst to do design work for different clients. When I work with someone in their home and can see that they love it, that’s when I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. That’s when I feel fulfilled on every level,” she says.
The Waynicks have been working on their three bedrooms and three bathrooms beachfront condo nonstop for about two years but are going to “take some time to just enjoy it” before tackling bathroom renovations,” according to Terrah. “Yeah, I keeping hearing that,” her husband adds with a grin. “We’ll see how long that holds.”
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