Donna Nathan has her own spin on the “everything old is new again” adage. “For every house I’ve done, my theme is ‘classic is always new,’ ” says the homeowner, who renovated houses in New Jersey before taking up full-time residence in Florida. Along with her affection for timeless design came a discerning eye for good properties—and her current waterfront Lido Key homestead proved no exception. Bordered by acres of nature preserve, even her modest 1960s ranch looked passable in the exceptional setting. “I loved the location, but I was on the fence for a long time about doing a teardown,” she says.
Two decades of fence-sitting later, Donna finally opted to do the scrape, identifying British West Indies as the architectural direction for the replacement residence. “There was a lot of overdone Mediterranean going on, and I definitely wanted that old-world feel but cleaner,” says the homeowner, who was inspired by the shutters, trellises and balconies typical of West Indies-style homes.
Brick with coral accents and turf inlays forms a repeating diagonal pattern in the auto court, where landscape designer Stephen Hazeltine combined a variety of palms and ornamental plantings to evoke a tropical ambience. “The concept was to soften the hard surface while creating a focal point in toward the main entry doors,” he explains. Inside, interior designer Angela Rodriquez sought to marry the architecture and coastal setting with her client’s penchant for classical style. “Donna had magazine pages of interiors with beautiful trimwork as a common thread,” Rodriguez says. “So we looked to adapt that in such a way that it fit both the scale and tone of this home.” Wainscot paneling on the main floor and stairway, a coffered ceiling in the living room and a ceiling dome in the breakfast room are exquisitely wrought examples.
While wood-frame chairs in the living room and rattan and wicker furnishings in the kitchen speak to the West Indies, Donna’s collection of Oriental rugs provided traditional starting points in key public spaces. “I saw one unrolled and felt really strongly that it was destined for the living room,” says Rodriguez, who mimicked the creamy tones of the floor covering with the chenille sofa and played up the deep blues with navy velvet tub chairs. “It adds luxurious depth and allowed us to embrace a higher level of contrast not typical in a coastal living room in this region.”
Another rug complements the wood table and the ecru leather and chenille chairs in the dining room while the blue silk wallcovering connects the space to the nearby waterway. But it’s the predominantly white-on-white walls and upholstered pieces in similar tones that truly accentuate the home’s locale. “I love the way natural light plays up white trim work on white walls,” she says. “It’s so timeless and crisp, and it really shows off the excellent craftsmanship in construction.”
Luckily, general contractor Ryan Perrone welcomed the challenge of intricate tasks like mitering the edges of the raised walnut ceiling in the bar area of the club room, which, along with the wall paneling, was built on-site so that there was no need to cover the corners with trim. “The bar area is really special,” says Perrone. “It’s reminiscent of an English pub but on the beach, which brings out the West Indies flair.” Perrone also made his mark outside by installing cypress brackets on the garages and custom rafter tails, as well as assisting in the creation of a pergola to showcase Donna’s collection of exotic orchids, which Perrone refers to as the jewel of the house.
Accordingly, the master bath opens to reveal the private orchid garden and a bronze cupid fountain. A long rectangular mosaic inset on the floor leads the eye out to the plant array while an extra-wide marble tub deck can accommodate potted varieties. “The subtle white, gray and green palette allows nature to be the star,” says Rodriguez, who also responded to a homeowner request for a horse-themed mud room off the garage with vertical paneling reminiscent of a high-end tack room, as well as leather-wrapped cabinet pulls. “Donna came to us with a few different styles and influences in mind,” Rodriguez says. “Our approach is always to blend and balance different perspectives in such a way that we reach the magical feeling of cohesiveness seen here.”