As one pulls up to the entry of this 20-acre estate, an air of mystery prevails with live oaks and royal palms filtering the view. Privacy is key in this natural environment, where wildlife roam freely. Once inside the gates, the property’s pièce de résistance begins its reveal. Winding in and around a 3⁄4-acre pond, the road curves to the entrance of a sprawling retreat that welcomes you with the warmth and character of a bygone era. Accented with shutters and louvered doors, it hints of a West Indies island plantation.
But there’s no sugarcane here. Rather, this plantation resides in Jupiter’s Ranch Colony, an exclusive community that caters to lovers of airplanes, golf and the equestrian life. The property provides a foster farm for the owners’ rescue horses, with six paddocks, a full working barn and two running sheds. “It’s our way of giving back to these animals that can’t take care of themselves,” the wife says.
When deciding on the home’s style, the owners credit a house they saw in the first issue of Luxe Interiors + Design as inspiration. So it was only natural they hire the same design team, Marlene Murrah and Cesar A. Molina, to bring to life their version of tropical plantation living. “They wanted a comfortable home without formality—clean and transitional,” Murrah says.
To carry out their plan, builder Marc Angles took a hands-on approach, showcasing his passion for the project in every detail. To start, he removed an existing barn where the house would reside and repurposed the wood to create the horse stables now on property. He also refurbished a second existing barn to become fully functioning. “It was a great marriage, where we all brought our strongest abilities to the table,” Angles says. “We all spoke the same language.”
That explains why the home communicates so well, from the entry gazebo, through the main house, to the pool pavilion and terraces. “It’s a rare opportunity to have all of the different components work so well together,” Molina says. And with 10 outdoor sitting areas, the home seamlessly merges the interior and exterior. A mirror-image front and back, the main home spreads out in an I-shape with French doors that open onto the picturesque landscape. Taking into account the vantage point from nearly every room, landscape designer Jorge A. Sanchez and project manager Carolyn M. Pendelton-Parker created viewsheds with foliage that lead the eye to scenic points of interest, and paired plantings with undulating ground planes. “Properties like this evolve over time,” says Sanchez. “We kept what was best to keep, removed certain trees and planted others, but always kept in mind how the owners were going to use the property.”
While the great room fills the right wing, the master bedroom and bath make up the left. In the center, the public areas line the first floor, and three guest rooms rest on the second floor. Together, they create the perfect space for cooking and entertaining. Nearby, a separate guesthouse above a three-car garage offers visitors privacy for extended stays.
From the Dominican coral-stone columns and flooring and custom finish on the rafter tails to the cypress-wood ceilings, the home’s architectural details sing. Inside, Murrah’s broad design can be seen in the space planning and interior finishes and detailing, right down to the doors. “I chose 8-foot-high solid oak doors that won’t slam because they’re so heavy,” she says. “There’s depth and substance to every aspect of the home.”
French oak flooring lays the foundation for a soothing monochromatic palette of taupe, gray and linen warmed by touches of vanilla and cognac throughout. Aside from a few custom-designed sofas, chairs and area rugs, Murrah used a majority of the owners’ pieces that she either reupholstered in linen or hemp or refinished for a more updated look. Oak was also the wood of choice for most of the cabinetry and built-ins.
For the finishing touches, the couple accessorized with their existing art and antiques, such as a Regency amboyna table, an 18th-century Italian bench and the porter’s chair in the formal living room. “We always like to bring things from the past and include them in our homes,” the wife says.
After a long day on the farm, the owners retire outside to the palm rope sofa and chairs on the veranda. With a mint julep or plantation punch in hand, they enjoy a little Southern comfort in the tropics.
—Heather L. Schreckengast