Let The Natural Light Pour In: A Caribbean-Style Home In Florida Honors The Past


loggia with wicker seating and...

A Caribbean-style home in Hobe Sound honors the past.

foyer with aqua walls and...

A Scalamandré grass cloth brightens the entry walls of a Hobe Sound house by architect Gil Schafer. Vaughan’s Granby lantern hangs over limestone and granite flooring. The draperies are made of a Schumacher linen. Chairs from Bamboo & Rattan with cushions in a Pierre Frey fabric rest beneath Ann-Morris wall sconces. A lamp from John Rosselli Antiques tops an antique commode.

aqua wall paint with black...

Scalamandré’s Kelmescott linen appears in the library on the draperies and an existing armchair, paired with a pillow in Quadrille’s Lane Stripe material. For the walls, Schafer reused the original cypress paneling from the same room of the family’s previous home. “It was important to our clients to preserve the memory of the original library in the new house,” he says.

library with wood walls and...

The library’s tangerine armchairs, in a Jane Shelton textile, hold pillows in the same Lee Jofa linen that covers the sofa, decorated with pillows in a Scalamandré jacquard. A Mitchell Denburg Collection rug covers the floor. The hanging light, over a coffee table from John Rosselli & Associates, and lamps are Soane Britain. Wood & Hogan chairs face an antique desk.

white kitchen with blue cabinetry

Merit Metal and Samuel Heath polished-nickel hardware decorate kitchen cabinetry by Coastal Millworks. Iatesta Studio’s Minoan counter stools, upholstered in Edelman Leather’s Dream Cow, pull up to a marble island countertop from Accurate Tile & Marble. A Barber Wilsons faucet pours into a Rohl sink.

white kitchen with blue cabinetry

Urban Archaeology’s Warehouse pendant and RH’s Harmon flushmounts offer light in the kitchen, outfitted with a Wolf range and Sub-Zero appliances. Absolute Hardwood Flooring supplied the wide-plank white-oak flooring.

coral patterned draperies and chaise

Cowtan & Tout’s Windermere fabric enlivens the family room draperies, armchair and ottoman. John Rosselli & Associates chairs with cotton Brunschwig & Fils cushions join an Iatesta Studio table, while a side table displays a Soane Britain lamp. A cotton rug by The New England Collection grounds the room. Barbara Vaughan artwork pops against a Schumacher sisal wallcovering.

allee of montgomery palms with...

On the exterior’s western side, an allée of Montgomery palms offers an idyllic scene for alfresco meals. “The clients’ batik tablecloths and 19th-century French rattan chairs feel very much at home in this tropical setting,” Schafer says. Jenkins Landscape Co. installed cat palms and green island ficus on the grounds, conceived by landscape designer Cecilia de Grelle and landscape architect Carrie Steinbaum.

bedroom with blue and white...

The master bedroom exhibits Blithfield’s Parnham linen on the bench and draperies, complemented by a Schumacher sheer and wallcovering. C&C Milano linen covers the ottoman and armchair, which supports a pillow in Scalamandré linen. The Robert Kime lamp, next to the owners’ side table, has a shade made of Old World Weavers silk. Schafer designed the four-poster bed by Larrea Studio.

bedroom with light blue wallcovering...

A Paule Marrot reproduction from Mecox pops against an Alan Campbell wallcovering in the master bathroom, crowned by Vaughan’s Littleton lantern. Between Soane Britain wall sconces, the architect designed the APF Munn medicine cabinet and the washstands, topped with Urban Archaeology sinks. Waterworks’ Empire tub is outfitted with a Barber Wilsons filler. The marble flooring and countertops are from Accurate Tile & Marble.

courtyard with tree and potted...

A pigeon plum tree occupies a walled courtyard, joined by star jasmine, potted elephant ear and Jamaican capers on Dominican coral pavers from Palm Beach Cast Stone. Munder Skiles chairs with cushions in Perennials’ Rough ‘N Rowdy fabric encircle a 1920s iron table. Next to Zeluck French doors, Vaughan’s Chartres lanterns are affixed to the stucco exterior, painted Benjamin Moore Dune White.

bedroom with light blue walls,...

