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Contemporary Pioneer

With plans in hand, Kip Braun of Braun Builders began a 18-month project that would bring one of the few contemporary-style residences to Marco Island. A departure from the Key West cottages and Mediterranean villas, the goal was to incorporate the building’s linear architecture into the visual ambience of the island.

The homeowners, who relocated from Michigan, enjoy boating and bought a waterfront house on Marco Island. It didn’t take long for them to acclimate to Florida’s year-round boating weather and settle into their island oasis. Then, the vacant lot next door became available and their imaginations soared. Braun, the architect, and the husband and wife homeowners would form a team to create what the wife calls, “a unique contemporary home, one that would be a haven for family,” and one that blurs the boundaries between inside and out.

While the wife would become the effective decorator and the husband an organized project manager, the architect, Robert Diericks AIA, would create a half dozen plans offering views, volume, plenty of balconies, dramatic water elements, and a structural integrity that allows the home to withstand the fiercest winds.

Building between the Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Braun would have to meet stringent regulations. He began by digging 90 pilings 28 feet down into shell substrate. “The home is all poured concrete,” Braun says. Even the flat roofs are made of it. And yet the feeling is nothing if not airy. A nearly 30-foot beam stretches across the living area providing a walkway enjoining the upstairs bedroom wings.

Another carefully engineered and built feature is the “disappearing corner” in the family room. Abutting sliding glass doors can be opened to effectively remove a wall, even while the ceiling above is solid concrete. “Having the owners so very involved was a wonderful bonus,” says Braun, and this feeling is echoed by Diericks.

“I had done four or five sketches of the front elevation,” says Diericks. “Then the owner came up with a suggestion of using rough concrete panels. It worked beautifully.” Having clients participate in the entire process prevents “surprises” down the road. It also allowed for a seamless integration of the owner’s ideas for décor. From the sleek linear and cubic forms to the monochromatic palette, it seems as if both the furnishings and the home’s dramatic structure have emanated from the same source. That, says Diericks and Braun, is exactly what their goal was for this home.

This stunning contemporary residence marks a true departure from the Marco Island norm. “We love having people stop and look at our home,” says the wife. “It’s exactly what we’d hoped for.”

Best known for its coastal and Mediterranean architecture, geometry of the 21st century is rarely seen on Marco Island. Here, a dazzling water element spills into a pool, and a cleverly designed parking area resembles a modern piazza. The cubic lines of this contemporary residence boast walls of windows and balconies — there is even one tucked above the garage — stretching across the back toward the river to take full advantage of the incredible views.

With panoramic views from the front door straight through to the wall of glass beyond, the owners specified as few obstructions as possible. Like an artist’s creation, the 30-by-60-inch gray porcelain tiles climb the staircase wall beside the sleek catwalk designed by Braun and the architect to connect the second story wings of the home.

The owner’s contributions to the décor and design were vital, say Braun and Diericks. She wanted a “timeless” home — one in which accessories could be interchangeable. “I chose grays and white and relied on a variety of textures for interest and definition,” she says. From the 12-foot chandelier in the foyer, to each of the furnishings, the home bears her imprint.

The homeowners are wine connoisseurs who enjoy their wine at a colder temperature than the norm. A pragmatic solution for a perfect savor was arrived at by ducting the regular air into the small glass space, thereby dropping the temperature to exactly the right drinking coolness. The family room slider can be opened completely without a corner support — another unique building feature accentuating unobstructed views of the water.

Braun explains that most of the rooms have “floated ceilings,” which allows for space definition and precise illumination. In the kitchen, pendant-style lanterns hang delicately above a SapienStone island and modern seating. Another owner-selected choice: the glass barn-door covering for the shelving. The backsplash behind the stove and hood is striated marble, which harmonizes its almost bespoke patterning to the palette of the house.

The master bedroom is a haven with a view of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Three large windows and triple sliders to the lanai create a blurred boundary with nature. Cleverly hidden roller shades provide privacy when needed.

The bathroom is designed for two people who appreciate their own space. Long cabinets and marble counters that provide plenty of storage seem to stretch for miles. The shower — designed to be its own room — is complete with an expansive marble bench, which demonstrates the beauty of the stone’s grain when wet.

The homeowners knew family and friends who visit may want periods of privacy, so the architect created a niche between two guest rooms for relaxing between activities. The homeowner furnished the alcove with a white leather sectional and completed the space with a refrigerator, washer, and dryer exclusively for guests.

Braun Builders was able to build this home close to the waterway, blurring the natural and the man-made worlds. An outdoor kitchen is at the service of relaxing guests on the lanai. Overhead, wide balconies encourage optimal outdoor time for guests or provide relaxing views for the exerciser who overlooks the Collier Bay.

The L-shaped infinity-edge pool spills over and appears to be one with the waterway. The owner selected tile in a concrete finish for the pool deck and the lanai and a weather-resistant cypress ceiling introduces warmth to the otherwise cool-toned space.

Written by Marina Brown

Photography by Blaine Johnathan

Luxury Home Builder

Braun Builders

225 Rockhill Court

Marco Island, FL 34145



Design Studio by Raymond

990 1st Avenue North

Naples, FL 34102



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