By: Deborah Liftig
The special joy of Christmas echoes what a life in Florida is all about.
Much like the emotions of the holiday season, when people contemplate retirement in the Sunshine State there is a shared sense of anticipation, energy and excitement. Will the house fit? Will we feel comfortable in our new surroundings? Will we like our new neighbors?
When architect Samuel Vasquez, and interior designers Barbara Clark Dodd and Wylie J. Silver contemplated Tiffany Homes new model, they were also concerned with “the fit.” How would they design a home and furnish it to make it functional for a part time resident-the early retiree-yet make it memorable all year long?
“We know the buyer for this home would generally use it one to three months during the year, which would probably entail spending the Christmas Holiday in residence,” explains Dodd, who with Silver is a principal of Bay Design, Inc. “We wanted it to say ‘Merry Christmas’ throughout the year.”
The Woodlake enclave of Bonita Bay, one of the Lee County’s most outstanding golf course communities, was chosen to showcase the post-modern architecture of the home. That style allowed Vasquez, president of Tiffany Homes of Southwest Florida, to emphasize the beauty of classic design elements without impeding the home’s function.
The post modern style would also help lesson the trauma of the transition from a Northern home to on in Florida, Vasquez reasoned. It was important to have a home that lives and feels like Florida, yet still reminds people of their roots.
Even the furnishings reflect the blend of classic and contemporary, but they also inject an eclectic mix of tropical elements. Set amidst original artwork and elegant accessories of the home, its furnishings create the perfect environment to the active, semiretired couple.
The Tiffany is ideal for entertaining, whether it be a poolside, in the media room or in the more formal areas of the house.
The split floor plan features a master suite and media room to the right of the living and dining rooms. To the left, there are two guest suites with private baths, the kitchen with a breakfast area, a utility room and a three-car garage which would handily accommodate a golf cart.
Vasquez, Dodd, and Silver concurred that 10-foot mahogany double doors for the front entry would be particularly welcoming any time of year. The doors create a grand feel to the entrance, which is further accentuated by the architect’s use of visual elements that bring the doors forward. He began at the driveway with two, 10-foot lampposts, continued with columns and a barrel arch leading to the door, and finished with the door itself.
Once the doors were in place, designers Dodd and Silver caused somewhat of a stir with their creative holiday appointments.
“We created quite a conversation piece when we put a large, split wreath, trimmed in gold ribbon on the doors. People walk up to the entry along the keystone promenade, flanked by a low wall on either side, and wonder what’s going to happen when they open the door. To their surprise, the wreath splits in the middle.”
To accentuate Vasquez’s design and enhance the sense of excitement already created by the exterior, the designers installed a motorized track to draw back sheer curtains covering the home’s 24-foot wall of windows overlooking the pool.
“Practically speaking, the curtains help to minimize the heat and glare so common with western exposure, without blocking the light and view. However, when you open the sheers, its like stage curtains opening. It is a wonderful effect,” says Dodd.
To continue with the sophisticated, yet relaxed look of the house, the designers chose large scale couches for the living room, covered them in a heavy natural canvas and positioned them in front of the fireplace. Pillows in a tropical leaf print fabric imported from Switzerland were used as accents.
A cocktail table in a carved, tobacco-wood finish was selected to provide Old World grandness and formality, with a “don’t touch” feel.
Not to forget the holiday theme of the house, a smorgasbord of desserts was set up on the custom-made buffet in the dining room. It would be easy to imagine the homeowner entertaining this way during a traditional Christmas or New Year’s celebration.
Perhaps the most dramatic tribute to the season revolves around the living room and entry. A hugs Christmas tree was decorated in gold tones and brass shells.
But the decorating didn’t stop at the 4,000 square feet of air-conditioned living space-ample consideration was also given to the lanai.
“We deliberately made the lanai part of the living room space. However, we selected finishes and fabrics keeping in mind they were for outdoor use. They had to be mildew resistant and withstand the elements,” says Silver.
To complete the outdoor living area, a pool house with a cabana bath and sauna as well as a Jenn-Air grill and wet bar were created.
Overlooking the lanai, the sunny eat-in kitchen comes alive with white wood cabinets with glass fronts and round, brass pulls, shining ceramic floor tiles and volume ceilings.
And Vasquez carved out a niche in the back of the living room fireplace where he added a kitchen desk with bookshelves. It is especially convenient for the menu planning or jotting down a shopping list.
The utility room gained another use as a potting room for the orchids. After all, the lady of the house might like the flower. Orchids were also used throughout the house to enhance its tropical feel and bring the natural beauty of the outdoors inside.
Not to leave the gentleman of the house out, the designers commissioned a custom plexiglass case for the golf and other miscellaneous trophies. Since Bonita Bay is renowned for its golf amenities, it seemed natural that one or both of the couple would enjoy the sport.
Taking in consideration the lifestyle of the Tiffany’s prospective residents, Dodd and Silver used the two guest bedrooms to underscore the meaning of the guest suites. They would be ideal for the children and grandchildren or friends visiting from the North. With that in mind, Vasquez designed each bedroom with its own bathroom.
“We’ve found that guests like to be reminded that they are visiting in Florida so we furnished the first bedroom with twin beds covered in tropical batik fabric,” says Dodd.
On the opposite side of the house, in an ingenious use of space, Vasquez designed a loft over the media room. The designers took advantage of the secluded area and created an in-home office complete with computer, since many semi-retired or retired residents still manage business affairs from home.
In the media room, Vasquez created an entertainment center and, for a bit of intrigue, he devised a secret room behind the media wall. The design for the entertainment center facilitated the creation of a hidden room. And it will provide a wealth of additional storage space for the eventual homeowners, whether they are seasonal or full time residents.
Samuel Vasquez has designed and constructed a home that is a contemporary classic. And Barbara Dodd and Wylie Silver have created an interior design that compliments to the architecture and extends Yuletide greetings at the same time.
It is a warm and memorable salutation. And the Tiffany is a package anyone would like to find under the holiday tree. Plus, it’s a perfect fit.
Tiffany Custom Plans
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