Everything about this Anna Maria Island cottage is a whimsical experience. The walk from the street to the entry leads you under a canopy of vegetation on a path of shell and sand. Taking a closer look at the columns will reveal hidden treasures such as coins, baubles, and little mermaids. Restoration gates look like front doors, but upon entry, they present a view right out to the water. “You don’t know where you’re going, but you’ll enjoy the experience,” says builder Brent Whitehead of Whitehead Construction.
The home was given the name “Mermaid Lane” by its owners, and it is designed to look like an old island cottage with a history all its own. “It was made to feel like there have been many additions as the family has grown with the home,” said Whitehead. “It needed to be fun and durable. The owners wanted to be comfortable with grandchildren dropping things on the floor and wiping their hands on the wall.”
The cottage is a perfect fit for Anna Maria Island where the people love nature and a relaxed, unpretentious lifestyle. Mermaid Lane is actually two homes. What is now the guest cottage had been on the property since the 1940s. “We took the roof off and raised it,” explained Whitehead “We put a master suite on top, and that’s now a three-bed, three-bath guest house.”
The kitchen in the main home is a colorful collection of handsome woods. The refrigerator is cleverly clad in distressed wood and the handles were found in an architectural salvage.
A recurring theme throughout the home is repurposing. So many pieces of décor and functional elements have been rescued and reused. In fact, the dining table is made from the scaffolding used during construction.
“The homeowner is incredibly creative and artistic. She found old doors, brackets, and shutters,” adds Whitehead. “She bought items that looked cool but didn’t really have a function. She assembled everything in a large room and tasked us with making it feel like they had been in the home for generations.’” The end result is a cottage that looks like it grew around the pieces and they all belong together.
The colors are spectacular, friendly, welcoming, and warm. “I couldn’t even begin to think about the cans of paint we used. It would be over 100,” explains Whitehead. “The owners were very comfortable and willing to go to the edge with colors. They put a great deal of effort into mixing the colors to get the exact shades that they wanted.”
Whitehead credits the homeowner’s artistic eye and bold sense of style for putting the home together. She worked with Becky Meier, a designer based in Atlanta, to bring her visions to life.
Between the main house and the guest cottage there are six bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths. Each has its own sense of style and character. All are themed to reflect island life. Oak floors, distressed wood, real plaster, and exposed beams are prevalent throughout.
The decking is old growth cypress, which contributes to the unique feel and charm of the cottage. This is not the cypress you readily purchase for home use. This is more expensive, more durable, and more attractive.
Joining the upper deck to the pool area is a restored, Victorian style spiral staircase. The pool area, while casual, has many unique elements. The palm tree in the middle of the pool is actually a steel pole that is supporting 15 tons of the house. “We kept this functional element fun to enhance the eclectic feel that is seen throughout,” says Whitehead.
This home can be best described as a collection of treasures. The finest quality materials, a willingness to take some risks, and an unwavering commitment to island style, bring shabby and chic together in island harmony.
Written by Sondra Guffey
Photography by Jimmy White
Whitehead Construction, Inc.
4402 124th Street West
Cortez, FL 34215