Memories of childhood trips to Florida initially attracted a retired Rhode Island couple to Juno Beach. But while searching the town for a second home, they knew they had come to the right area when they discovered an alluring empty lot across the street from the beach. Slated to be developed by general contractor Matthew Montgomery, the property had both the advantages of elevation and size, with enough space to accommodate the couple’s desire for a pool and other outdoor amenities. Then there were the architectural plans, by the late architect Richard Jones. Conceived in the time-honored Anglo-Caribbean style, the structure’s design was suitable for both its South Florida setting and its soon-to-be owners, whose love of traditional architecture was cultivated by their New England upbringing. Although the house had yet to be built, the couple wasted no time in buying it.
With the purchase settled, Montgomery introduced the new owners to interior designer Krista W. Alterman, a recommendation they appreciated almost immediately. “We knew 10 minutes after meeting with her that she was the right person for us,” the husband recalls. “We’re like-minded in our taste.” The three may have bonded over aesthetics, yet they also established a kinship born of their mutual Northeastern roots. “I grew up in Connecticut, and they hail from New England,” Alterman says. “When they first told me they wanted something classic and coastal with some contemporary elements, I immediately knew what they meant.” Instead of a typical Florida beach house, the couple desired an updated version of a traditional Northeastern coastal residence, one that looks as though it has been lived in for years. In the end, that is exactly what Alterman delivered.
Take the home’s custom millwork, for example, which includes not only the kind of elaborate ceiling molding and traditional shiplap one might find in historic Rhode Island houses but also some examples that are thoroughly modern. “My clients wanted to keep things current and fresh,” says Alterman, who gave some of the millwork contemporary flair by either using it in unexpected ways—such as the oven hood’s shiplap finish—or amplifying its size and design, like the geometric-patterned applied molding on one of the great room’s walls. Then there are the wide-plank wood floors that project a New England sensibility, but even these have been creatively enhanced: Made of oak planks fumed with airborne ammonia, which adds a rich patina, the floors give the impression the newly built house is much older than it really is. Even the lush grounds, designed by landscape architect Paul Catania, suggest maturity, despite having only recently been planted.
Although a Northeastern point-of-view might be at the heart of the residence’s interior design, other influences unfurled in a natural way. When her clients mentioned their love of country French architecture, Alterman recalled images from her honeymoon in Provence, where she explored villages and markets. “I was drawn to the warmth and rustic nature of these spaces that somehow were still elegant and very French,” she says. “My design was infused with memories of these travels.” Patterned tile flooring in the laundry room, a beaded chandelier in the main bedroom and antique accessories throughout lend a rustic- yet-sophisticated personality. Still, the interiors never feel dated thanks to Alterman’s adroit use of a crisp, classic blue-and-white color palette and modern-looking materials, such as the kitchen’s sleek quartzite countertops and cool-toned metals, like nickel pendants in each bathroom.
As carefully crafted as the home’s interior environment is, how it interacts with the outdoors proved equally important, especially given that the property’s amenities—including a pool, an outdoor kitchen and a putting green— would be used extensively. “This house is really a blend of indoor and outdoor spaces,” says Montgomery, whose home-building experience has taught him to treat both as an integrated whole. One wall of the great room is lined with infinity sliders, providing wide-open access to the outdoor living areas, while a pass-through window between the kitchen and the loggia fosters easy serving when entertaining outside.
In an area where “coastal” is an often-described design style, Alterman found a refreshing challenge in employing a cozy French Provençal perspective, noting its relation to traditional American design. “There is so much symmetry between the two,” she says. “Both styles are enlivened with the spirit of the handmade, giving you a sense of character.”