Friday, April 12, 2024

Florida Style & Design: Cutting Edge

Photography by Daniel Newcomb of Architect Photography

In a land where over-designed Mediterranean villas topped with barrel roof tiles reign supreme, this waterfront home’s ultra-modern design is a provocative departure. A team of experts, including Lesly Maxwell Interiors, Greg Lombardi Landscape Design and Rex Nichols Architects, masterfully conceived the 9,961-square-foot spec home, which was purchased earlier this year for $17.5 million. The seasoned professionals worked together for three years to transform the six-bedroom, eight-and-a-half-bathroom property into an enticing residence that is both sexy and livable.

Matt Gillen; photo by Russ Schleipman
Lesly Maxwell; photo by Peter O’Hara

Honoring nature through its sublime contemporary simplicity, the home marries the outdoors with the indoors by incorporating it into every aspect of the home to create a luxuriously greener space. From the moment you pull in, your eyes are drawn to the driveway’s linear design and inverted counterpart on the adjacent front lawn, also useful for overflow parking. Luxury car residential parking is in high demand these days, so the goal was to create these two areas that didn’t feel like massive expanses of pavement but could be used for parking, among other things. Matt Gillen, senior associate at Greg Lombardi Landscape Design, explains he worked on a softer approach of integrating green space into every window view so that it felt more like a garden than a parking garage.

Maxwell balances the sultry space’s darker palette with emerald green chairs that pull in the backyard’s wild grass and complete the indoor-outdoor effect.

Two water features, created by Rex Nichols, heighten the anticipation for the home’s coastal setting. Gillen describes the cascading two-story waterfall and wading pond as an amuse-bouche to the home’s expansive Intracoastal views. Moments before stepping into the home, Nichols’ custom aluminum perforated screens come into full view, a unique architectural piece that plays with the light and shadow on the façade. Inspired by the screens, the landscape team translated that design onto the turf and pavement pattern of the multi-use lawn and driveway. “It gives a better sense of depth across the space. Instead of one flat surface, it feels like a series of layers,” Gillen explains.

This multipurpose sprawling space can host a casual dinner or game night. The linear recessed LED lighting scheme, which Maxwell designed in different shapes and patterns throughout the home, leads the eye outside to the backyard.

The view-driven home’s relationship between the indoors and outdoors is emphasized through the post-tension construction and frameless La Finestra floor-to-ceiling 24-foot windows. “The use of glass in the house and that indoor-outdoor experience is so prevalent,” Maxwell says. “All bedrooms have their own balconies; even the bathrooms are open to views. It truly is a sunrise/sunset house.”

The dining room chairs, which were designed by Maxwell and made by Grafton Furniture, are the stars here. The designer designed a table with a glass top (produced by Artistry Masters of Woodcraft) that appears to be floating, in an effort to show off the variegating chairs while minimizing obstructed water views. A large etched plaster sculpture, also designed by Maxwell, completes the space.
Illuminating the space, airy LED stainless steel orbs from Bethel International don’t block any sky views when seated on the Minotti sofa perched on a Creative Accents custom black wool rug.

With only two interior walls, the first floor’s layout showcases the team’s priority of bringing in those water views. The living room’s porcelain slabs, which create the fireplace wall, run from the front exterior of the house to the rear exterior. A true architectural feat, the slabs (4 feet wide, 10 feet tall and a half-inch thick) are just another detail that connects the home to the outside. Maxwell’s aim was warm and contemporary rather than cold and stark; thus she chose a natural color palette of creams and grays, oiled walnut detailing and European white oak 12-inch plank floors, which also help absorb sound in the glass home. That earthy color palette continues into the gourmet professional kitchen with grey quartzite countertops juxtaposing the Neff laminate cabinetry in metallic grey. They are framed in high-gloss wood grain laminate to define space in a home that lacks walls, while the mirrored pivoting pantry brings the views into the kitchen.

The streamlined kitchen features a Wolf integrated range and sleek cabinetry with integrated handles instead of protruding clunky hardware.

Heading upstairs, Maxwell designed the primary bedroom to be the homeowner’s sanctuary. Entering the space, there’s an element of surprise as the bed isn’t initially spotted. Instead, a slatwall walnut dresser defines the space until the bed, floating in the middle of the room, emerges. From that perspective, the room feels like a luxury yacht cabin. All the furniture in the room, except for the desk chair, was custom-made by Artistry Masters of Woodcraft, and that includes the desk suspended in air and designed to intersect the blackout curtains. The television, within the wall on a linear track, can electronically center the bed upon request and just as easily disappear, allowing the Intracoastal views to take center stage again.

A slatwall walnut dresser divides the space, while floating nightstands bookend the bed in the primary bedroom.

The home’s pronounced architectural volumes influenced how Gillen and his team designed the west-facing backyard.

“When you have a home with such amazing visual presence, the landscape needs to support that in a significant way,” he says. “(It) can’t just sit underneath it. It’s almost like a sculpture without a pedestal. The pedestal is important in holding up the structure. For us, the landscape was a way to help tie this home into the context of the Intracoastal and the neighborhood. It had to be unique but also feel like Florida.”

Dramatic architectural volumes help define the backyard’s linear design.

The volumes helped define the areas on the ground, including the fireplace, pool and the turf and pavement stripes, which marry the back with the front of the house. The clean and linear backyard, designed for easy upkeep, is spacious yet feels intimate, with the distinct areas, furnished by Roberta Schilling and Seasonal Living, giving homeowners a variety of options for entertaining alongside the pool.


• A place to cool off and escape the heat, like a pergola, cabana or loggia.

• A water source, like a pool or fountain.

• Maximized green space. Strike a balance between pavers and turf.

• Natural materials that are both beautiful and durable.

• Blue accents that enhance water and sky tones.

• Don’t block your views, but make the landscape interesting.

A unique feature, the metal screens add interest to the home’s exterior while inspiring the front yard’s linear design.

While many Floridians love the thought of backyard fireplaces, our scorching heat dictates how often they are used, and so Gillen wanted to ensure this home’s fireplace could also be enjoyed as a sculpture that felt like it had a purpose. Directly aligning with the front door, it visually connects the interior with the outdoors, its flickering flames inviting guests through the home to the outside. The linear porcelain feature was also placed adjacent to the spa as a way to add a sense of privacy from the inside. The home’s openness and breezy Intracoastal location led Gillen to choose wild grass for the seawall that wouldn’t obstruct any views and would move with the wind instead of stagnant hedges.

This story is from the July/August 2022 issue of Boca magazine. For more like this, click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie is a food lover, travel fanatic, bookworm, Francophile, and she believes art in all its forms is good for the soul. When she’s not writing about the incredible dishes, people and places that capture South Florida's culture and vibe, Christie is irresistibly happy in the company of her husband and a glass of red wine.

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