For the tasteful, retired entrepreneur with a passion for architecture and gardening, the estate at the edge of Robert’s Bay on Marco Island had magnetic appeal. He discovered the property in the late 1990’s and fell in love with the three acres of lush tropical gardens and the wide expanse of direct pristine water front. The home’s grand salon, with its barrel vaulted ceiling, hand painted by Italian artisans, was the tipping point.
“I was enchanted,” says the owner. “It had the wow factor I was looking for. I absolutely loved it. It was perfect for entertaining on a grand scale or for simply relaxing in a beautiful, serene location.”
Since purchasing the property, the owner has undertaken two major renovations and additions designed to maintain the estate’s old world charm while bringing modern amenities into play. Today, Greystone Manor is a 20,000-square-foot home complete with a tennis court, yacht-sized dock, secluded pool and spa, and separate staff quarters.
A vaulted porte cochere and magnificent wrought iron chandelier designed by the owner provide a fitting welcome for guests and set the tone for what awaits inside. Just over the threshold is the grand salon, a spectacular 52-by-52-square-foot space with a 25-foot barrel vaulted ceiling hand-painted in the style of the Renaissance. The original owner brought craftsmen from Italy to create the classic fresco, which took 2 years to complete. Using their skilled techniques and jewel-toned colors, the artists painted flowers, cherubim and filigreed boughs, as well as inserts of various saints. The end result is reminiscent of the ceilings in many European churches.
Ten marble columns with Corinthian capitals give definition to the salon’s voluminous space and anchor the lofty ceiling. A Roma Crema marble floor with an antique finish complements the pale walls and creates a seamless backdrop for the room’s impressive art and furnishings.
The large and ornate grand salon presented a challenge to interior designer Maria Coords who wanted to ensure the space was as usable as it was beautiful. To keep the salon versatile for entertaining, multiple seating areas were created using European antiques and with an elegant, pleated treatment in a solid complementary color,” she explains. “It provides a regal effect that frames the view rather than distracting from it.”
The master suite occupies its own wing separate from the rest of the home. During the most recent renovation, the master bedroom ceiling was changed from a v-shaped vault to a barrel shape echoing the grand salon. Contractor George Shaffer of Sandpiper Construction built the ceiling, which required careful calculations.
“Building a vault on this scale is serious business because it has to be strong enough to carry the weight,” says Shaffer. “But, in this case, it really makes the room.”
Shaffer’s team was also responsible for the very elaborate, multi-segmented trim which took months to install. From there, artisans aged and glazed the molding and medallions found in the master and throughout the entire home.
For designer Coords, the master wing is a refuge for privacy and renewal. “I feel the master bedroom and bath should convey calmness,” comments Coords. “Serenity is what the master suite is all about.”
The suite is designed to meet every need. An ample master bedroom with a seating area, and his and hers bathrooms, is adjoined by a private morning room with a wet bar and a cherry paneled study accessed by a secret door. The soft muted color scheme and rich mix of textures convey a relaxed sophistication. Layers of cream, beige, and white are found in the lush custom carpeting, fine linens imported from Italy, and silk pillows. An imported silk jacquard in a soft burnished gold was used on the wide arched window overlooking the garden and the bay. The glass table and bedside lamps found in a Palm Beach antiques store provide a contrasting metallic accent.
Polished Crema Marfil marble covers the floors and the walls of the sumptuous master bath, which is crowned by a domed ceiling and a Fine Arts chandelier with crystal fins. The soaking tub surround is a handmade marble mosaic in cream and brown, a motif that is repeated in the shower. According to tile designer Robert Sorhegui, “The quality of the materials and the workmanship in the bath and throughout the home are exactly what you would expect of an old-world mansion.” Sorhegui’s exquisite mosaic designs on the tub and in the spacious shower stall complement the floral design on the bathroom’s stained-glass windows.
“Old-world styling on the edge of Tuscan” describes the kitchen designed by Jamie Lawrence of Elite Cabinetry. Creamy latte cabinetry and a silver travertine marble floor laid out in a herringbone pattern are the dominant elements in a room that also features luxurious millwork. Carved corbels and furniture legs, beaded casings, and decorative molding carry the opulence of the main rooms into this cozy and highly appealing space. The bridge over the stove gives the appearance of an old-world cooking area. A cove ceiling is adorned by a pair of nine globed chandeliers that flank a unique T-shaped island and custom shelving. An adjacent apartment for live-in staff is accessed by a staircase from the kitchen.
“The overall effect in the kitchen is rich,” says Lawrence, “but it is also a very functional, warm, and inviting space.”
Throughout the home, custom floral pieces and ornamental interior plantings add a final polishing touch. Floral designer Saundra Riccardelli of Sweetgrass Designs consulted with Coords as she developed the design.
“After speaking with Maria, I decided to pick up the earthy, European, rusty red and gold tones and take them up to a slightly brighter note in flowers,” explains Riccardelli. “It was a delight to be able to use so many stately European vases and urns in a variety of heights to give us the scale we needed.”
The grounds of Greystone Manor are every bit as spectacular as the home. Among the mature plantings, there are thirty kinds of palm trees, six varieties of bamboo, a large selection of bromeliads, a rose garden, a koi pond, a vegetable and herb garden, and a fruit tree orchard. The plantings have been thoughtfully refined year after year so that wandering through the property provides an amazing sensory experience of sunlit gardens, shaded hideaways, and the sparkling play of sunlight on the water.
Being situated on the water is integral to Greystone Manor’s charm, but it is only one part of its appeal. It is the totality of what the residence has to offer that makes this a true manor home. Both the large spaces for entertaining and the private places for relaxing are designed for maximum effect and enjoyment. The gardens and the recreational opportunities are vast and varied. Greystone Manor’s connection to classic standards of beauty and old-world elegance is strong and reassuring. It is a place to truly enjoy living on a grand scale.