Whenever Mike McKeon called his parents in Southern California from New York City, they would brag about their endless days of sunshine. It wasn’t until five years ago, when he rented a friend’s beach condo in Naples, Florida, that Mike realized his mom and dad might be onto something. “It was January and every day was 80 degrees and clear blue sky,” he recalls. That was enough to convince him to make the city his primary residence—and it didn’t hurt that he got to one-up his parents. “Now I’ve got that sunshine in Florida,” he recalls telling them. “But everything’s green around here as opposed to brown.”
Though he first settled for a condo on the beach, Mike soon decided he needed more space and set his sights on a block of land in Old Naples. While perusing other houses in the neighborhood for inspiration, the work of architect Jeff Harrell caught his attention. Among the many things Mike and Harrell saw eye-to-eye on, one stood out: symmetry. “The house is highly symmetrical, which is a trait of many classic houses,” Harrell explains. While Mike favored a classic Old Naples design, he also wanted the home to feel contemporary. Much of that came from Harrell’s creative vision, brought to life by builder Ron Davidson, who says the intricate touches are what make the design work. “With the level of detail, including exterior corbels and elaborate interior trim, we were able to combine features to create a modern yet traditional look that is timeless,” he says.
Mike and Harrell were both also passionate about prioritizing sunshine. “Natural light always dominates everything we do,” Harrell explains. “Our goal is that the house doesn’t require lights on anytime during the day.” He and his team installed floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, as well as a skylight over the staircase. In the bathrooms and laundry room, they used bottom-up shades that allow light to come in while still providing privacy.
Most importantly, the homeowner didn’t want a stark white spec house. As such, designer Paula Myette, working with interior designer Faith Fix, opted for a soothing neutral palette with a twist, combining warm whites, grayish greens and shades of blue. “While the home is quite spacious, the rooms are very human-scaled, so it’s easier to make a room feel inviting,” Myette says. “What’s important to me as I’m putting together the interiors, especially when using a light color palette, is having a variety of textures.” A soft-patterned wool carpet and an ivory chenille sectional in the living room and smooth sateen duvets in the bedrooms help to create a comfortable space, while combinations of wood, leather, metal, linen and glass provide visual interest. “It all adds depth and richness.”
In the “hers” master bath, a double slipper tub, flora- and-fauna-print wallpaper and crystal details create a more traditional milieu. But Mike says the goal was to create a personal sanctuary for the lady of the house, even if it leaned a little less contemporary than the rest of the design. “I asked a lot of happily married people if they use the same bathroom as their spouse and almost everyone said no,” he laughs.
A steady flow of guests escaping the Northeast chill meant that welcoming alfresco spaces were essential. The homeowner envisioned a series of outdoor rooms that connected with the house, including a breezy lanai with a fireplace. An odd zoning issue that arose from the house being on two alleys meant that the garage doors had to be accessed from the back of the house. This forced the design team to think creatively when planning the rear courtyard, which features a putting green, a pond-style pool and a garden. In order to provide a view corridor directly in line with the great room, the team decided to split the three-car garage, using the walls as vertical gardens. “The client wanted a very clean look,” says landscape architect Edward Westwood, Jr. of the courtyard. “Our challenge was to select and arrange the plantings so that we could accomplish lushness through variety, interesting textures and layering, while also providing a relaxed visual structure that looked organized.”
While that new foliage gradually blooms to its full potential, Mike revels in the views of a canopy of mahogany trees that have long resided in the neighborhood. “I love to sit in a little swivel chair with a book in my hand in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows upstairs and look out over all the trees,” he says. “It’s almost as if you’re gazing at a bit of forest—well, a forest for Florida.”