Mel's New Home

When Orange Beach interior designer Melanie Martin planned her dream home, she knew the most important decision was the location.

She chose Ono Island, where she and her late husband Mike spent many years. The property is on Ole River, an expansive private lot with panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. By design, the home showcases the hundreds of treasures Martin has collected during her extensive travels. “This was an opportunity for me to reconvene the ‘Dream Team’ of McCollough Architecture, J. L. Loper Construction Company, Inc., and Melanie Martin Interiors,” says Martin. “We have worked together on countless projects, and we have amazing synergy. With the Dream Team, the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Sted McCollough, Chad Loper, and I seem to be able to conjure up a shared vision and bring it to reality when we collaborate.”

McCollough brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Dream Team. He served as Director of the Alabama Building Commission for six years before founding McCollough Architecture in 2000, and recently he has been appointed to the Alabama Board of Architects. “Our work is always client-driven,” he says. “We are able to create in any number of styles, and we pride ourselves in living by our mission statement, “Great Spaces from Concept to Creation.” When McCollough came to the Gulf Coast, he met Martin and Loper through a business relationship with Loper’s late father, Jerry, who passed away last year. “We work together very well. I can’t count how many jobs we’ve done together. This one is extra-special, however. Melanie is a special person. Her style is simple yet elegant, and everything she does reflects her personal taste, her unique personality,” he says. The 4,000 square foot home features four bedrooms, 4 ½ baths, a heated pool, a long pier, and a boathouse. Its focus is the connectivity of inside and outside, with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass panels that allow the living area to expand to include the patio and pool. The entire home uses shades of white, textured surfaces and soft upholstered furnishings. “I have three granddaughters. The girls and their two dogs are here a lot,” she explains. “They live all over the house, and nothing is off-limits, so it needs to be easy to maintain. All the fabrics are low-maintenance and wear extremely well.” Art and artifacts from Martin’s global travels, as well as pieces by her son, artist Mikell Frechette, fill the living space. The chandeliers throughout the home are examples of Martin’s eclectic taste. Over the coffee table hangs a fixture crafted by a group of African women from hundreds of carefully formed balls of clay. The table was fashioned from an ancient wooden door, ingeniously set onto an acrylic base, creating a sense that it is floating. A Brazilian chandelier made from two custom-made brass pendants tops the island that delineates the kitchen. The ebony and gold tones of the kitchen provide a dramatic contrast to the serene whites used through the living area. A fireplace acts as an anchor to showcase a striking tortoise shell that Martin has had for many years. The first floor also houses a guest room with a Tiffany tapestry from the 18th century hanging over a bed crafted of woven blonde wood.

The second floor contains the master suite, another guest bedroom, and an expansive suite for Martin’s three granddaughters. Martin envisioned a room where each could have privacy yet be together. “I was totally over bunk beds,” she said. “We designed the room for three queen size beds and plenty of space to move around.” The second guest room features several antique African baskets above a plush upholstered bed and has access to the balcony overlooking the pool.

The master suite is the epitome of restrained luxury. The bed, flanked by side tables with matching alabaster lamps, sits under an ethereal crystal chandelier. Above the bed are six shadowboxes by Frechette containing many of Martin’s treasures from travels, childhood, and nature. The master suite features a double-sided fireplace, which divides the bedroom from the bath and dressing area. Hanging above the fireplace is another work by Frechette. “Mikell’s work is amazing,” she says. “He has always been fascinated with artifacts, mementos, and natural materials.” A freestanding sculptural tub dominates the bathroom with gold fixtures. Just beyond the tub is an open shower with matching gold hardware. A white vanity floats against the wall, the space illuminated by an amazing bubble chandelier created by OLY, a California company. The entire master suite features retractable glass panels that open to the balcony and the sky.

Steps away from the downstairs patio is the heated pool surrounded by artificial turf and slabs of shellstone. Martin says turf is “the best decision I ever made; it always looks perfect!” The pool was designed and installed by Cox Pools, and Martin says she would never work with anyone else. The yard features large palm trees for a tropical feel and leads to the pier and boathouse that complete the island feel of Melanie Martin’s dream home.
Sabe Fink (2020, August/September). Melanie Martin's Dream Home. Coastal Lifestyle, 24-33. Find original article here.