Written by: Sarah J. Dills/Photos by: Joe Traina
When New England newlyweds moved to Florida 16 years ago for the husband’s career, they thought they’d entered a “tropical paradise.” But it would take 11 years, and one massive home remodel, to finally find their slice of paradise on the water.
“When we moved to Florida we didn’t have children,” the wife explains. “We didn’t live on the water either. As our family grew we wanted to be closer to our boys’ school, and we wanted them to grow up on the water.” The homeowners assembled a trio of local contractors to help them create their dream home.
What lies beneath?
Interior designers Ron Haynes and Bruce Laughridge, of Urban Innovations, were enlisted to help the homeowners find and design the home. “We had helped the homeowners on the interior design in their previous home,” Haynes explains of meeting the homeowners. “We then helped them house hunt and find this home.”
The house that the homeowners settled on was built in the late 50s / early 60s and remodeled several times. “Some remodels had been more successful than others,” Haynes points out. “The house had more character than some of the newer constructions we saw, and it appeared to be structurally sound…but we found major problems below the surface.”
Carmine Pici, of Tom Pici and Son Builders, was brought on to spearhead the construction process. Michael Bright, owner of Bright Wood Works, created the custom cabinetry.
While they were able to maintain the basic floor plan of the home, Pici led the team in gutting the house down to the bones. It was rebuilt with new windows, a new roof, new electric and plumbing. The only place where walls were removed was in the kitchen where the breakfast area and laundry room were combined to create a larger, more open space.
The wife explains that they were originally planning to build, so they had a vision of a home with Tuscan elements that looked authentic, not contrived.
“When we found our house, we loved its old-Florida feel,” she says. “We felt like it would blend well with some of the Tuscan elements we were looking for. We wanted our home to feel timeless, not trendy.”
Laughridge explains some of the ways they made sure the Tuscan elements were authentic in this project. “The copper pieces used on the ceiling were placed outside to weather naturally before being installed. It didn’t take long in the ocean air, and it made a huge difference.”
The homeowner explains how this copper detail from the ceiling was mimicked on her kitchen island. “The island countertop is made of copper with a living finish, which means it reacts to acid found in foods. So if I spill tomato sauce it will turn my countertop the color of a shiny penny. It’s always changing, and I don’t have to worry about making a mess while I cook with my boys.”
Bright utilized his expertise to create the elegant cabinetry. “Bright Wood Works did an 8-step finish on the island to get that multi-layered look,” Haynes says of the black island with red highlights.
One of Bright’s favorite elements in the kitchen is the raised panel backsplash that is very unique. “A backsplash would typically be stone or tile, which we did use behind the cooktop, but the wooden backsplash along the rest of the wall gives the overall cabinetry a furniture look,” Bright explains. “We used an industrial finish to keep the wood from damage. The multi-step finish matches the cabinetry.”
Elements of Mizner style
Bright loves that the project looks period. “It looks like it’s evolved over 50 to 100 years,” he says. “The kitchen peninsula was capped with an armoire built to look like a piece of furniture.”
Bright recalls a comment Haynes and Laughridge made about this home. “They used the design term Mede-Tuscan, a blend of Mediterranean and Tuscan that was made popular by Addison Mizner, to describe this project.”
Mizner, one of the most influential figures of southern Florida’s early 20th century building boom, launched a “Florida Renaissance” with his Mediterranean style of architecture.
Mizner said that his ambition was to “make a building look traditional and as though it had fought its way from a small unimportant structure to a great rambling house.”
This quote seems fitting for a home that sat unoccupied for over a year before being brought back to life by a lively family and a talented team of craftsmen.
The roaring 20s
In their master bathroom, the homeowners had a distinct era they were hoping to replicate. “They wanted the bathroom to feel like it was installed in the 1920s,” explains Haynes. “We went with all Carrara marble and polished chrome fixtures.”
The floor plan of the space stayed as it was, with an expansive, u-shaped closet tucked behind the walk-through shower. The closet is accessed through the two, curved doors on either side of the massive soaking tub.
“The bathroom had a skylight that was off-centered,” Haynes says of one of their design challenges. “That’s how we came up with the idea for the boxed soffit. It corrected the symmetry, brought diffused natural light into the space and mimicked the frosted glass providing privacy to the shower.”
“We love how open and bright our master bathroom is,” the homeowner says. “While we don’t get to utilize our beverage station as much as we’d like with our busy lives with three boys, we are hoping to enjoy that more in the future.”
Resources: Residential design, kitchen and bathroom design: Ron Haynes, Urban Innovations, Inc.; Custom cabinetry: Michael Bright, Bright Wood Works; Contractor: Carmine Pici, Tom Pici and Son Builders; Interior design: Bruce Laughridge, Urban Innovations, Inc.; Lighting: Restoration Hardware; Dennis & Leen, Jerry Pair and Associates; Countertops and tile backsplash: Custom Marble Works; Kitchen sink and faucet: Linkasink; Newport Brass, Ferguson; Appliances: Thermador dishwasher, refrigerator, oven; Dacor cooktop; Brew Express built-in coffee maker, Ferguson; Bathroom sinks, faucets and shower fixtures: Ferguson; Bathtub: Pearl, Ferguson