You would be forgiven if you expected to see John Wayne step out of the front door of this home, six-shooter blazing, and a herd of cattle stampeded by the sound. That is exactly the effect the owners were aiming for when they engaged Jon and Vicki Moore, architect and design project manager and partners, to create a modern-day hacienda (with an early 19th century feel) for their 3,000-acre working cattle ranch in Manatee County.
The Moores brought their theatrical talents—honed by years of working on Disney projects—to this project, which is part private home and part corporate retreat for entertaining international clients.
“This is exactly the type of project we like to do, where we can use all of our creativity and many of the theatrical techniques we’ve learned through our careers of designing corporate headquarters and hotels,” says Jon, the architect of the team. “It was a hospitality project that can accommodate 200 guests for dinner, yet is also an intimate and welcoming space for the owners and their extended family.”
According to Jon, all of the Moores’ projects incorporate some form of theme that becomes the basis of the design intent.
When the owners said they would like it to look like a Western movie set, based on haciendas they had seen in Mexico, we knew this was right up our alley,” adds Vicki, the design project manager. “The clients were remarkable and delightful, very down-to-earth, and that made the project very enjoyable for us.”
Camlin Custom Homes builder Ken Keating and his daughter, project manager Caitlin Keating, agree. “We knew the owners as they had bought a house in our premier development, The Inlets, before they built the ranch, and we came to be friends, so it was delightful to help them bring their dream of a cattle ranch to reality,” says Ken. That meant Ken and Caitlin were on-site seven days a week for 13 months during construction and became well acquainted with other ranch residents including five horses, a pair of buffalo, 350 head of Angus, Brahman and Longhorn cattle, two donkeys, and innumerable uninvited turkeys and foxes.
“It was important to carry out the creative vision of the owners and we met with the Moores twice a week to ensure everything was on track and being done to the very highest quality,” recalls Caitlin. “But, despite the hard work, it was also the most fun we’ve ever had on a project.”
This home has six bedrooms, six full and two half-baths in the main house— including 3 hotel-size guest suites with private kitchens and living rooms—and three floors—the top one called the “Eagle’s Nest,” designed specifically for star-gazing. The 17,000-square-foot home has 11,000 square feet under air and occupies two miles of prime riverfront real estate in Manatee County. Tremron pavers form the drive and entry plaza. Individually selected Tennessee Crab Orchard flagstones flank the stone walls from Old Castle Coastal, built over a 12-month period by an expert stonemason who also created the medallion highlighting the ranch’s signature brand. Thick hand-troweled stucco walls and red Mexican roof tiles add to the hacienda’s authenticity.
Up-lit arches lined with tumbled bricks are used in this hallway that leads from the master bedroom to the stained and distressed white oak door of the elevator. The flooring throughout the main floor is Acacia, an African hardwood, here accented by the same ranch logo as in the entry plaza, hand-inlaid in contrasting wood. Custom wall sconces by Two Hills Studios of Austin, Texas make use of a Mexican-style perforated metal technique.
Beneath 40-foot, up-lit oak beams, banded in studded metal, the inviting great room space holds sturdy furnishings that can take the family’s roughhousing and the occasional spur left on a boot heel. Holding pride-of-place is the flagstone fireplace from Old Castle Coastal. The mantel is a solid piece of timber salvaged from a Connecticut mill, circa 1800. A custom credenza holds the owners’ leather bound library of western novelist Louis L’Amour. Textured cotton sofas and leather ottomans mix with the owner’s antiques, atop a custom cut wool rug by Milliken. Overhead a windmill fan made of aircraft aluminum circulates the air. A unique 26-foot wide glass wall allows unsurpassed views of the river.
The owners’ own leather banquette and Canadel chairs complement the island’s barstools and provide seating for eight at the farmhouse table in the dining room. Lighting the scene are the candelabra bulbs of the wood and iron wagon wheel chandelier by Two Hill Studios. The windmill fans replicate those in the great room.
A center island spanning 21 feet is topped with a piece of granite which the owner and designer chose because of patterns within it that resembled herds of cattle, Native American teepees, and other Western images. Knotty alder cabinets flank a galvanized steel and banded iron range hood. Appliances are from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. The backsplash is stacked slate tiles, and pendants are of oxidized metal. Dualtoned wooden stools match those in the adjacent dining room.
A tongue-and-groove cypress ceiling overlooks the granite-topped hand-scraped hickory bar in the second floor game room. A custom mural by artist Ron Burma depicts a cattle drive, and Four Hands leather clad stools complement the owner’s own chairs and poker table, resting on wide planked manufactured flooring. The arched doorway leads to a climate-controlled wine room and a cigar humidor. Bonko beds fold out of the cabinet for a bunkhouse feel and the stairs lead to the Eagle’s Nest.
An up-lit valance bands the 14-foot tongue-and-groove cathedral ceiling of the master bedroom. Arched glass doors echoing the shape of the custom oak entry doors, lead to a semi-private courtyard and offer fantastic river views. The bed and banded tone-on-tone leather headboard were custom built, as were the nightstands and one-drawer end table next to the owner’s own chaise. The unique ceiling fan has blades that rotate inside of the light housing.
In the master bath, one’s eye is drawn to the shower’s backlit golden onyx wall, resembling a map of the property. Porcelain tiles line the rest of the shower and bathroom floor. Hand-laid brick archways accent the double granite-topped vanities and the simple linen storage. House of Antique Hardware fixtures bring simple elegance; adler ceiling beams add interest.
The show-stopping pool and spa is wrapped in Tennessee Crab Orchard flagstone, flanked by an arched gallery, lit by Two Hill Studios metal scones and roofed by a vaulted screen. Canales—traditional Southwestern downspouts—shoot water into the pool while a custom-built water tower with an attached slide offers fun for adults and kids alike. An outdoor kitchen with a galvanized backsplash and cabinetry incorporates Wolf appliances. Seating for 12 is available at the granite-topped table.
Perfect for star-gazing, due to the lack of light pollution at the home’s rural locale, the 3rd floor Eagle’s Nest also includes a Native American kiva fireplace. The second story lanai is oriented to catch the spectacular sunsets. The ground floor great room opens to steps leading down the terraced lawn to the amphitheater’s fire pit and beyond to the sea wall built along the river.
Written by Kitt Walsh
Photography by Detlev von Kessel
Camlin Custom Homes
3890 East State Road 64, Suite 101
Bradenton, FL 34208
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
2451 17th Street
Sarasota, FL 34234
Old Castle Coastal
2200 12th Street
Sarasota, FL 34237