A little more than 10 years ago, when a young family purchased a home in Naples, Florida they conveniently found design assistance from the person who knew the house best: the seller. The previous owner, designer Kelli Fontana Vogelgesang, happily agreed to outfit her former dwelling for its new occupants—and then another residence the couple later acquired in the Northeast. Before long, though, “we needed more space and storage,” the wife says. “We always have so much family over, and I wanted a playroom for the children.” So they contacted the designer for their third and greatest endeavor: a 14,000-square- foot Naples home to be constructed where three others once stood on more than four acres, land they had purchased a few years earlier. “Every square inch of the house gets used,” Vogelgesang says. “There’s not a room that’s just for show. It’s a well-thought-out design.”
The West Indies-style structure, by general contractor John Covelli, welcomes natural light through generous windows and features touches of coastal elements, paying tribute to Naples’ tropical landscape. This applies to the functionality, too, as he considered protection from water intrusion. “We brought in 1,200 loads of dirt to raise the property and the house several feet above the street,” he says. Like a boutique hotel, the interiors offer desirable amenities such as a library, theater and gym, all presented through a graceful flow conducive to everyday living. “Much of the house is on one floor,” notes Covelli, who worked with residential designer Chris Godwin. “But we created a façade that looks like a two- story home, with glass doors and windows along the second floor.”
To ensure the structure’s scale wouldn’t feel overwhelming, the clients desired an intimate atmosphere. “They wanted it to be welcoming, approachable, timeless and luxurious,” Vogelgesang says. To implement the owners’ vision, she translated their personalities through her creative lens. “I associate my clients with fabrics and colors,” the designer muses. “This family loves simplicity and wanted a casualness, so they are denim, whitewash and crystal. I continued to go back to that combination—for what best represented them—and weaved it throughout the house.”
Her approach is first experienced in the great room, a 25-foot-tall space that contains the foyer and is lined with shiplap. “It’s somewhat arresting when you walk in because of the size,” Vogelgesang acknowledges, “but it still has this feeling of warmth.” To fill the immense area, the clients had a light fixture in mind. “I took a video of a gorgeous chandelier in the foyer of a home we toured up north,” the wife recalls. The husband demonstrated just how large: “He put out his arms and said, ‘Kelli, I want the chandelier to be the size of a small car,’” the designer laughs. Inspired by the wife’s video, she conceived a 6-foot-wide design to crown the foyer—then added a twin over the room’s sitting area.
Tapping into the wife’s love of white, Vogelgesang outfitted this gathering space with slipcovered linen sofas and armchairs, silk curtains and ivory tweed stools that mimic a Chanel jacket. One side of the area features a bar with an antique mirrored-tile backsplash that reflects the opposing wall’s double-sided fireplace, which also warms the billiard room. “The tile plays with vantage points and adds a level of luxe,” the designer explains.
From the “wow” factor bar, the layout smoothly transitions to the family room, home to a low-pile chenille sofa, an airy chandelier and a breakfast area with a cozy banquette. Studded with considerable windows, the sunny space contains doors that open to the pool grounds and expansive lanai, with Turkish marble flooring, earthy wicker dining chairs and grand sofas for alfresco napping.
To balance beauty with durability, Vogelgesang reached for no-fuss fabrics, such as wool carpets, seersucker lanai armchairs and an outdoor-grade textile on the breakfast nook chairs. “As pristine as it looks, it’s really family-friendly,” she observes. Scale also remained top of mind when it came to choosing rugs, art and, especially, lighting. “We were thoughtful about incorporating as many light fixtures as we could,” the designer says, “because they add warmth and style and are atmospheric.”
Settled into their forever home, the family takes advantage of every space. “It’s a house that’s filled with love and countless experiences—and is getting used to the max,” the wife says. Most of all, it reflects their dressed-down approach to luxury.
“This is my interpretation of them,” Vogelgesang says. “It’s clean, bright, fresh, young and comfortable.”