Minimalist Open-Style Contemporary Home


When a couple with two children were planning to relocate to Boca Raton, it quickly became apparent they were not going to find an existing home that fit what they were looking for. It wasn’t the functional requirements—open floor plan, upstairs bedrooms, theater and game room—that posed a problem, so much as the form. “Nine out of 10 houses in Boca are Mediterranean in style,” says the husband. “They all have similar roofs and colors.” That would not be an option for the couple. From the start, they knew they wanted something minimal, clean and very contemporary. So, they proceeded to assemble a team that could build them the house they envisioned.

First on board was architect Jay Colestock. “We started with how many bed- rooms they wanted and how much square footage, and then the lot itself,” says Colestock. “The site has a lake behind it and then two fairways beyond that. That rear view is just spectacular.” Colestock laid out a floor plan for a two-story house with a raised foyer that looks out over the living and dining areas to the backyard and swimming pool; a guest bedroom is tucked away at one end. A kitchen, breakfast room and family room flow into one another, and a theater and game room round out the first floor. Three bedrooms, a large master suite and a second floor lounge complete the upstairs.

As the bones of the structure were settled, the couple brought in architect and interior designer Donald Yoshino, assisted by Ena Hughes, to realize the interiors they imagined. To help illustrate these ideas, the husband turned to a collection of books, magazines and old pictures that he had been saving for years. “From a young age, I was aware of design, style and a ‘less is more’ notion,” he says. “I’d been ripping out pages from magazines for a long time, all the while hoping I could one day build a house like this one.” Images filed away included a home in Naples by Richard Meier, a celebrity interior by Jennifer Post and any details that caught his eye, from a water feature at an Indian spa to an Ingo Maurer chandelier.

Yoshino distilled this information into a spare yet striking environment. “We simplified the elements in the basic drawings to make them work in a more minimalist fashion,” says Yoshino, who smoothed over coffered ceilings, removed all moldings and widened transitions for a more open feel. To emphasize the clean lines, he chose white porcelain tile and dark gray granite for the floors, recessed lighting and streamlined built-ins. “This house had a lot of creative challenges,” says general contractor Dan Mahoney. “The Mediterranean style is a little more forgiving because you can hide things. A contemporary house is all about the architecture. It’s much more demanding.” While the interiors began to morph into a sleek contemporary space, Yoshino addressed the exterior with the same intentions. Pitched roofs were flattened and stacked-stone cladding was replaced with simple drywall or the same dark granite used inside.

As the exterior and interior created a dialogue, the scenery joined the conversation. Landscape designer Don Murakami followed the same directives—clean, minimal, contemporary—and created grounds that would highlight those values. “The exterior hardscape is choreographed as a sequence of experiences,” says Murakami. “There are allusions to a Japanese dry garden, with large stepping stones and a variety of tall, elegant bamboo was installed to provide scale and privacy for the residence.”

Inside, the couple assembled a carefully edited selection of furnishings, including sculptural woven chairs from Artefacto, a custom dining table by Rotsen Furniture and a larger-than-king-size bed custom-made by Interior Services. They purchased all of the artwork from Trudy Labell Fine Art, including a piece by David Willis made with small glass flowers suspended from the ceiling. It was originally meant to be installed on the stair landing, but Yoshino notified the couple that according to the intent of feng shui, which he tries to follow in his designs, this would reject the good chi. “I looked up what ‘chi’ meant exactly,” says the wife, “and I thought, ‘No, we cannot block this.’” The artwork now hangs in the living room near a dramatic curved fireplace wall.

“There aren’t a lot of houses around here like this one,” says Yoshino. Between the two-tone exterior, manicured Japanese-like landscaping and sleek interiors, the structure does command attention. “The owners wanted to garner a ‘Wow!’ from wherever you went in the house,” he says. “That’s what we tried to do for them, and I think we succeeded.”