Inspired by the cottages dotting the white sandy beaches along brilliant blues Gulf waters on 30A in Destin, Fla., Dr. Eric and Anna Senn combined white walls and decor with sapphire-hued accents. The stunning White Oaks home in Auburn overlooks a long, shimmering pool, binging back memories of the family’s serene vacation days.
The Senns were already living in White Oaks when they felt their house didn’t provide enough light or living space for their four children, aged 4, 7, 10 and 14. They desired a comfortable and casual living space for the family and areas to relax. Although only a few lots remained, they wanted to stay in White Oaks. When a wooded lot became available, they knew it was ideal, as it provided a private backyard where the kids could play.
As construction began, Anna worked on the interior design to combine the style of the neighborhood with a coastal look, mixing in a modern twist on traditional elements. She searched resources online, including Pinterest and Instagram, as she followed designers. “Anna has a good eye for design,” says Eric. “She began selecting items she liked online for the new house. Over a course of time, she posted her pictures for feedback.” Designers began to follow Anna. A designer in Nashville, Tenn., who admired her eye for details, contacted her with a desire to collaborate on the project. The builders for Landmark were also helpful, as they took Anna’s vision and followed through.
“We started with themes of family, faith, places to gather and natural light,” says Eric. “It took about a year to build. It serves all the themes. It is cozy, clean and bright.” New furnishings decorate the house, as the previous furniture did not fit the fresh look. Anna prefers older things to mingle with new decor. For now they are minimalists, collecting as they go. “I want things to look and feel like us,” says Anna. Collected art accents walls throughout the house, while unique light fixtures are artistic, several being custom-made.
The front door opens to a cozy foyer with walls covered in a modern take on traditional shiplap. Anna mixes contemporary lamps with traditional pictures and furniture. Bookcases display decorative collections that she changes often. Just off the foyer, the powder room is dramatic in bold black and white designer wallpaper. The ceiling in the living room soars 24 feet with a custom light fixture sparkling at night. Shiplap adds detail and character to the fireplace with the mantel accented with ornate candle stands and striking blue and white artwork. White high back chairs and a white sofa form a seating area around a pale gray tufted coffee table, while a pair of chairs flanking a large round table offer an inviting spot for morning coffee. Rugs anchor the space.
Spacious windows in the living room look over the long pool. White walls and the shimmering vibrant blue water provide a coastal feeling. The living room opens to the kitchen, which allows Anna to be with the family as she prepares meals. Instead of a separate dining room, they opted for a long table with banquette seating adjoining the kitchen overlooking the pool. The large table also provides an area for homework when the Senns home school. A huge marble island in the kitchen provides space for a cold drink after the children have a swim. The back splash is also marble over a professional-sized gas stovetop. In one area, china is showcased in a glass-front cabinet that has a wet bar. Without upper cabinets flanking the stove hood, the kitchen has an uncluttered look. Side cabinets provide ample storage, as well as a walk-in pantry located between the kitchen and mudroom with storage for the children’s activity gear.
A spacious laundry room opens from the mudroom with a generous-sized marble counter for folding clothes. The children have an upstairs drop to the laundry room. Each of the children has their own room upstairs and a sitting area to enjoy time with friends. On the other side of the kitchen, a television room for the children opens to the back porch and pool area. A bath is connected to the guest room. Guests have their own entrance, which offers ease in bringing luggage into the room. The master bedroom wing with a sitting area is on the opposite side of the house with his-and-her closets and a separate laundry space. A dazzling crystal chandelier adds elegance to the spa-style bath.
Both Anna and Eric grew up in East Alabama. Eric’s father, who was a minister in Opelika, has retired to Florida, while Anna’s parents are within walking distance of their home. After a long day as a physician at the East Alabama Medical Center emergency room, Eric comes home to unwind in a restful sanctuary. The family enjoys lingering on the back porch overlooking the pool and grounds in an idyllic setting. As morning sunlight dapples across the living room, the Senns feel they have been able to capture the comfortable, informal feeling of being at a home along 30A. While their home is tailored for their specific needs, it provides light and breathing space for their growing family.
An award winning journalist, Ann Cipperly has been writing features, as well as food, travel and restaurant articles for East Alabama Living since 2004. She is a former newspaper lifestyle and food editor and currently writes features and a food column for the Opelika Observer. Ann is a native Opelikan.