exterior of new home beach house at watersound 30A florida. design by darci hether new york for empty nester clients.

a trip to the beach is my version of the perfect retreat.  the salty sea air, miles of sandy coastline, and tranquil water!  what’s not to love?  all of these elements conjure up feelings of peaceful relaxation and the ultimate form of decompression.  and bonus, what about the excitement of visiting some truly stunning vacation beach houses?

outdoor dining area with double sided fireplace of new beach house build at watersound florida 30A.

alas, a beach vacation is usually not a regular occurrence for me personally. so, imagine how excited me and my team are when we get to kick-off the design process for a new vacation beach house project.  we’ve had the distinct pleasure of designing several beach houses in one of our favorite vacation destinations in the u.s., alongside scenic highway 30a along florida’s gulf coast.  the 24 miles of coastline boasts of gorgeous beach communities such as watersound, alys and rosemary.  these picturesque coastline communities are a haven for second homes with a beautiful range of architectural styles.  

outdoor living room with tv above fireplace of new beach house build in watersound florida 30A. design by darci hether new york.

a long-distance relationship: working successfully in 30a

we strongly rely on utilizing our buttoned-up processes and detailed project management prowess. in doing so we have provided not only our clients but our local trades with an exceptionally favorable design and construction process.  we feel it is hugely important to foster relationships with local architects, contractors, material showrooms and area workrooms.  over the past several years we have aligned our firm with amazing local trades on 30a and this has greatly added to our success in being able to work remotely.  and of course, technology has also played an important role in all of our long-distance projects. 

communication is king!  while we rely heavily on capturing important information and documentation through email, we are always happy to jump on a facetime call.  it’s our own version of being a modern-day “i dream of jeannie” – transporting our team with eyes on the screen when we can’t be boots on the ground.  speaking of boots on the ground, we make it a point to be on site – live and in person – during critical phases of construction.  the electrical and plumbing walk-through is so important – as is tiling layout and installation – and these in-person meetings are crucial to the outcome of a beautifully designed beach house.  we strongly believe that thoughtful attention to detail matters and these few areas of a project are where we feel the ultimate success of a design can either soar or take a nosedive.  

colorful beach house loft living room at 30A florida property designed by darci hether.

keeping it coastal: not your average beach house

so, what makes a dhny beach house design different from a typical beach house stereotype?  we all have seen the classic nautical blue and white striped color scheme or the artwork with pastel colored images of coral and seashells.  while this design style might work for some, here at dhny we want to offer something different than the typical coastal color palette or scheme.  we like to infuse one part urban flair, two parts beach living.  drawing inspiration from our go-to citified color palette, we warm it up and soften it out to achieve an overall tranquil and soothing design.  and of course we like to add in a few carefully selected accessories and accents to layer in a tastefully inspired beach house feel. 

great room with beach tones and a gold metal fireplace surround and blush accents of watersound florida beach house designed by darci hether new york.

shopping local: beach house, seaside style

 my favorite way to sprinkle in that beach house vibe is through locally sourced artwork and small accessories. shopping local gives us the opportunity to support community artisans and craftsmen, an important facet of the dhny philosophy, and bring that local flavor to our clients home. one of my new favorite go-to sourcing spots on 30a is the mary hong studio.  my clients introduced me to mary and i’m so glad that they did. she has such a unique array of mixed media pieces – from colorful to subdued – and all of them are one of a kind. i love the stunning piece that my clients purchased as the focal point in their watersound great room shown above.  for fun and unique accessories, i love beau interiors.  they always have the perfect sea-glass tinted vase or yummy textured throw pillow to add the perfect touch.  

sea blue bathroom with free standing tub and decorative inset tile inside shower. bedside table vignette in florida beach house property.
all photos by jean allsopp photography


on 30a, each home is a celebration of the passion for the locale and the traditions of the coast.  at dhny, we are thankful to have the opportunity to design beach houses in such a vibrant community.  share your own dream beach house destinations below!