By Angela Caraway-Carlton
Photographs by Dan Forer
Decor focuses on light and water
When it comes to making an entrance, this sprawling home situated along Florida’s Treasure Coast sure knows how to make a memorable one. From the second you walk through the front door of the Mediterranean-style home, you’re greeted with jaw-dropping, unobstructed views of the open Intracoastal Waterway, where dolphin-spotting is a daily ritual and evening brings spectacular sunsets. It’s the type of view that incites an immediate “wow” from every guest who enters the home — and that’s just what the owners intended.
While the property’s covetable views of Stuart’s turquoise waters ultimately lured the Connecticut couple away from the chilly Northeast three years ago, the style of the palatial, 8,000-square-foot home didn’t exactly fit their personal taste. Sure, there’s beautiful architecture, including grand columns that anchor the main living room, but for the couple, it was all upstaged by the home’s dark wood and its walls adorned with deep shades of gold and red. “From the window treatments to the color, everything in the house felt so heavy and ornate. It took attention away from the water,” said Dianne Davant, owner and principal designer of Dianne Davant & Associates, who helped the couple completely transform their new home in 2015. “Our goal was to lighten and brighten, and ultimately give the home an updated, modern look. We wanted the water to be the focal point.”
Now there’s barely a trace of that weighty, Old World style. In its place is a light, dreamy backdrop that’s centered around the blue water that drew the couple there. Davant and designer Priscilla Hyatt replaced the home’s dark-colored walls with a neutral palate and accents of blues and greens, and they hung gauzy window treatments. They also revamped the home’s main entrance, the living room, deliberately positioning furniture to form a clear path to windows and doors that show off those picture-perfect vistas of the water. “The water just pops now. It’s the first thing that guests see when they enter the home,” said Davant. “The house feels open and easily brings the outside in.”
Even the couple’s spacious master bedroom, with the soothing color of sand on the walls and transitional furnishings and decor in various shades of blue, gray and silver, seems to float effortlessly into the surrounding water that you can see from the windows. The bedroom is fitted with a sparkling chandelier, and details like translucent candleholders and lamps add extra lightness to the once-heavy room. Since the bedroom is so expansive, Davant and Hyatt also created a sitting area with two inviting chairs, which offers another chance for the couple to lazily gaze out over the water. “We are very much into comfort,” Davant said. “Even though the house is large with high ceilings, we wanted it to feel cozy.”
A luxurious level of comfort is sprinkled throughout the home, with several nooks nestled in the living room, an upstairs landing and even a once-obscure area under the grand staircase. “This was a “nothing area,” it had no purpose,” Davant said of the large stairwell. “You do see it when you enter the home, so we turned it into a charming sitting area where the owners can entertain guests, have coffee or write a letter at the antique desk.”
One of the most relaxing places in the home is the family room, where the design strays from the lavish “beach house” feel you get in the rest of the house, and instead, offers layers of eclectic accents from a zebra-patterned rug to an iron cocktail table that resembles the sun. “There are so many different textures and patterns in this room. I like for things to look gathered and collected, so it creates an interesting space,” said Davant. The family room easily flows into the kitchen, where dark kitchen cabinets were also painted white, and a third-tier level of cabinets was added, to balance out the sky-high ceilings.
The owners, who love to entertain and are the ultimate hosts, had one big directive for the designers: “Plenty of spots to rest your feet, and plenty of places to put your drink or whatever you’re nibbling on.” Davant and her team ran with that idea throughout the home, especially in the main living area, where there are two sofas that face each other, each with their own ottomans and cocktail tables. “It was very important to make things very symmetrical in that area. We wanted it to be equally balanced on both sides,” she said. The result? An inviting place to gather, where guests can happily kick back with their feet up, their drink or food only an arms-length away, and they all feel included in what’s going on around them.
Ready to exhale
The couple’s most treasured spot is their backyard and pool, where they spend most of their time soaking up those water views that convinced them to uproot their lives from Connecticut totally and head south. White stone leads from the house to the outside, making it difficult to know where the inside stops and the outdoors begins, which is a good way to describe their Florida lifestyle now. Their mornings start with sipping coffee on the covered loggia that runs the length of the home; days are spent floating in the sunken pool, which offers ultimate privacy from curious boaters, and evenings end on the dock looking for dolphins and catching the last rays of a spectacular sunset. At the end of the day, this oasis in Stuart is their “place to exhale.” E