By the time the ink dried on the contract for Alfred and Sheila Quirk’s new Tequesta home on the banks of the Loxahatchee River, they had a house—and a designer. Introduced through friends, Jacquelyn Armour “came by the morning of the closing, and we knew immediately she was pretty special,” says Sheila. “We went right back to her office to get started.”
The house they had just purchased was brand-new, the work of architect Scott Blakeslee Disher, of Architectural Studio, and builder Joseph Pease. It came complete with great bones, allowing Armour the perfect canvas to capture the relaxed, elegant essence of Florida. Unlike the Quirks’ more traditional residences in Connecticut and on Cape Cod, here “they were open to doing something completely new and different,” Armour recalls, “as long as we used a lot of blue.”
Throughout the house, blue surely serves as the unifying thematic element, providing subtle grace notes in some spaces, while boldly revving up the home’s surroundings in others. In the living room, for example, much of the blue comes from the river beyond, so, says Armour, “the first order of business was to remove several columns in the living and dining rooms, to open up the space and call attention to the view.” The builder returned to the project with a familiar hand to execute the modifications. “Coming back to it was awesome for me because I got to put in the finishing touches,” says Pease, who also swapped carpet out for dark-stained wood floors and added a few new architectural elements.
The rich tone of the wood flooring provided the ideal contrast for attention to be placed on the living room fireplace—a tour de force featuring an overmantel that Pease studded with handpicked seashells. “I mimicked the effect of the water washing over the shore,” the builder says. This paved the way for Armour to infuse the room with coastal inspirations that further supported the focal point. “Instead of going with a stronger palette here, we used texture and softer colors to allow the fireplace stand out,” Armour notes of the room’s sandy hues. “The area rug is a beautiful, nubby wool-and-sisal combination, and the wool-and-linen fabric on the sofa has an almost tweed-like feel. As a reference to the riverside location, one of the accent pillows has actual pieces of driftwood sewn on as appliques.”
In the nearby dining room, Armour looked for an element that would be equally as compelling as the living room’s fireplace. “The wall is huge, so we needed a big, strong statement piece,” she explains. “The mirror we went with is lightly gilded and has a great feel to it. I also added texture on the wall to warm up the space a little bit. The Quirks had initially wanted a strong coral color, but I convinced them that this lets the architecture and view shine.”
Elsewhere, blue design elements take center stage. In the family room and on the adjacent lanai, crisp navies and strong sky-inspired shades dominate in a mix of bold patterns and stripes for the furnishings. Blue reappears on the walls with a gentle tint in the family room and kitchen. In the latter, the color plays off the fabric on the counter stools, and the curved Carrara marble-topped island imbues elegance.
When Armour and the homeowners began the project, Sheila wished for the house “to convey a sense of family and fun, to make it a place they were drawn to,” the designer says. So far it has succeeded, as they routinely gather there during winter breaks. “When you walk in, you get a calm, serene feeling,” says Armour. “There’s not a lot visually that overwhelms you; it’s lively yet soothing.” Just as living on the banks of a river should be.