Jim and Veo Martin’s house in Chicago, by Veo’s description, “has a lot of beige.” Add to that monochrome the steely grays of the city’s famously frigid winters and it’s hardly surprising they wanted some punchier hues incorporated into their Naples, Florida, residence. Having previously lived in a condo there, the couple, who have five sons and four grandchildren, decided to build a new home to accommodate their growing family–and asked designer Andrew Howard to imbue it with spirit and a welcoming palette. “This house needed to feel approachable,” says Howard, “a happy place to go to when it’s freezing cold up north.”
While Howard was working on the interiors, residential designer John Cooney was designing an “Old Florida cottage” with porches, a standing-seam metal roof and board-and-batten siding–“all indicative of the Old Florida vernacular,” notes Cooney, who worked with architect Randall Stofft and project manager Liz Dovey on the plans. But because new houses don’t yet have a history of their own, Howard used color and pattern to weave a narrative for the Martins, who enjoy entertaining family and close friends in the home’s intimate spaces. “We were given a lot of freedom by the clients to create a new experience,” says Howard.
That experience begins at the front door, which looks straight through a family/dining area to the rear terrace and pool. To define the space, Howard framed the floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors with draperies in a graphic yellow-and-blue pattern. “I don’t use a ton of yellow, but it’s a happy color,” he says, adding that the motif’s small scale doesn’t overwhelm across dozens of yards of drapery, so it can carry the large area. Howard also went bold on vintage armchairs with what he calls his lead fabric, explaining, “Everything grows or is pared down from there.” In this case, an oversize floral pattern with bright yellow blooms cries out for attention. “I wanted the back of the chair to look interesting,” the designer says, because that’s what people see when they enter the house.
Equally as important was choosing the right mix of new, custom and vintage furnishings. “Nothing’s worse for me than having everything look like it came from a bamboo-vintage shop, or off the floor of a showroom,” he says. “I’m really big on woods not matching so it doesn’t look like a store-bought set. If you have something new, something old and something made, you’re good.” To Howard’s credit, it’s not always clear which is which in this home. The designer spotted a vintage sideboard for the dining area on 1stdibs, but someone got to it before him, so he had a replica made. He then asked decorative painter and fine artist Stephen Floyd to create a painting that incorporated the colors in the family and dining area. “While I do like to include the colors of the fabrics,” Howard notes, “I prefer to use hues that are unexpected so it looks like something we found and not something we commissioned.”
In the kitchen, the Martins opted for crisp white with blue accents, inspired by the Azul Calcite countertop they had chosen for their previous condo renovation and replicated here. They worked with Howard, general contractor Matt Knauf and kitchen-design firm AlliKriste to fill in the rest, with shiplap siding lining the walls and island, and custom-colored lantern pendants to complement a mosaic-tile backsplash. “The homeowners wanted a very clean-looking kitchen,” says Knauf. “The use of shiplap, along with whites and brighter accent colors, gives it a cottage-y feel.”
Because the Martins are empty nesters, they wanted open entertaining areas where family and guests could be together, with private, en suite retreats for kids and grandchildren upstairs and two master suites on the main floor for themselves and their friends. Howard washed pale tones throughout the Martins’ suite. “I like masters to feel more soothing and the colors to be more subdued,” he says. The blue-and-green floral draperies dictated the rest of the design: “Everywhere you look outside in Naples it’s super green and lush, so I thought we’d embrace that in this room.”
Upstairs in one of the guest rooms, however, Howard went all out, using a pattern play of pinks and blues. “Every house needs that one bedroom with a wild story,” he says. The space was put to use immediately, since the decorating was finalized one day before the Martins’ children and grandchildren arrived for the Thanksgiving holiday. “Having all the finishing touches go in so seamlessly in the last days was such a good way to finish the project,” Veo says, “and made it all worth it.”