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Dream Homes: By The Beach

 By Val Schoger, Photography by Matt Koehnemann

Dothan residents Angie and Gary McCord have built their home-away-from-home; a three-story beach house, in a quiet area on the west end of Panama City Beach. The neighborhood is known as Santa Monica and consists of around 80 houses adjacent to a wide stretch of collectively owned beach. Just a few steps away from the Gulf of Mexico, the McCord’s house is abuzz with laughter when the family arrives and spends quality time enjoying outdoor activities.

Homeowner Angie McCord and interior designer Rebecca Marsella invite us to a tour of the spacious and airy home and point out the concepts and custom features that make it unique.

Every aspect of the house perfectly suits weekend-vacations with a distinct beach-cottage-feel, despite the fact that with its size the house can certainly not be described as a cottage. The stairwell and elevator connect the three floors, each combining living space with the outdoors and each with its own purpose and functionality. Two bedrooms on the first and two more bedrooms and a study on the upper floors accommodate the entire family.

French doors on the first floor lead to a large terrace and an enclosed outdoor pool. “The first floor is completely tiled so that we do not have to worry about coming from the sandy beach into the house,” Angie explains as she walks through a small kitchen to two separate bedrooms, each with its own bath. “This area of the house is perfect for our two kids. They have their own small kitchen and plenty of space.” She adds that the tile flooring is indestructible.

One flight of stairs above, the bright and airy open-concept kitchen and living space boasts panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. Angie admits it is her favorite room. Family photos are set up on one of the cabinets and she points to a beautifully framed photo of her mother, taken on the beach many years ago. “The first houses in this neighborhood were built in the 1930s and my mother vacationed here as a child.”

The kitchen island was custom built by Woodham’s Cabinet Shop Inc. and stained and finished by Bliss Custom Finishes.

The kitchen island was custom built by Woodham’s Cabinet Shop Inc. and stained and finished by Bliss Custom Finishes.

Floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry can be seen in the kitchen and Angie remarks that all cabinets and furniture in the house were custom built and finished. “Everything is designed to maximize storage space and takes advantage of the height of the ceilings. You can never have too much storage,” Rebecca Marsella adds.

A double fan hums overhead and hues of emerald and light teal and shades of white and grey blend perfectly with views of the beach and Gulf, only contrasted by the warm tones of wooden flooring that stretches in irregular lengths and widths from the stairwell to the rooms on the second and third floors. “Our flooring is reclaimed hardwood. We love the different tones of light and dark. We will leave it natural, without applying a finish.” Angie explains that her husband owns a flooring company in Dothan and has supplied all the flooring in the house, from the solid wood floors to the marble and natural stone in the bathrooms.

The McCords have owned three homes in PCB since 1992 but this is the first vacation home that was custom built. “One of our must-haves for this house; we wanted to make the most of the views and take full advantage of the location,” Angie states. “Our builder, Koehnemann Construction, has specialized in waterfront homes and we customized everything. Even the views are by design. The builder placed the house in an angle on the lot so that we would have views of both the sunrise and the sunset.”

Just like downstairs, large French doors open up to the outside and the spacious balcony with a large outdoor kitchen feels like an extension of the living area. “This house is distinctly different compared to the other houses we owned – it has the most beautiful views. The outdoor kitchen is perfect and we don’t even want to go out. We enjoy our outdoor kitchen the most.”

Designer Rebecca Marsella has sought out many of the unique décor items that can be seen throughout the house such as the intricately patterned tin sheet from the 1920s that she had custom painted and installed above the kitchen island.

Other unique design elements can be seen in the bathrooms. All light fixtures are unique and were painstakingly installed through the mirrors so that the light and the fixtures are reflected. “It was a difficult task for the construction crew,” remembers Rebecca. “But the end result adds light and space.”

Angie McCord, home owner.

Angie McCord, home owner.

Entering the third flight, a media room offers spacious seating around an oversized television. It is a sports fan’s dream-come-true with a large custom designed bar and the added bonus of breathtaking vistas of the Gulf of Mexico. Again, there are large French doors that lead to a spacious balcony. Angie explains, “This room finds most use during football season. We enjoy watching sports with family and friends and this is the perfect room for fun gatherings and has the best views in the house. We wanted to feel comfortable during our time here. Our family and friends should feel invited to put their feet up. Our goal was to have a functional and beautiful home and we love it.”

Now that she has spent several weekends enjoying all the features of her new vacation home, is there anything she would like to change, we ask. She replies with a smile, “The study might be converted into a nursery in the future but that’s wishful thinking.”

Val Schoger

After nine years of working in media, PR and marketing with international engagements in Germany, England, the Caribbean, and the United States, Val first traveled to the Gulf Coast and subsequently to Navarre, Florida in 2003. She was immediately smitten with Northwest Florida and considers it her chosen home. She is excited about the opportunity to share perspectives, innovative ideas, and success stories as the publisher of a magazine that helps promote one of Florida's fastest growing areas.

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