Three family homes, one beautiful waterfront site. Each home needed to complement the others and the Wolf Bay setting while also expressing the individual homeowner’s personalities. That was the challenge that faced decorator Melanie Martin, owner of two “lifestyle boutiques” at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama: Melanie’s and MII.

“One home has a Tuscan design [featured in the February/March issue of Coastal Lifestyle], one is stone and very traditional. This one is contemporary with traditional bones. Thank goodness for my dream team of architect Sted McCollough and builder Chad Loper. If I can dream it, they can make it happen.”

Melanie said the homeowner was a joy to work with. “She is a very busy woman and really didn’t have time to get involved with all the details. She wanted whites and cool tones, and she has a great eye for anything new and different. The walls are a gorgeous shade of white, paired with lovely white Belgium linen draperies and simple custom rods from Cheryl’s Designs in Foley.”

There are shades of cool blues and greens in the artwork, like the painting on glass by Alabama artist Tim Poe that hangs over the fireplace in the living room, the blue barstools in the kitchen, and the blue linen chandelier in the master suite. “I used colors to tie the house into its setting,” Melanie said. “Throughout, we juxtaposed old with the new, natural with contemporary.”

In the foyer, a 12-foot-long custom table of antique wood, created by Armored Frog, floats on the wall above shiny chrome brackets. Art on the table combines fragments from old-world cathedrals with pieces of crystal. Rock crystals are also part of the dining room chandelier that uses oyster shells and a straw-grass design. Shadow boxes with art and bits of shells and rocks, custom designed by Melanie’s son, artist Mikell Frechette, bring more of the outdoors in, as do the white-painted turtle shells that march up the fireplace and the huge white coral sconces.

The house’s contemporary side is evidenced by the shiny vinyl finish on the kitchen cabinets, starburst light fixtures from Arteriors, marble-wrapped kitchen island, and quartz hood. From the living area, black-framed mirrored doors slide open to the master suite with sitting room. Melanie incorporated the closets, bath, and dressing room into one large space with a wall of mirrored doors that each open into different sections of the closet. The tub in the master bath looks out onto a totally private walled garden with rosemary bushes and olive trees.

The stunning decor and design extends outdoors. In the front, there is a fountain created from an old sugar-can pot from a mill in Savannah, Georgia. In the back, screen porches, swings, and comfortable seating invite the family to relax and enjoy the view of Wolf Bay, which seems to flow right from the edge of the pool. Melanie worked with Pat Ponder of Ponder Landscaping to create a natural setting for the house, using grasses and ferns that could have grown there.

“It’s all about going back to nature, to the bay, and creating a pleasing combination of old and new,” Melanie said. “I love when I can make that happen.”

For more information on Melanie Martin and her work, visit one of her shops at The Wharf in Orange beach or online at Call her at 251-923-0109.

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