There aren’t many places quite like the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter. During high tide, ocean water floods the inlet, drawing in sea life like dolphins, eels and sharks. When it recedes, the brackish water then brims with freshwater fish. The area has always enchanted Fort Lauderdale natives Larry and Mary Ellen Anderson. “We were totally mesmerized by the beauty of the wide vistas of the river,” Larry says.
Years went by before the couple could move 70 miles north. But finally, they acquired a spectacular lot just larger than an acre on a curve of the river. “They decided this was the time to build a house on that inlet,” says the couple’s interior designer, Phyllis Taylor. “It was a lifelong dream.”
The Andersons envisioned a home with a classical architectural style, as though it had been inherited throughout generations. Larry’s cousin, architect Gregory Anderson, established the structure’s exterior and general form. From there, architect Fernando Torre-Sarlat finalized the interior layout, and general contractor Joe Pease executed the build.
The result resembles a coastal-style farmhouse with a welcoming front porch and traditional pillars. The exterior is clad with white concrete siding that masquerades as painted cedar shake, punctuated by dark window shutters. Also on the property is a two-bedroom guesthouse, a lagoon-like swimming pool, two putting greens and a dock. “It’s an incredible destination for the clients’ family,” Pease says. And it’s not just for the owners: Areas such as powder rooms and the pool deck are wheelchair accessible, making the site ideally suited for the couple’s charity events and large family gatherings.
In a similar vein, the house needed to incorporate beautiful yet practical materials that would hold up to guests. “Everything has to be livable—or, when it wears, it has to look better than when it was new,” Taylor says. She heeded the call right from the foyer, where the flooring is gray-and-white checkered concrete and shell, rather than a more sensitive polished stone. The team also opened the space to the walnut wood stairs. “The staircase is the jewelry of the room,” the interior designer says. “The treads are like pearls on a necklace.”
The foyer looks into the living room, where Taylor established the interior’s formal yet relaxed coastal feel. There, an abaca rug grounds mixed furnishings such as a tufted sofa wearing an indoor-outdoor fabric and a British Colonial daybed. “I don’t think an interior is successful if everything is from the same place and time,” Taylor says. “I look for undertones and signals.” The room also defines the home’s color palette: blue with pops of deep pink, inspired by a certain plant in the landscaping. “The Andersons said their favorite flower is bougainvillea, but Larry wasn’t sure about bringing it inside,” Taylor recalls. “I said, ‘Well, if you have it in your yard, it’ll always be on the interior, because it grows around the windows and trellises. Why not bring it in?’ ” She referenced the flower—captured in an oil painting above the fireplace—in the striped silk of the daybed, while blue armchairs echo the room’s Murano chandelier.
The lighting fixture calls attention to the molded ceiling, which Taylor designed to resemble plaster. “Every single ceiling in this house has some sort of enrichment,” she says. Pressed tin appears in the breakfast area and the kitchen, where it reflects light thanks to windows added as part of a reorientation plan. “We put the refrigerators and tall cabinets on the main elevation wall—it blocks out the house next door—and let the upper and side parts be light,” the interior designer says. Against the traditional white cabinetry, the owners requested one blue element, so Taylor responded with a brilliant blue book-matched marble backsplash. “It reminds Mary Ellen of a butterfly and a heart,” Larry says.
The color carries into the breakfast area, where Taylor coordinated it with a vibrant orange on the built-in banquette and pair of chandeliers. Surrounded by a bank of windows, four blue patterned armchairs in the room’s lounge space swivel to offer views of the outdoors. The coastal vibe carries up the stairwell, which has the sense of climbing a lighthouse thanks to a large metal lantern hanging from the ceiling. Like other statement fixtures in the residence, this one is notably oversize. “For a space to be memorable, the lighting should be slightly irrational—too large or too small, never proper scale,” Taylor says. Wall treatments contribute to the nautical look: a neutral grass cloth in the stairwell; an accent wall of vertical tongue-and-groove paneling in a guest bedroom. “It’s a memory of the woodwork happening in the rest of the house,” she says.
Of course, no space welcomes the outdoors better than the loggia, overlooking the river. Phantom screens drop from the ceiling, protecting guests on wicker-framed furniture from the elements. “People feel very relaxed here, and that was the point,” Larry says. “It’s like being at a resort—a real blessing.”