Modern Baylife | Coastal Interiors Lifestyle Photography


Wrapped in White and Light

Photography and Article by Leslie Brown - featured in Coastal Lifestyle Magazine

The transition from old world to new modern is not an everyday style move.  European antique decor is an enduring style that stirs the soul, and attracts collectors from around the world. Generally, homeowners have a hard time giving up the treasures they have collected and curated through the years. One word comes to mind when someone chooses a departure from their previous personal style: How? How do we leave behind an acquired taste for an altogether different aesthetic feel? How do we relinquish the beautiful pieces that create it?

In the case of Bill and Diane Balchunas, the answer to changing style direction comes easily. They share a love for the arts, although both are from a healthcare background. As a couple, they create the spirit of their home with natural instincts for design. As the owners of this inviting modern penthouse, their transition was sparked when another interior decor drew their attention. It might start with magazine photos, Instagram feeds, or a visit to someone’s home. In that instant, the seed is planted at the moment of attraction. An image, a showroom, or any distinct vision might stir a reaction to cultivate an affinity for a fresh and intriguing decor. Over time, almost without realizing it, the appeal to embrace a different lifestyle decor pulls slowly, but surely.

The Balchunas formerly enjoyed an old world style filled with antiques, mixed tastefully with contemporary art, in their previous home in the Pensacola Historic District. As they browsed magazines and visited showrooms, they found this unrelenting attraction to modernized living. When planning their next chapter, they decided to sell their antique collection, live less encumbered and to freely travel with few home maintenance concerns. It just made sense to go all in with clean, upscale elegance.

It’s easy for some, and almost impossible for others, but this adventurous couple caught, and crafted, a new vision for a penthouse condo lifestyle overlooking Pensacola Bay. Bill and Diane knew that the condo location would be enveloped in light from the reflecting water and bright Florida skies. They chose to harness the light and allow it to take center stage in their home design. Creative input and vision from their builder Mark Chastain, and architect Brian Spencer, resulted in a home of sophisticated white with casual elegance. Throughout the condo, the light is radiant on bright days, and yet subdued as the light ebbs and flows from the expansive windows that welcome their outdoor view.

As avid art collectors, the owners chose to highlight favorite pieces of art and sculpture that define, yet transcend, a certain decor. Bill and Diane’s love for contemporary art shaped their design choices. Their colorful art collection became the main focal points for visible style in the home's large open space created for entertaining and cooking. The stunning kitchen of Italian glass cabinetry from Scavolini, with reflective countertops in light neutrals from Superior Granite, set the stage for the open view of the living area. The artwork adds bright color and flair to stacked marble walls installed by a local artisan, and supplied through Prosource of Pensacola. The stacked marble provides depth and texture to the stylish decor. Imaginative lighting from Urban Objects was selected with help from Sarah Gillette, to enhance the refined modern feel. Runway lights in the ceiling create leading lines that illuminate the walls of featured artwork.

The skillfully designed kitchen, by Laura Lawrence, CKD, provides the owners with masterful culinary appointments. Miele appliances were selected from United Lighting and incorporate beautifully into the spacious reflective kitchen. Friends frequently visit, and linger, to enjoy the view, ambience and fabulous home cooking in this gorgeous white setting. Similar to a blank canvas, the reflective openness is an ideal backdrop for art connoisseurs. Several art pieces were purchased locally at the Gulf Coast Arts Festival held in Pensacola each November. Other works were selected during their numerous travels.  The stunning entry gives clues to the overall gallery feel of the home. The eyes are especially drawn to a piece, “The Birdnest," by local artist, Justin Gaffrey of Grayton Beach. The statement piece sets the tone for the entire space. New Orleans and Miami arts and design influence are also present throughout the striking living, dining and bathing areas.

In the new chapter of travel and adventure for the Balchunas, there is no doubt these art lovers have designed a home that feels like an upscale, modern gallery, with all the comforts of a dazzling and elegant style.


Leslie BrownComment