The English writer, G.K. Chesteron mused, “White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black.” To the uninitiated, white is an intimidating design element. A talented team of architects and designers capitalized on a white palette in this masterful interpretation of contemporary waterfront living here in Southwest Florida. The result — fresh, tropical panache in an inviting relaxed home.
Designed by Jon Kukk, AIA, of Kukk Architecture & Design, P.A., the home’s unembellished façade, metal roof, and Bahamian-style shutters instantly conveys a sense of the tropics, while the large windows free of mullions and trim make a contemporary statement. The recessed entryway, portico, and flanking wings encircle visitors and suggest a warm reception beyond the simple exterior. “The interior and exterior of the home are well integrated,” explains Kukk. “The elements are the same. Clean lines, large windows, and a wide-open feel carry the tropical contemporary look inside and out.”
“When we first walked into the house, it was simply stunning,” says interior designer, Susan Bay of Bay Design Store in Naples who provided all the space planning, furnishings, art, and accessories. “It is so full of light and has a wonderful sense of architectural integrity. Our job was to enhance the feeling of natural beauty with a neutral palette and relaxed, coastal elements. It is a brilliant, minimalist canvas against which natural elements can shine. The white itself is almost an architectural element.”
The entire home is washed with light, which interior designer Kristina Gulliford, of Kristina Gulliford Interiors, who developed all the interior architectural design and finishes throughout the house, strategically put to great effect with an eclectic mix of materials. Whitewashed French oak floors ground the room and add a slightly rustic, beachy feeling. Contrasting with the floor’s soft patina and worn color is the craggy, white quartz fireplace that reflects the light in intriguing ways. Simple popped ceilings throughout keep the look streamlined and quietly contribute to a luxurious sense of space. “The clean lines of the room allow the natural materials and furnishings to stand out, like crisp pieces of art in a museum,” observes Gulliford.
Prior to the sale of this ‘spec’ home, Bay came on board to furnish and finish the main living areas and master suite. The two distinct seating areas, one for dining and one for relaxing, share unifying furniture accents in wood, fabrics in shades of gray, and decorative teal pottery. Mirrored shelving reflects and bounces light throughout the room. A trio of drum lights with white linen shades stretch across the great room providing a sense of balance and proportion to the wide-open space.
Splashes of sky blue and island turquoise imbue the sitting room with a bright and relaxed feeling, without being overly fussy. Creamy sofas add warmth and a clever juxtaposition against the white walls. Framed prints of coral and marine life play a role in the tropical feel, as does the sisal rug trimmed in royal blue. “We made sure that the seating was versatile and plentiful, to allow every guest to enjoy the long water view,” comments Bay.
White continues to dominate in the kitchen with gray accents and a surprisingly sophisticated mix of materials to keep it modern. The sleek cabinetry was made of wood handcrafted from maple and then painted for a higher quality finish and warmer effect. “It takes great finesse to achieve a look that is both contemporary and inviting,” shares Chris Hylemon of Hyland Custom Cabinetry, A Thomas Riley Company. “The kitchen is modern, not trendy, and has superb functionality,” explains Hylemon. The countertops are quartz and the tile backsplash is a pearly, gray glass reminiscent of the inside of a seashell.
The library is an intimate space for quiet conversation and reading. Splashes of turquoise and a sunburst mirror enliven the walls, while the ladylike, curved legs of the writing table stand out against the knotty-wood garden seat, used here as an occasional table.
The master bedroom is a restful oasis with a king bed that almost floats against a backdrop of lush greenery. Simple linens, minimal color, and a few carefully selected accessories keep the attention on the calming water view outside. The headboard and reading chair are covered in a beachy, gray-beige with driftwood overtones. Over the bed, a collection of mirrors framed in silvery oyster shells harmonizes with the satin nickel frame of the drum pendant lighting and side table. The dark wood of the nightstands and the bed frame offer a grounding contrast to the soft, coastal color scheme.
The master bath continues with a mix of classic and artisanal materials. A white Carrara marble shower and freestanding soaking tub share the space with handcrafted cabinets of ceruse-finished white oak. “In order to achieve the ceruse finish, the rift-cut oak was first dyed grey before going through a series of glazes and grain fills,” adds Hylemon. The cabinets use the grain horizontally, and the doors are edged in a stainless band. “The almost striped look of the wood is highly refined and, at the same time, very natural looking,” comments Gulliford. “It blends wonderfully with the traditional, classic, and clean lines of the marble and the glass.”
At the rear of the home, Kukk and builder Thad Gulliford worked within the challenging parameters of a pie-shaped lot to create a spectacular outdoor living area and full summer kitchen. With large windows looking into the interior of the home, the white palette extends easily and naturally to the outdoors. It is a gracious and generous extension of the home’s open floor plan and enhances the delight of living in a contemporary, tropical home.
Written by Sarah Adams
Kukk Architecture & Design
1300 3rd Street S., Suite 203E
Naples, FL 34102
Bay Design Store
326 13th Avenue South
Naples, Florida 34102
Hyland Custom Cabinetry
A Thomas Riley Company
1458 Rail Head Boulevard
Naples, Florida 34110