Beach House on the Gulf
This Florida Gulf Coast project is one of my absolute favorites from the past few years. I have had the pleasure of working with this family on multiple projects during the last 20 plus years, and getting to know a family so well and seeing both their needs and style evolve put us all in a very unique position to start design of this stunning house.
One of the best parts of this challenge was knowing the family had a vision of what they wanted, and using my skills and creativity to guide them through the design process. The better I know a family, the more I can help them imagine how things can be, and the more of their vision I can help realize, the happier they will be in their new space.
In this case, I was able to visit right after they purchased the beautiful beachfront location with an older house on it. At this point, their ideas were just making their way to the drawing board. From there, the focus turned to creating an inspiring space that would give you the feeling you were living right on the water with little to nothing between you and the serenity of the Gulf.
The siting of the house really takes advantage of the ocean, while the neighboring homes seem to melt away. I always tried to keep in mind that with the abundance of glass walls of windows, the view and the sense of place will always be the primary feature of the house. However, I also wanted the personalities and warmth of this family to shine through. To that end, the use of natural materials—stone, wood, textiles—really play an important role. During the design/construction phase, I needed to pay close attention to decisions being made that might impact the final aesthetics or use of the spaces.
Given that this house has so much potential for natural light, we took a lot of care to see what manmade elements we could add that would complement the experience. The lighting fixtures we had fabricated bring functional and sculptural elements to the space. I especially like the way these fixtures ground each room, providing supplemental light where it is needed but also giving each room a focal point—or, as I sometimes say, a punctuation mark.
Overall, I am thoroughly confident the house speaks for itself. There is one piece that I particularly love because I feel the story around it shows how design choices can have such a positive impact on the look, feel, and livability of a space. One of my absolute favorite French furniture designers is Christian Liaigre—and it is his coffee table that holds the living room together without overwhelming it. The table is light in tone, fashioned from natural materials with wood accents, and it adds just the right amount of weight to the living room grouping. The space is quite large, both in footprint and volume, and so it requires the right balance to make the seating area feel inviting. Our goal in a large room is always to define areas that draw people in with the use of scale, texture, and color—and the Liaigre table is key.