Montgomery, Alabama, interior designer Ashley Gilbreath has worked on grand estates, magazine show houses and high-end farmhouses, but there’s something so satisfying about designing a beach getaway. For this high-rise coastal home in Perdido Key, Florida, near Pensacola, the designer started with the universal goal of relaxation — but then she elevated the look from there.

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A custom upholstered TV armoire is a sophisticated version of typical media cabinets. Interior designer Ashley Gilbreath filled the living room with durable but classic furnishings from brands such as CR Laine, atop a no-nonsense rug from Dash & Albert.

The wow chandelier from Ro Sham Beaux is joined by another accessory that takes advantage of tall ceilings in the breakfast room: the large-scale natural art.

Ashley’s color palette along the spectrum of blues and greens is on point in the bar area, with this turquoise wallcovering from Phillip Jeffries.

Vintage-looking seating overlooking the ocean is actually new (and designed to last) from Selamat Designs.

“This was a second home for our clients who had just retired, so there was definitely a level of sophistication that was expected and desired since they would spend a lot of time there,” says Ashley. “They deserved a little escape spot to relax after working for 30-plus years!” The designer points out that even with the elegant look, everything in the abode is either a tailored, washable slipcover or a performance fabric. “We wanted to make sure everything can be lived in and loved on,” she adds.

As one of her trademark looks, over-scaled accessories in this condo make a dramatic statement. “I always strive to have that unexpected element in each space; it’s what makes the space unique,” she says. “The fun part of interior design is pushing limits — go big or go home, right? For the dining room, our unexpected thing was the big art and the big chandelier.”

Parisian-style barstools from Serena and Lily fit the blue-and-white color scheme of the kitchen.

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As a clever touch, the designer created a wide headboard and displayed a row of vintage bathing suits to span both twin beds in the guest bedroom.

Ashley made the most of a small entryway space by displaying art by painter Alisa Koch over a contemporary aqua console, with baskets underneath for grab-and-go items.

Fabric-flanked nightstands are designed to hide storage underneath as another smart idea. Antique fish prints envelop the bedside area.

To create more surface space in a small guest room, Ashley opted for sconces from Visual Comfort & Co. As a textural form of art, she hung wooden bowls above the bed.

The penthouse was new construction, so Ashley and team were able to concentrate on the furnishings rather than any remodeling changes. The designer added architectural interest in all sorts of ways to liven up the empty condo: grass-cloth walls and hanging glass shelves in the bar area, and an upholstered media cabinet in the living room, for starters. Above all, they didn’t compete with the view, a quiet beachside setting in a state park, where cocktails on the porch are what it’s all about. “I like to create casual, elegant spaces where memories are made,” she says.

We think she definitely succeeded!

To see more of Ashley Gilbreath’s work, visit her website at ashleygilbreath.com.

All photography by Laurey Glenn.

Ashley studied at Auburn University and New York School of Interior Design before settling in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband (and now, three children). She was recently honored with a Shutze award from the Institute of Classical Art & Architecture. Image: Sarah Griffin Photography

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