A magnificent makeover of one of the largest houses on Alys Beach
By Sabe Fink
Photos by Showcase Photography
A dozen years ago, husband-and-wife team Marisol and Tony Gullo transitioned from the construction industry into fine furniture design and manufacturing. This step led to another venture: a retail outlet to showcase their custom designs. One retail showroom soon grew to two: Not Too Shabby in Miramar Beach and 30Avenue Design Studio in Inlet Beach. As they built a reputation for fine craftsmanship, they broadened their scope and began to offer full interior design services in order to turn their skills into an asset shared with grateful clients.
“Many of our peers started as designers and gradually added a retail presence,” says Marisol. “But we began with the retail shops, which carried primarily our own designs, and expanded into full design services. I had a vision when I designed pieces of how they might best serve a purpose and show their beauty. By moving into the design area, I was able to make my vision a reality.” Marisol, who was honored as the South Walton Artist of the Year in 2017, is an attorney by training, and with her husband, has built more than 10 homes for their family over the years.
A recent design assignment, a four-year-old home in the heart of Alys Beach, provided Marisol with a blank canvas for her design work. The house, one of the largest in the community, was in great shape, but the new owners wanted to give it a fresh look and feel. “The owners had their closing in the same center as my store,” says Marisol. “They came in to look around while they waited, and we started talking. One thing led to another, and they shared their vision for the house with me. We had an instant connection, and when I went to see the house, I knew just what they wanted and how I could make it happen.”
The home occupies a prime position in the development, with great water views, particularly from the spectacular rooftop deck. In addition to a beautiful pool, there’s a landscaped courtyard with generous outdoor living space and a cozy, private casita for family and friends.
The home needed no structural work, just paint, furnishings, and accessories. The homeowner wanted virtually everything to be white, and Marisol was able to pull much of the furniture from her sizable warehouse. “There were a few items we had to order,” she says, “particularly light fixtures, which took the longest to receive.” The coffee tables and upholstered furniture largely came from Moss Studio, an American design and manufacturing company with a showroom in Atlanta. “The architecture of the home made it easy to work in,” says Marisol, “and the homeowner had clear ideas of what she wanted, making the job go smoothly.”
One dramatic piece was designed and built by Marisol and Tony specifically for the space. The massive dining room table is made of ancient weathered cypress, with the fissures and cavities carefully filled with white epoxy, creating a functional work of art and one-of-a-kind statement piece. “I put every bit of epoxy on with my own hands,” says Marisol. “It’s like nothing else in the world, and it belongs to this space and these people alone. The warm wood, with its age and imperfections, breaks up the whiteness and draws all eyes toward it.”
The couple’s retail shops/showrooms continue to provide Marisol with her own source of furnishings and accessories, but they also serve other designers in the area. “We welcome both homeowners and other designers to shop with us,” says Marisol. “There is more cooperation than competition here, because the market is so strong and there’s work for all of us. We’re fortunate to have our huge warehouse; people can see things and get things quickly. The women usually know what they want when they see it, but the men want to sit in the actual chair before committing to it.”
Marisol and Tony have been asked about opening additional stores, but they’re satisfied with the coverage they get from their two locations for the moment. Says Marisol: “Right now we’re committed to doing the best job for our clients and operating our stores and our business in a very personal, hands-on way.”
Not Too Shabby
9755 Hwy. 98 West
Miramar Beach, FL 32550
30Avenue Design Studio
12805 Hwy. 98, Unit P201
Inlet Beach, FL 32461(850) 520-2390