Dutch West Indies-Inspired Paradise On Rosemary Beach

A Chicago couple escapes the cold in scenic splendor at this exquisite beachfront retreat overlooking the Gulf of Mexico


the phrase “paradise by the sea” most always evokes blissful images in the mind’s eye, but in this instance, it is quite literally a sublime neighborhood that meanders along on the gulf coast of the Florida Panhandle where residents live their dreams. Tucked in the heart of Florida’s scenic highway 30A — a unique stretch of azure waters and pristine beaches of the Emerald Coast — this sought-after secluded area hosts charming homesites with small-town appeal. One such home, towering above the windswept dunes, gleams like a jewel in the sparkling white sand.

“An all-white exterior blends seamlessly with the area’s sugar-white sand beaches,” says homeowner and jewelry designer Jean Basse, who resides in this idyllic dwelling along with her husband, Dan, when they’re not living in Chicago. “We developed the home around the water based on the unusual elevation of 42 feet above sea level, which allows majestic views of the Gulf of Mexico,” she says.

The couple worked meticulously with architects Darrell Russell and Jonathan Hampel to create a spectacular custom build that took its design influences from the Dutch West Indies as well as Bermuda. With 9,061 total square feet under roof, the property includes nearly 2,400 square feet of open-air porches that take full advantage of the coastal scenery.

“This stunning, waterfront site includes the highest natural sand dune that I have had the opportunity to work with,” Russell says. “Amazingly, the protective dune was more than 12 feet higher above sea level than the overall land elevation. With the buildable footprint area of the site being so much lower, it would be impossible for the lower floor of the house to have a water view. The beautiful dune was perfect for the design solution we needed,” he says.

Using a practice referred to as piano nobile that began during the Italian Renaissance, Russell and his team designed an elevated principal floor that allows extraordinary ocean views and a direct connection to the waterfront pool. The height of the dune provided the natural location for the pool, which aligns perfectly with the main floor. The facade of the house displays tall windows that complement the 20-foot-high ceilings and offer breathtaking views of the gulf.

“We positioned the entry foyer at a split-level position located a few feet above the interior garden-level floor that houses guest rooms, laundry, storage and garages, but several feet below the principal living area,” Russell says. “The third floor is dedicated completely to the owners’ private his-and-her quarters including their fitness gym centered with the trio of vertical windows.”

In complement to the grand architecture of their home, the Basses worked with interior designer Paige Schnell to coordinate all the furnishings, decorative lighting and artwork. Schnell created a neutral color scheme to befit the home’s natural beach landscape and then accented the spaces with extraordinary custom art pieces.

“The architecture has a relatively modern look and feel, so we carried that throughout the interior scheme,” Schnell says. “All the fabrics are luxurious velvets and linens to create sophisticated rooms that are still cozy for the family. Mirrored furnishings in the living room and sitting room help to reflect the water, even indirectly. If you are on the gulf, you should embrace it in every way,” she says.

“Nearly a third of the spaces in our home are decks and porches so that we always feel connected to nature and the sea,” the homeowner says. “The sunsets are the most spectacular in the world and not to be missed. Living in Chicago, our favorite memories were flying down on chilly winter weekends and being excited by the progress of our beautiful home,” she says. “There is no better feeling than to see your dreams come true.”

Story Credits:

Architecture by Darrell Russell and Jonathan Hampel, A BOHEME Design, Inlet Beach, FL

Interior Design by Paige Schnell, Tracery Interiors, Inlet Beach, FL

Builder Jodi Hamid, Arkon Group, Inc., Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Landscape Architecture by Adam Jones, Renovo Design Studio, Rosemary Beach, FL

Text by Jeanne De Lathouder

Photography by Jean Allsopp, Birmingham, AL

Open to see Interior Design Sources:

front exterior

Front door – Custom designed by A Boheme Design, Inlet Beach, FL

Fabricated by Window Concepts,

Panama City Beach, FL

Wall lanterns and sconces – Bevolo,

New Orleans, LA

Gate and gate door – Creative Metal Works, Holt, FL

Driveway pavers – Belgard, Delta Pavers,

Miramar Beach, FL


Consoles – Custom designed by Tracery Interiors, Inlet Beach, FL

Mirrors above consoles – Oly Studio, Reno, NV

Chandelier – Lumens, Sacramento, CA

Stairway fabricated by Arkon Group,

Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Railings – Creative Metal Works, Holt, FL

living room

Sofas and lounge chairs – Lee Industries, Conover, NC

Sofa fabric – Romo, ADAC, Atlanta, GA

Accent pillow fabric – Designers Guild USA, Inc., New York, NY

Cocktail table – Oly Studio, Reno, NV

Wood accent tables – Bernhardt Furniture, Lenoir, NC

Fireplace fabricated by Medusa Stone, Inc., Panama City, FL

Light fixture – Noir, Gardena, CA

Drapery fabric – Tracery Interiors, Inlet Beach, FL

Area rug – Nashville Rug Gallery, Nashville, TN

lounge area

Lounge chairs – Lee Industries, Conover, NC

Fabric – Larsen, Cowtan & Tout, ADAC, Atlanta, GA

Cocktail ottoman – Custom designed by Tracery Interiors, Inlet Beach, FL

Ottoman and accent pillow fabrics – Romo, ADAC, Atlanta, GA

Tray – Regina Andrew Design, Inc., Riverview, MI

Nesting occasional tables – Oly Studio, Reno, NV

Table lamp – Arteriors, Carrollton, TX

Glass spheres – Owners’ Collection

Stacked antiqued-mirror wall series – Aidan Gray Home, McKinney, TX

Chandelier – Visual Comfort & Co., Houston, TX

Drapery fabric – JAB Anstoetz Group USA,

New York, NY

Area rug – Tracery Interiors, Inlet Beach, FL

bar area

Cabinetry, display shelving, bar island and

countertops – de Giulio Kitchen Design,

Wilmette, IL

Silver vases – Go Home, Ltd., Flushing, NY

Artwork – Mallory Page, New Orleans, LA

Faucet – Dornbracht, de Giulio Kitchen Design, Wilmette, IL

Barstools – Lee Industries, Conover, NC

Decorative door – Millwork 360, LLC, Tampa, FL


Cabinetry and island – SieMatic, de Giulio Kitchen Design, Wilmette, IL

Countertops – Caesarstone, de Giulio Kitchen Design, Wilmette, IL

Display shelving, antiqued mirror tile, sink,

faucet and hood – de Giulio Kitchen Design, Wilmette, IL

Cooktop and double ovens – Wolf, Builder

Specialties, Inc., Panama City, FL

Counter stools – Eurø Style, High Point, NC

Light pendants – Tecnolumen, de Giulio Kitchen Design, Wilmette, IL


Desk – Bradley, ADAC, Atlanta, GA

Desk chair – Lee Industries, Conover, NC

Occasional chair – Owners’ Collection

loggia and pool area

Pool – COX Pools, Panama City Beach, FL

Wood table – Kingsley Bate,

Manassas, VA

Host chair, side chairs and sofa – Lee Industries, Conover, NC

Accent pillow fabrics – Lacefield Designs,

Atlanta, GA

White planters – Anamese, Renovo Design

Studio, Rosemary Beach, FL

Floor candle lanterns – Restoration Hardware, Atlanta, GA

Pavers – Peacock Pavers, Atmore, AL


Windows – Kolbe & Kolbe, Window Concepts, Panama City Beach, FL

Oak hardwood flooring – Seashore Floor Co., Inc., Santa Rosa Beach, FL

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