More than 170 years ago, just two decades after Florida became part of the United States, a lovely Creole cottage was built near Pensacola’s Seville Square. Seville was the city’s first residential neighborhood, and today it’s a nationally recognized historic district with nearly thirty homes, museums, churches, and other structures, most dating from the early 1800s.

“This Creole-style cottage was built in 1846 as a small, four-square cottage, two rooms deep by two rooms wide,” said Designer Tip McAlpin, ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), who worked with the current homeowner on an expansion that more than doubled the home’s size. McAlpin, owner of Pensacola’s McAlpin Interiors, has helped created beautiful homes in Connecticut, San Francisco, New York, and the British Virgin Islands, as well as all around the Southeast.

“One of the previous owners had converted the attic space into bedrooms, another turned that space into an apartment with access from outside,” McAlpin explained. “The current owner moved the stairs inside to create a guest suite from the upstairs rooms. Then, she expanded the original house, adding a large master bedroom and bath, guest room and bath, home office, laundry room, double garage, and two porches.”

It was important, McAlpin said, that the look and feel of the expansion, as well as the original part of the house, was in keeping with its age. “The owner wanted a home that reflected the historic period style of the main footprint, but she also needed a home that was livable for today, some 175 years after it was first designed.”

The footprint of the original home—which now incorporates the dining room, living room, wet bar, and kitchen—had original heart pine floors. McAlpin and his team found additional aged heart pine flooring for the expansion. All the doors throughout the house, 19th century French doors left in their original finish, add another authentic period touch.

McAlpin and the client have worked together before on other homes. “I’ve known her all my life, and it is always fun to work with her. We have had a chance to grow our friendship while working together. I also enjoyed very much working with Bill and Matt Hinson of CDC Woodworking in Pensacola. The client wanted lots of great storage space, and they understood the need to create cabinetry that was classic for the historic look and feel but also satisfies the needs of today.”

Along with finding some new furniture and accessories for the home, McAlpin worked with the client to find new places for pieces she had collected over the years. “She had many lovely pieces that fit perfectly in this home,” he said. “When I work with any client, I consider my role to be an interpreter. I listen to their wants and needs, and then I translate that information into a comfortable and warm environment. It’s my job to interpret the client’s wishes, and not to impose my own ideas.”

In business since 1978, McAlpin Interiors is located at 405 S. Palafox, Pensacola, FL. Call them at (850) 438-8345, or visit online at

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