Charismatic Style

Key West design fits family lifestyle

Nicole and David Morgan have lived in quite a few homes—some they renovated, others they built new—but their latest endeavor is a one-story Key West-style residence in South Tampa that is absolutely perfect for their family’s casual lifestyle.

Choices to make

Their first challenge was to find a lot large enough to accommodate a more than 3,000-square-foot home, plus a large front porch and spacious pool and patio area in back. David and Nicole selected long-time friend (they were in each other’s weddings) Jon Solomon, owner of Javic Homes, to build their dream home because they were confident that he understood their needs and personal tastes. “We were very secure about working with Jon, even though there is always the possibility that the friendship might be at risk,” Nicole points out. “But when we saw one of Jon’s recently-built homes, it was so well-constructed that we immediately knew we would be able to work together.”

Prior to this home, the Morgans lived in a very traditional Beach Park residence, with two stories, separate dining room and formal living room featuring a special baby grand piano, given to the Morgans by a retiring USF music teacher. Now they live in a spacious, open home with minimal hallways, 12-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass patio doors in a U-shape around the pool area. The only “traditional” item they brought with them was the baby grand, which now welcomes visitors in an open foyer area.

In addition to their experience with the myriad of decisions required to select the lot, builder, architectural design and landscaping, the Morgans both have the “artistic eye” necessary to integrate the interior décor with the architectural style. Through her own business, Your Interior Motive, Nicole has decorated the homes of several friends and neighbors. “I got started about three years ago when my cousin asked me to decorate his condo before he moved in,” she explains, “and now I get such a natural high from all the colors, textures and shapes that I can be engrossed in a magazine (like Housetrends) for hours.”

Nicole is definitely not afraid of color, as evidenced by vivid yellow and coral walls and contrasting art and accent pieces. This talent seems to run in the family, with Nicole and David’s 7-year-old son, Cole, selecting the bright apple green front door.

Laid back style

Spacious and comfortable. That’s the laid-back Key West personality of this airy, light-filled, open design living space. Foyer, family room, dining area and kitchen flow together; walls seem to disappear. Even the furniture contributes to the “go with the flow” character. “I like to place the major pieces away from the wall, to create conversation areas, places where everyone can gather,” says Nicole. “Our family has visited Boca Grande many times, and we just love it there. It’s not too commercial, it gets quiet by 9 p.m., and that’s what I’ve tried to create within our Tampa home too.”

The Morgans are tropical people, laughs Nicole, who love the ocean, especially fishing—she brags of catching a 100-pound tarpon and a 120-pound sailfish on her honeymoon. So, throughout the house, fish are depicted in paintings, prints, sculptures and even fabrics. “Most of the art has been purchased while on vacation,” she notes, “so I call it ‘destination art.’ Each piece has fun-filled memories embedded in it.” Above the fireplace, the simple driftwood sign that reads “The Morgan Family” accentuates the importance of family ties.

Details count

Simplicity underscores all of Nicole’s choices…nothing frilly. All the pine furniture, including the dining room table, buffet, armoire, and master bedroom, are custom-designed by Andrew Lee of Pine Traditions, Orlando. The simplicity of these pieces blends well with the sisal carpets on cottage-style hardwood floors. The rustic look of the five-inch wide planks adds to the sense of spaciousness. Keeping it all in the family, David and Nicole asked his father, Richard Strickland, of RM Designs in Atlanta, to design and install the custom cabinetry and tile work and his uncle, Jose Goitia, of Euro Bath in Tampa to provide fixtures throughout the house.

Nicole and David love to entertain, so a well-designed kitchen area was a necessity. In fact, the layout of this kitchen is identical to the kitchens in two other Morgan homes. “This is the third time we’ve built the same kitchen,” Nicole points out. “The design is just right for the way I cook and entertain, so I’ve stayed with the tried and true. Why change when it’s already perfect?”

The cooking area is separated from the family room by a “monster island,” as Nicole refers to the large single-level counter that seats ten. The nearby family room boasts a fireplace and entertainment center. The white subway tiles and simple mantle beneath the flat screen television are repeated in the kitchen over the cooktop, which gives a balanced feel and sense of symmetry. The rain glass panels of the cabinetry also repeat the watery, tropical theme.

Private spaces

The master suite and other bedrooms, each with a theme décor, are situated at the four corners of the living areas. Cole’s bedroom is a “blue is for boys” space with intriguing sea turtles on wall hangings and pillows. Nicole’s office/guest bedroom has “Lilly Pulitzer” colors of pink and green, while a playroom displays fishing paraphernalia and trophies. The palm tree design on the headboard panels in the master suite sets a “Tommy Bahama” tone to the spacious bedroom. Even the walk-in closets continue the theme with multi-sized wicker baskets. The master bath includes David’s favorite: a whirlpool bath originally purchased by George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, who returned it because it was too big…but not too big for David to relax there, frequently watching TV while munching a hot dog.

Solomon maintains that the Morgan home is the most “inviting” house he has ever constructed. Because of his friendship with David and Nicole, he easily understood the type of custom home they were envisioning. “I appreciated that they were a couple that knew what they wanted and were very specific and detailed. That actually helps me to meet a client’s expectations,” he says.

His former career as a technology consultant for Accenture provided him skills not typical of most builders. Planning is critical to the success of a complex project, and Solomon, a self-described “budget hawk,” insists on completed plans and budget before any construction can begin. Once underway, he sends clients monthly budget and schedule updates so there are no surprises or misunderstandings. Says Solomon, “This was the right design for the right family…which is something I love to be a part of and help create.”


Builder: Jon Solomon, Javic Homes; Flooring: Bruce Hardwood; Daltile; limestone; Cabinetry: RM Custom Cabinetry, Atlanta, Georgia; Countertops: SKl Stonex; Appliances: GE Monogram oven; GE Profile microwave; Sub-Zero refrigerator; KitchenAid dishwasher; U-Line wine cooler; Lighting: Minka; Murray Feiss; Tommy Bahama, supplied by World of Lighting; Plumbing fixtures: Danze; Sigma; Kohler, supplied by EuroBath

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