COASTAL, WITH FLAIR
A Tequesta home gets a fresh take on a northeastern flair with a light, bright, beautiful result.
By Linda Marx
Photographs by Lesley Unruh
The living/great room has glorious water views. The sofas, chairs and ottoman are from Kravet, tables are from Arteriors, fabrics by Duralee and console by Stanley Furniture. Fraydo, a Schnese (Havanese and Mini Schnauzer), loves to play here.
These shelves hold magical memories in a variety of shapes and sizes: apothecary jars, colorful temple jars, plates, hollowware and other treasures in shiny metal, gold and bronze mixed with pewter.
When Krista Watterworth was commissioned by an Italian family to design their new 8,000-square-foot home in Tequesta, she had to enlighten them on South Florida waterfront living. The designer didn’t feel several of their Old World design ideas would bring them the most pleasure in their new residence. “When I learned they were into colors like brown and gold, I explained that this project needed to become a coastal home with northeastern flair,” says Watterworth, known for her classic contemporary style focusing on simplicity, clean lines and unexpected use of color. “I wanted to respect their heritage but make it light and bright.”
Watterworth, who owns a design studio in Palm Beach County, met the couple through their children. “Our kids go to school together,” she says. “When we discussed their house, the wife said she wanted a home [that was] professionally designed, but that it shouldn’t look that way. She wanted an effortless ‘wow’ factor, which was not easy to do.”
The designer toured their newly constructed, two-story house, which has four bedrooms, seven baths (four full and three half) and a five-car garage, along with lots of extras like a movie theater, billiards room, kids’ playroom, summer kitchen, fire pit, swimming pool and dock. It’s located on the North Fork, Loxahatchee River, a beautiful waterway that leads to the ocean through the Jupiter Inlet. The interior design challenge was to move away from the idea the wife had in mind, which reached back to the couple’s heritage, but at the same time keep the northeast touches. This compromise would satisfy both client and designer. “I wanted a coastal-clean take on traditional style,” says Watterworth. “My job as a professional designer is to push the client’s comfort zone and change what they have done for years. I needed to stretch the imagination.”
“The wife is an amazing cook who likes to entertain and be part of the party. She wanted a large kitchen and surrounding area.”
The all-white kitchen is a favorite place for the wife, who enjoys cooking and entertaining friends. Cabinets are custom made and countertops are quartzite with the look of marble and the durability of granite.
So Watterworth set out to create a classic interior with contemporary elements for what was to be the family’s dream house. For the flooring throughout, she picked antique white from The Chateau Collection. This standout selection creates a time-worn look that showcases the character and longevity of hardwood. Around the house, doors and trim are done in white.
The foyer/entryway—where the steps upstairs are located—has many warm elements. Although the wife wanted dark wood there, the designer explained that neither dark nor heavy wood is an ideal choice for a coastal home. She suggested the space should be bright, open, warm and cozy with touches of the traditional northeastern feel. Once that was accomplished, it was easy to repeat throughout the house.
The living areas, with sweeping views of the pool, summer kitchen and back patio, are a perfect example. The great room walls are painted in a baby fawn color; the dining room and kitchen walls are white. While the dining room is separate, the great room and kitchen comprise one large area, giving the family a nice open space for entertaining and living. The great room features high ceilings and impressive millwork, with a white marble fireplace/wall that dominates the room. “The design of the fireplace wall was involved,” the designer says.
“We had to deal with high ceilings, and we needed the right scale. We worked on a few different designs for it.” The end result evokes a look of grandeur. A hodgepodge of accessories on white shelves adds subtle color and texture to the room. There is a collection of artistic pieces, including apothecary jars, colorful temple jars, plates, hollowware and other treasures in shiny metal, gold and bronze mixed with pewter. “The wife didn’t want a library look in the great room,” explains Watterworth. “She liked a conversation piece.”
The dreamy white kitchen has occasional wisps of color and rich, dark-finished wood chairs that contrast with the bright, light theme. Cabinets are custom, and countertops are quartzite with the look of marble and the durability of granite and two islands instead of one. “The kitchen is a beautiful room,” says Watterworth. “The wife is an amazing cook who likes to entertain and be part of the party. She wanted a large kitchen and surrounding area.”
The white dining room is separate and more contained. The wife wanted to keep this room as traditional and formal as possible to contrast with the contemporary design in the other spaces. Again, Watterworth understood her concerns and worked with her to make it magical. “She wanted a formal dining room, and it was my job to give it warmth,” says the designer. “We compromised with a turned-leg pedestal table, which is a bit more rustic and casual.” The table is handmade, and the dining chairs are upholstered with different fabrics on the front and back. The buffet is simple and blends with millwork in the room. The built-in mirror is also simple, yet elegant. The drapery is white silk taffeta pavilion-stripe with inserted pleats.
Watterworth also worked on the master bathroom. Designed with white marble and white tile, the room is serene and open. With the repetition of the clean modern look and white marble used for the fireplace, it follows the same theme. “This room has a clean, coastal feel with a traditional Shaker-style cabinet,” she says. “I took a classic material with a contemporary application to give the room a ‘wow’ factor.” The undermount soaking tub is well located for relaxing and gazing through the window, which the wife loves; her husband wanted a steam room with a shower next to it, which makes him happy.
In tandem, the couple also raved about the rest of their new home and how peaceful and warm it feels for them and their 13-year-old twins. “The layout is perfect for our family and there is not one room we do not use,” the wife says. “There is plenty of room for everyone to have personal space, but somehow it remains cozy and comfortable. Every day I wake up and can’t believe I live here.”
Watterworth said the wife liked being involved with the design process. But after their conversations, she was able to pull her away from the dated direction that would have been a mistake. With its cooler, contemporary touches added to the classic feel, the family can enjoy this house for years to come. “It is warm, traditional and sensible, yet feels fresh, open and clean,” says Watterworth. “To go through the trauma of building a dream home and dealing with the stress of designing it can be taxing. But the wife was so excited with how it all turned out that she cried with joy.”
The dining room is formal and traditional, and the scene of many fine dinner parties. Wainscoting and tone-on-tone wallpaper lend it warmth while keeping a contemporary look. The buffet is simple, yet elegant. The fabric covering the chair backs is from Cowtan & Tout; the fabric on the front of the chairs is from Colefax & Fowler.
The entryway/foyer leads upstairs and also into the first-floor living area. “This area is bright and open, yet warm and cozy,” says the designer. “I didn’t want anything too heavy for a fine coastal home.”
This room has a clean, coastal feel with a traditional Shaker-style cabinet. I took a classic material with a contemporary application to give the room a ‘wow’ factor.”
The serene yet bright master bath is designed with white marble and white tile and invites in a view of the lush green landscaping.