Designer Chad James elevates a beach house with refined millwork and well-traveled antiques.
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The warm white sand, deep green waters, and impossibly blue horizon of Florida's Gulf Coast called. Pete and Alice Lyders yearned to build a home here—a house on the beach that transcended the ubiquitous beach house.

beachside deck with loungy outdoor furnishings
Credit: Jean Allsopp

"They didn't want blue-and-white stripes and sand dollars," designer Chad James says. "They envisioned a family home with more elevated interiors that would feel timeless—not something that was built yesterday but a home that's been loved on, a place memories have been made."

beachside deck nook with wicker daybed
Credit: Jean Allsopp

A wicker daybed on the patio offers an inviting getaway in one alfresco nook. Low-slung and loungy outdoor furnishings from Harbour ensure casual comfort on the beachside deck.

dining room with 12-foot-long table overlooking ocean
Credit: Jean Allsopp

Inside the new home's cedar shake exterior, James shaped spaces defined by traditional millwork—from the paneling that cocoons the walls of the entry and staircase to the tongue-and-groove ceilings.

Against this backdrop, he incorporated gathering areas that are at once sophisticated and sensible for a couple with four young-adult children and three large-breed dogs. "Performance fabrics were a must," James says. "But they look so good now, you don't have to sacrifice style for easy care."

In the dining room, a 12-foot-long dining table by Jonathan Burden welcomes the whole family.

beach house entryway with wood paneling and hand-carved gilt chandelier
Credit: Jean Allsopp

Antiques and art act as centerpieces in each well-appointed gathering space in the open-plan home. "These visual landmarks pull you to them, from one to the next," James says. "It creates a sense of a journey as you move through the house."

An antique pedestal greets visitors in the entry. James applied layers of pigment on top of custom wood paneling for a deep, rich look that's unexpected in a beach house where light driftwood tones often reign. A dark-tone parquet floor and hand-carved gilt chandelier complete the space.

screen porch with beachy casual dining room
Credit: Jean Allsopp

"I'm really detail-oriented," James says. "On Day 1 of this project, I started a quest to find the right curiosities for this home. I discovered these things on my travels. Everything has a story, and every piece creates a special moment."

To make the most of the home's setting, James opted for a casual dining spot on the screen porch rather than an indoor breakfast room.

beachy living room and kitchen with hanging fishing floats installation
Credit: Jean Allsopp

An art installation by Kelly Farley—fired clay spheres that emulate vintage fishing floats—cascades from the ceiling in the living area that adjoins the kitchen. Patinaed urns demarcate the dining space, and an antique shagreen table offers a refined landing spot in the salon at the rear of the great room, where a conical reflector from an old lighthouse becomes art and vintage seabird figurines from the Paris zoo perch on the fireplace mantel.

"Everyone wants to gather in the kitchen," James says. So the designer sited a living area adjacent to the cooking space for the great room. The showpiece front kitchen features a pewter island countertop, cabinets with pretty pressed-flower fronts, and "Conique" chandeliers from Mattaliano.

Throughout the house, plasterwork, too, imbues a sense of timeless craft. "The plaster walls give a nod to the white sand of the beach outside," James says. "Although the plasterwork is smooth, you can see the sand granules."

beachy neutral living room with blue and green accents
Credit: Jean Allsopp

In the gathering areas of the salon, rugs with a pattern that emulates moving water and the colors of the sea oak tree, sand, and sea celebrate the ocean outside the French doors.

Classic pilasters frame the frieze-crowned fireplace, which adds a warm glow to Florida nights. The aesthetic repeats on millwork topped by shapely corbels that hug raw ceiling beams and visually separate each gathering area.

back kitchen with marble shelves
Credit: Jean Allsopp

James divided the kitchen into a front showpiece space and a back work space. The island offers a splash of dark green that jibes with both the gathering areas' blue fabrics and the kitchen's black metal cabinets. "The color is almost black—like the darkest color of a magnolia leaf," James says.

Dark, grounding color repeats on subway tile in the back kitchen, the place where cleanup happens, hidden from living areas by the strategically placed range wall. Cabinets hold staples, while open shelves keep everyday dishware at hand. "I wanted to make it easy—grab and go," James says. Marble shelves add subtle elegance to the high-function work and storage space.

green chaise lounge in master bedroom nook
Credit: Jean Allsopp

Function for the family was important, as was celebrating this special place. "I wanted to bring the outdoors in with the palette," James says. "Whenever I start a project, I look at the environment outside—the palette of that place. Here, the gulf turns a deep green. That was my inspiration, along with the blue of the deepest horizon, the white sand, and the bark color of the sea oak tree."

Green rises to its full glory in the primary bedroom, where it covers walls and an inviting chaise. Nature's inspiration also comes through in the canopy bed with cast-bronze posts in the form of branches.

master bedroom with cast-bronze bed and blossoming tree wallpaper
Credit: Jean Allsopp

James collaborated with designer Jiun Ho on the bed design, a spin on the cast-bronze "Aomori," but with canopy rails. Wallpaper from Fromental continues the nature-inspired theme.

master bathroom with chandelier hanging above stone tub
Credit: Jean Allsopp

In the primary bath, a chandelier from Jonathan Browning Studios illuminates a luxurious stone tub.

blue bunk room overlooking ocean
Credit: Jean Allsopp

Blue, meanwhile, crescendos in the bunk room. "While one side of the house faces the gulf, the other side looks out to a lake, where the water is deep blue. That was my inspiration here," James says.

A bunk room took the place of the sitting room originally intended for this space. "This is a family house that they hope to enjoy for years to come," James says. "Eventually, there probably will be littles running around."

blue and white guest bedroom with patterned wallpaper
Credit: Jean Allsopp

Blue and white take center stage in a guest bedroom where walls wear a Zak+Fox paper. "It's a charming Southern moment," James says.

beachy neutral bedroom with seagrass bed
Credit: Jean Allsopp

A seagrass bed from Palecek layers texture into a bedroom designed for the homeowners' daughter, who prefers neutrals.

portrait of homeowners pete and alice lyders and their great dane missy
Homeowners Pete and Alice Lyders and their Great Dane, Missy.
| Credit: Jean Allsopp

Throughout the home, French doors open to outdoor living areas that take full advantage of beachy views and warm sea breezes. Comfortable furniture groupings provide plenty of seating for alfresco entertaining. "Everyone can find a place to curl up in," James says.

exterior of beach house with cedar shakes
Credit: Jean Allsopp

Exterior Cedar shakes will turn a beautiful dark gray through the years, giving a feeling of age.

"I love how Chad was able to include our different personalities in the design while creating a cohesive home," Alice says. "He juxtaposed the traditional look we love with moments that spark imagination. Every nook and corner is beautiful, elegant—and fun."

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