Designer Kara Hebert and general contractor Michael Maxwell have collaborated on an extensive list of residential projects. But, naturally, the engaged couple’s most meaningful joint venture is their most personal: their new home in Jupiter, Florida.
The duo designed the house from the ground up, conceiving a traditional West Indies-style abode that is colorful, energetic, approachable and, most importantly, accommodating for their blended family of five children and two dogs. Accustomed to joining forces, Hebert and Maxwell have a strong sense of each other’s style preferences, which tend to align. “We have always had similar goals in mind when working on any project, and this one was not very different,” Hebert says. “Michael is the construction part with strong interests in millwork and carpentry, and I come in with my love for textiles, wallpaper and lighting.”
Before the shiplap ceiling beams and patterned draperies went up, however, the pair had to consider how to wisely utilize coverage of a tight lot. “We needed to look at this in a nontraditional way, and the relationship of the surrounding homes and the lot’s uniqueness made me think about having a courtyard,” architect Dennis Rainho says of his idea to center the structure around an outdoor area. “The courtyard, connected to all common living spaces, makes this work.” He surrounded the courtyard with French doors and tall windows rather than walls, granting visual access from places such as the entry hall and bringing in natural light—as well as views of plantings by landscape architect Steve Parker. “It feels like a gallery when you walk in,” Rainho says, “and that sets the mood for the entire house: special, cozy and inviting.”
Inside, living areas are grounded with a soothing palette of white walls and marble flooring as a cohesive backdrop for the couple’s love of tropical colors, particularly blues and greens. The hues appear throughout in patterns and prints on furnishings and decor, starting with aqua draperies in the entry hall, where personal touches are also on full display. Hebert organized a gallery wall of family photos—which she calls their “memory station”—and hung a Gray Malin print of their favorite beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, where the couple frequently escapes to.
The hall leads to the family area, connected to the combined dining space and white Shaker-style kitchen, which displays the designer’s heirloom dishware on open shelving. Pale blue backsplash tile, rattan dining chairs, a white-washed table and a navy runner evoke the beachy vibe the couple appreciates. “Most decisions were pretty easy for us, as Michael and I both like happy colors and simple design,” Hebert says.
Amid the style selections, the couple took steps to maximize every inch of the floor plan. For instance, as sleeping arrangements for the three daughters, Hebert relocated windows and doors in a bedroom to accommodate two sets of chic, white bunk beds with Chippendale railings. Pink and orange ikat draperies add a whimsical feminine look that complements the lavender grass-cloth wallpaper of the adjoining bathroom. The den, meanwhile, acts as a fourth bedroom, with a blue-striped queen sleeper sofa near a coral armchair. There, Hebert payed homage to Maxwell’s former career as a professional skateboarder by mounting a custom wood rack of his boards, displaying the colorful collection like artwork. “I love incorporating a variety of art into clients’ homes, using a mix of abstract pieces, photography, even china,” she says. “It creates a sense of history and meaning. Skateboarding is a big part of Michael’s story, so we included that here.”
Not every aspect of the project came without a difference of opinion, however. Hebert, for one, insisted on installing a pool, even a modestly sized one. To get Maxwell on board, she taped out the shape of the feature multiple times in the courtyard to find the right spot for the plunge pool and waterfall wall. “Quite honestly, it’s such a great focal point,” the general contractor concedes.
As for his part, Maxwell envisioned the master quarters as a hotel suite, with an open-space bedroom and bathroom—no door separation, a compromise for Hebert. The aqua-hued bedroom seamlessly transitions from seagrass flooring to marble in the bathroom, which shares matching draperies near a freestanding tub.
In the end, the couple blended not just their family but also their lifestyle vision, with a perfect mixture of warmth, comfort and memories—an achievement Maxwell credits Hebert for making their house a true home. “Kara makes everyone she works with happy,” he says. “Every house she has done is like walking into a big hug.”