This Former Rental Is Now a Florida Getaway Packed With Personality

In the hands of Birmingham designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas, an outdated former rental gets a timeless transformation. 

Aiken Street House Plan (SL-1807), ColorWater Florida Front Exterior
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

When homeowner Jacque Hamilton had the chance to purchase her dream house in WaterColor, Florida, she jumped at the opportunity. "I first discovered it nearly 20 years ago while jogging through the area and tried to buy it then," says Hamilton, who was drawn to the home's showstopping front porch, classic French doors, and floor-to-ceiling windows. "It's been a love affair ever since." Designed by architect Jim Strickland, founder of Historical Concepts in Atlanta, the house sits on Buttercup Street in WaterColor, a resort and vacation community in South Walton County off Scenic Highway 30A. When she was unable to purchase it, Hamilton settled for renting the home and then later managing it as a rental property through her business Exclusive 30A. "To say I'm excited to finally call it my own is a vast understatement!" she says.

Tapping Birmingham-based designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas for the renovation (a recommendation from Strickland), she made quick work of revitalizing the home. It was in need of major repairs after serving as a rental for two decades. "A lot of choices were driven by what was readily available," says Hillegas, who reupholstered furnishings, repurposed existing fixtures, incorporated antiques, and stocked textiles to finish the project in record time. Consideration was made to preserve original details like the patinaed wooden walls, ceilings, and floors and to ensure the durability of the space for large family gatherings. "This was a true decorating project as no structural changes were needed thanks to Jim's genius floor plan," says Hillegas.

Aiken Street House Plan (SL-1807) Front Porch design by Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

Warm Up Your Welcome

A favorite of both the homeowner and designer, the front porch is encased in curtains and shutters to provide privacy, a feeling of coziness and a sense of drama. "The homes on this street are pretty close together, so this was key," says Hillegas. Using a classic blue-and-white color palette–utilized throughout the entire house–Heather selected Benjamin Moore's Narragansett Green (HC-157) for the shutters and Perennials' Vintage Stripe fabric in Lagoon for the curtains.

Heather Chadduck Hillegas designed Living Room in WaterColor, FL House
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

Trust a Designer's Touch

The home was completed in four months, a feat anytime but especially in today's supply chain-challenged world. "Jacque was very receptive to our creative work-arounds," says Hillegas. She placed a Safavieh rug over one from Rush House that was custom sewn on-site to fit the space. For the window treatments, Hillegas utilized a clever trick to minimize fabric yardage without sacrificing impact. "We layered tent-flap curtains featuring a bold print on the front (Katsugi in Blues by Schumacher) and a stripe on the back over woven blinds handmade in India," she says.

Heather Chadduck Hillegas designed open kitchen in WaterColor, FL
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

Think Beyond Square Inches

"Decorating an open-concept kitchen and living area can be a challenge, but Jim's brilliant placement of ceiling beams helps visually delineate the space," says Hillegas. To make the kitchen appear larger and more custom, she installed a counter-depth panel-ready refrigerator to match the existing cabinetry, which was freshened up with Sherwin-Williams' Natural Tan (SW 7567), while the island was painted in Sherwin-Williams' Labradorite (SW 7619) for a pop of color. Hillegas pulled the dining table and hutch from Hamilton's own collection.

Heather Chadduck Hillegas designed Primary Bedroom in Aiken Street House Plan
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

Display Found Objects as Art

"I love to hunt and gather for one-of-a-kind pieces, like the collage of perfectly scaled antique hats we hung above the bed to add texture and lend a beachy, casual, and fun vibe," says Hillegas. She dressed the Mr. & Mrs. Howard for Sherrill Furniture bed in linens from Peacock Alley, a Pottery Barn quilt, and a vintage throw. The built-in bookcases were updated with grass cloth wallpaper from Crezana. Sherwin-Williams' Alabaster (SW 7008) coats the walls and ceiling, and a Rush House seagrass rug covers the floor.

Heather Chadduck Hillegas designed Primary Bathroom in Aiken Street House Plan
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

Watch Paint Revitalize a Space

"We were able to leave a lot of existing features in the house—such as the vanity; light fixtures; claw-foot tub; and wooden walls, ceiling, and floors in the primary bath—by updating them with fresh paint," says Hamilton.

Heather Chadduck Hillegas designed hallway in Aiken Street House Plan
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

Know When To Show Restraint

Although a new coat of paint was applied to the walls downstairs, Hillegas opted to leave the pickled walls upstairs untouched, preserving their vintage feel. To update the stair landing, she installed a Roman shade made with a Quadrille fabric, New Batik Cloud New Brown on Tint.

Heather Chadduck Hillegas designed Bunk Bedroom in Aiken Street House Plan
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Page Mullins

Get Comfortable With a Mix

"I'm a big believer in putting old with new and love to use this trick when it comes to dressing a bed," says Hillegas. Layered on top of new linens from Bungalow Classic are vintage blankets from a local antiques store, a perfect complement to the curtains made with the Grande Frond in Rose fabric from the designer's own eponymous line, Heather Chadduck Textiles. Two lounge chairs were brought in from Hamilton's Atlanta home, allowing the room to sleep four or more.

Nod to the Surroundings

"It can be easy to fall into decorating clichés when interpreting a location, like one on the coast," says Hillegas, who reflected the tropical landscape with Caribbean-inspired decor like the brown-and-white color palette, sunburst mirror, and natural woven table in one of the guest bedrooms. The bedspread was made by Design Industry Workroom in Birmingham, and the headboard is covered with Heather Chadduck Textiles fabric in Little Bamboo in Chocolate.

The second guest bedroom is a play of patterns in shades of blue, reminiscent of the nearby shore. Drapes made with another Heather Chadduck Textiles fabric perfectly complement the blue-and-white bedding.

Aiken Street House Plan (SL-1807) Floor Plan

Explore More of Aiken Street House Plan

Square Footage: 2,233
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 4 full, 1 half

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