“It was a total fluke,” says the owner of a sublime John’s Island house who discovered the area while she and her husband were on a trip to Vero Beach. “We had been looking for a place to get away from the rain and cold of San Francisco’s winters. When a friend invited us down for a visit, we were instantly captivated by the town.” The couple were drawn to the abundance of activities and culture, as well as the area’s international feel. “When we got there,” she recalls, “I thought it was just incredible.”
True to form, the owners—who both have professional backgrounds in commercial architecture and high-end furniture—began touring the area to find the perfect home away from home. They looked at every type of property available and when they came upon this house, everything clicked. Recently renovated by David N. Moulton and Scott R. Layne, of architectural firm Moulton Layne, and builder Jack Welton of JC Welton Construction, the house was open and bright with high ceilings, lots of windows and French doors opening out to landscaped gardens and a swimming pool. What it needed was someone to help transform the interiors into something that better reflected the couple’s tastes—an aesthetic that spoke to their lifestyle back in California. San Francisco-based designer Amy Weaver was just the person to call. “Amy is one of my best friends and we’ve worked together many times,” the wife says. “She knows what we like and we’re always on the same page.”
Weaver’s first task was establishing an appropriate style and palette. “The architecture was in good shape, but the interiors needed revamping,” notes the designer. “The owners liked warmer tones, something unexpected that was a departure from South Florida’s quintessential pinks and greens.” To that end, she laid a neutral base of taupes, whites, grays and browns, then popped in some saffron and orange for color.
Working from her home base in San Francisco, Weaver plotted finishes and developed design boards and computerized floor plans to determine where all of the furnishings would go. Some pieces were designed by Weaver herself, while others were sourced from California in order to foster a more West Coast vibe. “We invested in pieces like Palecek sofas that would be around forever, as well as wonderful, sturdy fabrics,” she says. “Everything was personalized, but not everything was precious.”
Two side-by-side areas—a casual family room with a relatively dark color scheme and a lighter, more formal living room—represent many of Weaver’s foundational design concepts. For instance, each is laid out with ultimate livability and function in mind. “The flow of how a room works is really important to me,” she explains. “Whether you have 12 people or two people in a room, you have to keep it open so it’s easy for everyone to gather and talk.”
Each room also features highly textured fabrics and furnishings with nature-inspired detailing, such as a Paul Ferrante coffee table with a delicate branch-like base in the living room and super-comfortable Palecek armchairs with gnarly, woven rattan backs in the family room. And each is layered with just the right amount of found objects, eclectic accessories and accent pieces, much of which were from the owners’ personal collection. “I love accessorizing,” says the wife. “Everything is unique, and I switch out objects all the time.” Weaver agrees the owner has a knack for choosing accoutrements. “We’re in sync with how much to layer in a house without it looking overdone,” she says.
While not much of the existing kitchen was changed, repurposing an open space alongside a pair of doors leading to a terrace allowed for a dining room with an indoor-outdoor feel. “The doors are open 80 percent of the time,” shares Weaver. So for practical purposes, the bamboo-framed dining chairs were upholstered with a durable, indoor-outdoor fabric—a concept that the designer employed wherever possible.
Of the entire process—which took about three months from start to finish—both Weaver and the owners agree that the installation was a major accomplishment. “We sent two huge semis down to Florida filled with furniture and everything from sheets and towels to custom-size carpets,” says Weaver. “When it got there, we worked for four days, putting floor plans out on every room for the movers, making beds and doing a full installation. It was like instant gratification; my favorite part of the job.”
When pressed to pick a preferred space or area of the house now, the wife wavers. “It’s different depending on the time of day,” she says. “The nook in the kitchen with a Saarinen table is my favorite New York Times-and-coffee spot. I also love to sit under the covered terrace at 5 or 6 in the evening. And the master suite is pretty luxurious; it’s a very comfortable place to be.”
In the end, their goal for a California-meets-Florida retreat where they can escape Bay Area winters and entertain family and friends was met and surpassed. “We have house guests in and out all the time,” the wife says. “Amy did such a wonderful job. There’s a definite relationship to our house in San Francisco, and when you’re here, you just get it.”