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Home Tour : Pursuit of Elegance

Nestled along the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, a vacation home sits elegantly on the waterfront. Panoramic views of the water, fresh Gulf breezes, and the warm Florida sunshine create the perfect backdrop for a relaxing oasis. Designing this home away from home would become the dream project of Architects Randall Stofft and John Cooney of Stofft Cooney Architects. “The clients had only two basic requirements: enough bedrooms to facilitate their growing family and a professional range from France to cook for them all,” shares Cooney. This rare and creative latitude allowed Cooney the ultimate freedom to reinvent the modern-day beach house.

In his design, Cooney set out to deliver the best of both worlds — a classic, old Florida-style home equipped with all the state-of-the-art modern amenities — all the while, capitalizing on breathtaking views of the water from every room possible. This particular parcel of land would present the ultimate challenge for Cooney.  Builder Randy Kurtz of Kurtz Homes explains, “The house sits on a deep but narrow site, which caused some unique architectural constraints.” Indeed, designing a 10,000-square-foot residence under those circumstances was an ambitious undertaking.  Cooney found his solution in an innovative, linear design floor plan, which allowed for multiple window opportunities and a mass of natural light.

Building a home of distinction, such as this, involves a team effort between the owners, the architects, and the other design professionals involved in its creation. Sharon Gilkey of Montanna & Associates provided the interior design and complimented the architectural details with her design expertise. Sensitive to the couple’s needs, Gilkey was keen to create a ‘cook’s kitchen’. Since both husband and wife are passionate about cooking, one of the few requirements they had for the home was the addition of a La Cornue French range in the kitchen.  The kitchen’s stately presence adds distinction, while large windows, white cabinetry, and ocean views combine to create a relaxing atmosphere.

The spacious formal dining room will accommodate the client’s growing family for lavish gatherings while on vacation together. Lighted cabinetry on the back wall, a soft-blue, hand-painted Asian fabric wall covering, and an elaborate jewel-toned glass chandelier — the focal point of the room — ensure formal dinner parties have a sophisticated ambiance. Asian sculptures and custom sideboards all elevate the dining experience from the ordinary to the spectacular. The wall coverings are delicately hand-painted and then padded for a sumptuous elegant feel.

Constructed to support carefree living, the home is open and airy. The exterior boasts a unique tabby finish. Tabby is a stucco product with shell embedded in the cement. The material has a timeless character and allows for low maintenance. Not often seen today, tabby was used extensively in coastal districts of Europe in the early nineteenth century. “We’ve done it before; it is a unique finish,” says Kurtz. He follows their projects past completion, with a special homeowners’ program offering a concierge service to maintain their client’s homes long after the move-in date. “We don’t just build a home and leave; we build a home and stay,” says Kurtz.

The main living areas are in the western portion of the home and each of these rooms is alive with captivating Gulf and sunset views. Light and bright, the floor plan has an uncluttered footprint with glass on three sides — by the stairs, on the beach side, and by the kitchen — fulfilling Cooney’s vision of incorporating sweeping vistas of the Gulf of Mexico from almost every room.

A cheerful light infuses the family room, which offers the perfect open space for indulging in a little entertainment. However, the sight of dolphins frolicking just outside the wall of windows may prove to be stiff competition for any feature film being shown in the room’s big screen television.

In the age of laptops and iPads, the traditional study has been transformed into the casual club room. Two sets of French doors brighten the space and add a pleasing symmetry. The result is an updated area that inspires peace-of-mind, clarity, and reflection.

The master bedroom retreat and sitting area maximize the phenomenal views of the Gulf of Mexico. Floor-to-ceiling windows and the lure of an open veranda invite its occupants ever closer to the water; the simple and pristine atmosphere invite complete surrender to the tranquil surroundings.

Each architectural element of the master bath is designed to delight the senses. The deep porcelain-soaking tub centered under a large window overlooking the water creates the ideal setting in which to immerse oneself into the water that so prominently defines the landscape.

Truly enjoying the attributes of Southwest Florida demands the creation of spectacular outdoor living areas — and this home delivers. The house contains two separate pools; one is located on the upper deck and one on the lower practically spilling out to the beach. The upper spa and pool is surrounded by an elegant outdoor living room, complete with a summer kitchen. This functional use of space, both indoor and outdoor, enables multifaceted enjoyment of the home.

Along with the pursuit of elegance, the design team melded their talents to create excellence as well. The opportunity to design a home of this caliber is something that Cooney will never take for granted, “I always feel very fortunate that clients trust me to design their dream home,” he says. Indeed, with this project, Cooney, Kurtz, and Gilkey—a dream team, if you will–have created a Gulf-side retreat that imparts the coveted gifts of calm and relaxation to all who enter its doors.

Written by Marci Wise

Photography by Lori Hamilton

Stofft Cooney Architects

633 Ninth Street North

Naples, Florida 34102


Kurtz Homes

1055 Crosspointe Dr.

Naples, Florida 34110


Montanna & Associates

628 Ellen Drive

Winter Park, Florida 32789


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