Tucked into lush greenery, a crisp Key Largo residence stands tall, its white-capped roofs at home among the tops of palm trees. Passersby could easily mistake it for a boutique hotel, as portrayed by the cabana-like structures that wrap around a pool deck. Certainly, this is the at-ease atmosphere the owner desired for her guesthouse in the Florida Keys, a unique space that offers room for everyone. “This interior is all about having a family get together,” says designer Andrea Goldman. “We wanted it to be about happy times.”
For years, the owner and her husband had eyed this property, located next door to their vacation home. With three daughters, each married, and nine grandchildren, their residence was becoming quite crowded. A guest compound could offer comfortable accommodations for the whole clan.
Their opportunity to buy the house came after the husband had passed. But knowing it was what he had envisioned, the wife and her family carried out his wish for a new structure on the lot. Fortunately, she had a design team who knew her taste well: Architect Clemens Bruns Schaub and builder Dean Stathis had constructed the main vacation home, and Goldman—a family friend—had stayed there as a guest. “I really loved the house and could appreciate the designers who worked on that property and what they had done,” Goldman says. Their intimate experiences with the property gave each an advantage regarding a key factor of the project: The owner wanted the guest quarters to have a similar look and feel as the main house, a Bermuda-inspired structure. “That made it a seamless process for us, because we all knew exactly what we were getting,” the designer says. “There wasn’t any guessing going on.”
This wasn’t going to be a typical house, however. Knowing much of the entertaining would occur in the main home, the owner intended for the compound to focus less on living space and more on luxurious sleeping quarters for each of her daughter’s families. So Schaub designed three equally sized adjoining two-bedroom bungalows, each with its own bathroom, that gather around a swimming pool and share a family room and kitchen. Using the same inspiration for the original residence, he looked to the cottage-like feel of Bermuda homes, continuing shellstone flooring from the main house and mimicking Bermudian roofs with concrete tiles. “It has this fun frosting look to it, like they were carved out of a little cube of sugar,” the architect muses. Because the structure is on a floodplain, it had to be elevated, which also offered a unique opportunity to connect to the main home via a raised boardwalk, creating a treehouse feel amid plantings such as screw pines and black timber bamboo arranged by landscape designer Neil Sickterman. “All of the details fell together to make a really cool project to work on,” Stathis says. “Every space has a purpose.”
The client requested the bedrooms be given equal weight—no preferential treatment for anyone—so Goldman, along with designers Maize Jacobs-Brichford and Rachel Patek, carried out consistent details in each, such as a playful wallcovering, durable fabrics and reading lights mounted at every headboard. “It worked, it was practical and it was unique, so we repeated it,” she says. Yet each bedroom has its own distinct character thanks to layers of materials that provide pops of color and texture: a seagrass bed in a serene green space, a rope-wrapped one in another, a gray daybed amid patterned blue walls. Notably, many fabrics and decor objects have a meaningful nod to Africa, where the family had carried out philanthropic work. “They already had art, accessories, tapestries and items of that nature,” the designer explains. Pillows with African-inspired patterns, for instance, play well off shiplap walls, giving the compound a departure from a typical Floridian style, as the owner requested.
With its breezy nature, the compound serves its purpose as the site of new memories for the client and her relatives, each of whom now has comfort and privacy in a space of their own. “I asked a couple of my team members, ‘If you were a guest in this house, which room would you pick?’ And we all said a different room,” Goldman recalls. “That’s exactly what we wanted. It felt like we held up our end of the bargain.”