One thing any Sarasotan will unabashedly boast about is the area’s spectacular sunsets. “Everyone gathers each evening, up and down the water, to watch the magnificent display,” interior designer Kelly Wolf-Anthony says. “People plan to be home—that’s how magical it is.” This isn’t just bluster; there is science behind how the city’s dust-free sight lines across the Gulf of Mexico allow for some of the country’s clearest and most colorful sundown shows. Suffice to say, when Wolf-Anthony was tasked with outfitting a newly constructed residence poised at a prime bayside location, the unparalleled views drove the design.
The house, a getaway for a couple with four young children, was envisioned with resort-like ambience. The architecture takes its inspiration from the West Indies, explains residential designer John Cooney. With Randall Stofft serving as the project’s architect of record, Cooney sketched out a light-filled dwelling that utilizes dark-stained wood, compound pitched rooflines and an entry pavilion. “What we landed on was nothing ornate but still sophisticated and tropical in nature,” Cooney says, noting how the lush landscaping, loggia, and fire and water elements by landscape designer Stephen Hazeltine—including a walkway that bridges glassy pools—help boost the retreat’s island vibe. Also on the homeowners’ wish list were ample guest quarters (a portion of the house contains three extra bedrooms, with double doors that can close off the entire wing for privacy); a central club room with billiards, pingpong tables and a wet bar; and plenty of outdoor living spaces.
Nodding to the exterior’s appearance while not hewing to it, a clean-lined decor scheme sets the scene indoors. “Our clients didn’t want traditional furniture, palm fronds or bamboo,” Wolf-Anthony notes of the motifs often associated with Caribbean design. “They leaned toward lighter, brighter tones and textures.” It was important to make the home livable, relaxed and child-friendly while still elevated and elegant. To get there, she peppered in performance fabrics and purposely layered what she describes as “coastal but not cliche” references. These include a lacquered chest with an oyster-shell mirror in the foyer, barnacles as an art installation on the curved wall of the breakfast nook and touches of jute, raffia and rope. Thoughtfully emphasizing the views (and those sunsets) affected her choices, too: The interior designer opted for tonal finishes and fabrics with few patterns, letting a wash of creamy whites and natural hues prevail.
Rather than stand out, the neutral-on-neutral color palette highlights the interior architecture. Just look up, Cooney advises: The ceilings are intricately detailed. “We have coffered, painted, tongue-and- groove, vaulted and more,” he points out. “Every room in this house has its own charm and character.” Builder Ricky Perrone, who worked on the project with his father, general contractor Rich Perrone, concurs: “You can’t walk into a single space in this home and not feel like it’s well executed from both an interiors and a construction perspective.”
The interiors process was remarkably seamless, as Wolf-Anthony and the home’s kitchen and bath designer, Matthew Quinn, were already intimately familiar with the family’s lifestyle. Frequent collaborators, the two had been working on the owners’ main residence in Atlanta when their clients purchased this vacation property. The pair then began anew in Sarasota, with Quinn concentrating on space planning and “function, function, function,” he says of key areas like the kitchen, club room and primary bath. “Watching Kelly and Matthew work together is like seeing a good basketball team at play—someone’s always in the air ready to catch the ball,” the husband laughs. As the interior designer reveals, “We both understand that you’re not just picking out cabinets; you’re picking out a whole mood.”
Here, that mood has a few unexpected moments. Just look to the entryway stairs, carpeted in a statement blue ombre reminiscent of ocean waves, or see the living area’s draperies, which read creamy white but are dip-dyed with an eye-catching gradient of blues for a similar effect. There are whimsical photographs by Gray Malin in the playroom and tons of spirited details, like tasseled ottomans and glossy surfboards displayed as sculptures. “We wanted the design to be fun but never cheesy—a sophisticated fun,” the husband says. Chimes in Wolf-Anthony, “We went for that cool factor with some surprises mixed in.” It worked: “I’m still noticing new things each time we visit, and every space is so special,” the husband says. “It’s serene.” Especially at sundown.