Breaking Waves


story by Liesel Schmidt  |  photos by Emerald Coast Real Estate Photography, LLC


Offering unobstructed views of the sandy beaches along the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico punctuated by the swaying fronds of palm trees, the second floor location of Steve and Connie Connelly’s condo at the Breakers had the most important thing they could have wanted in a space when they were looking to move to the beach full time. After all, you can’t change the where in real estate. It’s the number one rule. You can, however, change the what; and while The Breakers of Fort Walton Beach might have been a great condo community that the Connelly’s had long dreamed of having ownership in, there were things about their new space that needed re-imagining to make it perfect.

Coming in at 1678 square feet, the two bedrooms and three baths of the spacious end unit gave Connie plenty of room to play, serving as a blank canvas as she stripped away the vestiges of the old to recreate their new home as something new—something that was not only respective of the environment around it, but something that also seemed to bring it from outside to in.


Looking around the space as it is now, with walls painted in a palette of complementary shades of blues, it’s clear that the Connelly’s wanted to inject their home with a coastal feel that was a departure from the norm. Rather than working with the beiges or grays that so often serve as a neutral background for touches here and there of coastally inspired design, they immersed themselves in it, using one very unexpected central feature as the jumping off point for everything else. “I found and fell in love with a slab of quartz from Cambria called Blue Sky, and literally almost everything else in the condo came about as a result of that quartz,” says Connie, an active volunteer for various community organizations and passionate supporter of Alaqua Wildlife Refuge.

With its breathtaking color and movement, one can’t help but see just what it was that so captured Connie’s heart. It is the quartz equivalent of water, the embodiment of just what it is that people pay millions of dollars to look at when they live at the beach. And with the real estate it claims in what is, in Connie’s words, “my dream kitchen,” it could easily be said that the space is awash in that coastal calm, that the counters have created their very own tidal wave of design that pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

The crown jewel atop dark blue European style cabinets that play a stark contrast to sleek white upper cabinetry, the quartz countertops are complemented by the dark gray appliances and a silver backsplash that offer just the right amount of visual interest without distracting the eye from the key player in the room. Flowing underfoot from one space to the next, the entire condo features wood-look luxury vinyl plank flooring that can withstand beach life and all it brings without sacrificing even an inch of beachy sophistication.

Much like Connie, retired Air Force veteran Steve spends a great deal of time volunteering and works actively with the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and its fundraising efforts in the local area. Coming home to that view, relaxing out on the balcony overlooking the beach and watching the spectacular sunsets is a reward, the perfect way to unwind and reconnect. “We’re blessed to be able to watch the ever-changing Gulf of Mexico and look out at the powder-white sand beach every day,” says Connie. “And the sunsets…there aren’t words!”

When coming home and coming to the beach are one in the same, you know you’ve reached paradise. And for Steve and Connie Connelly, they’re ready to get swept up in high tide.


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