Aqua Culture

Melissa and Michael Spellmeyer always hoped someday they would wind up with a house on the water. The couple, along with their two sons, Lawrence, 12, and Alex, 9, split their time between their weekend Fowl River property and residence in West Mobile, both of which Michael built.

Right from the start, Melissa decided the look and feel of their river home would be a stark contrast from their landlocked place. “I didn’t want it to look overdone, ” she says. “My other house has travertine floors, chandeliers with crystals and something on every wall. I didn’t want that again.”

The waterfront getaway evokes a clean, crisp coastal vibe. “I selected neutrals for the base, the walls and everything. That way if I ever decided to change the color, and get rid of all the blue, I could redo the whole scheme, and it wouldn’t be a big deal.” Melissa preferred nothing too shiny and new so she chose elements like whitewashed pine walls and repurposed antique furniture. With the help of Audrey Phillips, of Charles Phillips Antiques & Architecturals, she was able to achieve the style she desired.

“About two or three years ago, Melissa  was just driving down the road and found us, ” Audry says. “She started with the dining room table and pieced it together little by little.” Now the space is the perfect place for the family to recharge, river style.

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LEFT The family enjoys spending time at their second home, off the beaten path at Fowl River. Grown daughter McCall, of Moss Point, Miss., visits often.

RIGHT This 1880s chest is a reworked piece from Charles Phillips Antiques & Architecturals. A painting that Melissa created herself and vases of favorite shells add personal touches without busying the design.


ABOVE Pops of blue are sprinkled throughout the cream and white living room. Slipcovered couches and chairs allow for easy cleaning in a house with two boys. “If it can’t go in the washer and dryer, or it can’t be scrubbed with a big brush, I don’t want it in this house, ” Melissa says. She instantly fell in love with this ornate late 1800s armoire and had to later return to collect its mate. An Eastern European trunk from Charles Phillips doubles as a coffee table.


LEFT When Melissa bought the dining room table, the legs were more of a true white. She and furniture worker Audrey Phillips  painted and distressed the piece to give it a more shabby-chic look. A seashell-covered chandelier is the focal point of the room. “This was the first thing I chose, ” Melissa says. “The whole house was designed around that light fixture.”

RIGHT The seashell theme trickles down on to the dining room table’s centerpiece. A Hungarian dough bowl is full of handpicked treasures. “We like to go to the island and just pick up seashells after a storm, ” Melissa says.


LEFT An old window unit repurposed as a mirror adds depth and character to the room.

RIGHT Three square canvases, found at Objects, adorn the space above the kitchen window. Each painting is labeled on the side with the local origin of the sand and seashells used in the composition.

ABOVE Billy Wright, of Wright Cabinet Shop, installed the cabinetry. “It’s painted white with a chocolate glaze to look antiqued, ” Melissa says. “The walls are whitewashed pine, with different grays and whites to blend.”

ABOVE Painted Bombay reproduction chests double as bedside tables. A turquoise fabric headboard, from Cotton Capers, lends just enough color to the neutral room. An animal skin rug and coral lamps are eclectic accents.


LEFT A painting by local artist, Leigh Postle, adds a splash of blue. A white claw-foot tub provides calm and relaxation. A large, intricately designed window by Barnett Millworks in Theodore brings light into the room.

RIGHT This oyster painting is another one of Melissa’s original works. She asked Audrey to construct a frame for the piece using parts of reclaimed molding.


LEFT A Charles Phillips headboard made from old shutters adds dimension to son Alex’s room.

RIGHT The wooden dresser once belonged to Melissa’s great-grandmother whose home had been used as a hospital during the Civil War.

ABOVE One of Lawrence’s deer mounts hangs above a white iron bed that Melissa has had for years. A Charles Phillips chest beside the bed is a nice companion.


LEFT Vibrant hammock chairs are suspended over the Spellmeyers’ patio. This is the perfect spot for Melissa to sit and keep an eye on her boys during all of their adventures.

RIGHT “We love to deep sea fish, ” Melissa says. “That was the whole point of us being on the water.” Some of their biggest catches, like marlin and dolphin fish, are displayed throughout their abode.

ABOVE Blue Haven installed the family’s pool with a mosaic marlin design at the bottom. Melissa says one of her favorite things about the oasis is its layout ledge. Blue and lime green fish-shaped Adirondack chairs are a playful addition.

ABOVE The family’s collection of fishing rods sit on display.

ABOVE The Spellmeyers’ relaxing retreat offers stunning views of the river.

text by Mallory Boykin • photos by Ashley Rowe

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