2015 Coastal Living Beach Cottage is Vintage Seagrove
September 30, 2015 by Audrey Johnson
You could call Mark and Paige Schnell the SoWal dynamic design duo. They just might have tights and capes underneath their casual beachwear. Each has a thriving and creative business that requires wearing several hats. When you first meet either of them you would probably be fooled.
Fooled into thinking they are just a laid back, fun-loving couple living on beach time in Seagrove Beach. Just hanging out on the front porch. And yet they've taken on another huge project which leaves them not nearly enough time on the sand. Their latest endeavor is impressive to us locals, but also making people elsewhere take notice.
Mark starts describing it, and sounds like the artist he is.
“You try to bring to structure to what the place is, even if it’s small, through a feeling or a color,” says Mark.
What he's talking about is the rebirth of a Seagrove cottage that Coastal Living magazine is featuring in their upcoming December-January issue as the 2015 Coastal Living Beach Cottage. The attention is something that Paige and Mark handle easily, and they appreciate it when others notice their good work.
Mark is architect and owner of Schnell Urban Design. He's grown his skills and reputation through years of carefully planning communities. He's also an expert on Seaside and loved giving tours of the town to share his love.
Paige is the designer and creative force behind Tracery Interiors. Her talent is well known in South Walton and beyond. Her beautiful book on interior design graces many coffee tables - Tracery, The Art of Southern Design, written with local author Lynn Nesmith. [Order it online or stop by Tracery in Rosemary Beach for a signed copy.]
The Seagrove cottage project has Paige and Mark teaming up with local Peter Horn of Artisan Builders. Peter is an essential part of the project. In addition to orchestrating his team of craftsmen, he has the added pressure of meeting the deadline for the magazine article. And even before that, the house will be open for ticketed tours starting in October, with proceeds donated to three local charities. You can tour the cottage and hang on the porch like a SoWal local.
Ready for action!
Paige is a member of the Southern Living/Coastal Living network of designers and completed her first idea house design in 2012. But this project takes on a special role because it will be Mark and Paige’s personal residence upon completion.
“This will be our sixth project together and I think we learn something every time,” says Paige.
The creative couple are often bouncing ideas back and forth, even in their "down time". Whether shopping for interesting antiques or entertaining friends and family, one thing is for sure. They appreciate character.
“The fact that it’s an old Seagrove cottage, we leaned toward making it funky,” says Paige.
For Mark, creating 2,500 square feet of functional space out of the existing structure is a challenge. As an architect and planner, Mark's attention spans a huge range from from small but important details like deciding where to put a light switch, to drawing an entire 500-acre master plan with parks and homes. He recently planned the community of Cinnamon Shores in Texas, and Paige helped with many of the neighborhoods design details.
“We like big open spaces,” he says. “When we bought the house we knew it had some quirks.”
About halfway through
But for the dynamic design duo, the home creates a challenge that boxes them in just enough. “The existing space made us reverse our thinking as opposed to the addition,” he adds.
One of the perks of designing a Coastal Living project is including product sponsors in the mix. “You get to use a product that you might not have used before,” says Paige. (Sunbrella will shoot their ad campaign in the cottage this fall.)
But it’s not just the new products that are getting some love. The remodel process has given Mark and Paige a chance to strengthen relationships with several local businesses.
“You can pick up a paint chip and go down the road to Grayton and find it. It’s a really direct thing,” says Paige.
The big addition
The Coastal Living Beach Cottage will be open for tours Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 8–Nov. 22, with special dates during Thanksgiving week. (Open Monday, Nov. 23-Wednesday Nov. 25, closed Thanksgiving Day and open Friday, Nov. 27-Sunday, Nov. 29.) Tickets are $25 each and proceeds will benefit local non-profits Food For Thought Outreach, Alaqua Animal Refuge and Seaside Repertory Theatre.
During the tours, take a walk through the gate modeled after old-west saloon doors and follow the boardwalk across the front yard to experience the dark grey cottage with its original porch railing still intact. The tour continues into the cottage to the open living space and to the 600 square foot addition on the back of the house. Ultimately, the tour ends in the added two-car garage where you can pick up information on products and services that inspire - to create new looks for your own home.
Follow progress of the Coastal Living Beach Cottage here on SoWal.com, on Coastal Living's website, and on social media using #clbeachcottage.
Heart of old Seagrove