The palette of the children’s bedroom, decked in Benjamin Moore Breath of Fresh Air, was inspired by the commissioned Idoline Duke artwork. The linen covering the headboard of Oly Studio’s Helena bed, dressed in Matouk linens, and the rug are Elizabeth Eakins. Vaughan’s Southwick lamp rests on Bunny Williams Home’s Inge side

green armchair in aqua bedroom

An armchair in Claremont silk complements Benjamin Moore’s Arctic Blue on a guest bedroom’s walls, which back linen Quadrille draperies and Rogers & Goffigon sheers. Atop a Mitchell Denburg Collection rug, a Robert Kim floor lamp stands next to a 19th-century side table. By Matouk’s Allegro bedding, Brunschwig & Fils silk covers a bench from The Elephant’s Foot Antiques.

Residences in Hobe Sound, Florida, tend to be secluded affairs, tucked behind tall hedges along quiet lanes. Obscured by a thicket of sea grapes on one such road, architect Gil Schafer has designed a couple’s Caribbean-style home that looks as if it’s been there for generations.

Building a new house wasn’t especially high on his clients’ to-do list. The land has been in the husband’s family for decades, and his grandmother had the existing house built in the 1970s. Although the structure didn’t utilize the site well and there were rooms the family rarely used, the husband had a strong sentimental attachment to the place. Enter Schafer, who’d completed a residence in the Adirondacks for the couple and their three children and knew how they wanted to live.

As the clients considered whether to renovate or rebuild, the architect suggested they start fresh with a design that features garden views on all four sides of the property while incorporating elements that made the original home so special. “Redoing it gave us some nice opportunities to rethink things,” he explains.

Schafer’s first move was to orient the house to minimize its impact from the front—an appreciative notion in an area with mindful zoning authorities. Designing the structure in an H shape, he situated the majority of the residence in a long wing at the rear of the property, where a formal allée of palm trees would invigorate a previously neglected area. The H configuration brings ample natural light into the interior and allowed for the creation of a loggia between the living area and the pool as well as a courtyard off the kitchen and family room. “We wanted a lot of indoor-outdoor relationships,” Schafer says. “If you’re going to be in this beautiful place, you want to embrace nature and light as much as you can.”

As the plan took shape, the architect, who also oversaw the project’s interior design, identified details from the original residence to bring into the new home. The cypress-paneled library had been a favorite room for family gatherings and holidays, so the pickled boards were carefully salvaged for the new library, which occupies the same spot. When there wasn’t enough of the old cypress, Schafer tapped general contractor Dave Chesser to match new wood for the wainscoting, bookcases and fireplace surround. Chesser also put to use the house’s original brass door hardware—which had been handpicked by the husband’s grandmother—replicating the knobs as needed. He also moved the old library mantel to the new master bedroom.

With the structural details decided, landscape designer Cecilia de Grelle and landscape architect Carrie Steinbaum got to work creating lush gardens. The duo combined formal and informal arrangements of plantings, used native trees and fauna and introduced coconut and straight-trunked Montgomery palms. “It’s a garden in harmony with the house and the environment,” de Grelle says. “And there’s a good balance between formal and expressive.” Steinbaum agrees. “The idea was to make it look as if it had always been there,” she says. “The palette is subtle, with spots of color.”

The interiors, by contrast, are bursting with vivid hues, starting in the entrance hall, where Schafer combined a turquoise silk grass cloth for the walls and patterned draperies in coral and white. Glazed coral-colored walls form a lively tropical backdrop for the living area’s antiques, many of which belonged to the husband’s grandmother. Salmon and blue also accent the casual family room off the open-plan kitchen.

“My husband and I are very traditional, but we like bright colors,” says the wife, who worked closely with Schafer to select fabrics and wallcoverings. “Gil takes our tradition and puts a spin on it. He’ll say, ‘Let’s do bright but in a more contemporary way.’ ” As Schafer explains of his strategy, “You have to be careful in the tropics not to make things feel too heavy. I wanted to give the clients a little formality balanced with a more relaxed Caribbean feel.” Throughout, he modulated ceiling heights and styles—a coffered ceiling in the living area and tray ceilings in spaces like the library, family room and bedrooms. The hall connecting the upstairs bedrooms has a sloping roofline with open rafters. “I wanted it to look as if we’d closed in an open-air porch,” he notes.

For Schafer, details like these go a long way to ground the new structure and make it a home that will remain in the family for years to come. “You want as much as possible for things to feel inevitable and natural,” he says.