Global Influences Enrich This Florida Home With Tropical Flair
Escaping the lingering chill of early spring couldn't be easier for this couple. They bask in the glow of exotic locales—the Caribbean, Morocco, Brazil—all without leaving their second home, a newly built getaway in Hobe Sound, Florida.
"The husband is a real architecture buff," New Haven, Connecticut, architect Sam Mitchell says. "I've worked with him and his wife many times. For this home, we started with an Anglo-Caribbean idea that brought in other island and coastal influences." Mitchell honored the Anglo-Caribbean building traditions of St. Augustine, Florida, with a striking hybrid design that features both stucco and wood siding on the exterior.
It nods to the construction favored by British colonists who built wooden additions on top of simple Spanish masonry structures after their country wrested control of the region from Spain just before the American Revolution.
Main living areas are located on the upper level, where expansive windows, French doors, and a balcony provide enviable views.
The captivating style fusion continues inside, where Mitchell launched the interior architecture in the great room with a fireplace seemingly pulled from old Marrakech. A Moorish arch on the surround frames a sea of blue-green tile that the architect created specifically for this home. The handcrafted tiles complement the texture of warm pecky cypress on a soaring ceiling that expresses the arch idea in a Palm Beach vernacular. Draperies in a pretty sea-glass-tone fabric from Romo in the living area echo the hues of shimmering tile on the fireplace surround.
"The fireplace was the spark for our design," Ashley Waddell says. She and her sister, Courtney Harris, partners in Olivia O'Bryan design, played off the exotic theme in their choices for furnishings and accent pieces.
"We wanted to create rooms that feel tropical, whimsical, and collected," Harris says, "with soft, fresh colors that are soothing and spa-like—appropriate for a getaway home."
They established the mood in the foyer, a breezeway-esque space with wood doors, a plank-and-beam ceiling, and an unglazed tile floor. "We chose light fixtures that tie into the home's Moorish feel," Waddell says. "And we found an amazing old window that we hung above the console table. We mirrored the back of it to give it even more effect." Wood elements, including a vintage bench and console table, jibe with natural-wood doors in an organic-minded space that connects the front and rear of the house to the outdoors.
In the living room, the designers used a wash treatment on the pecky cypress ceiling, calling on its warm tones to contrast white walls and light furnishings. Sheer draperies in a seaglass hue softly filter the Florida sun.
Calm sea-glass color repeats on cabinetry in the kitchen, where Mitchell framed the range niche with gray-veined white marble. Its smooth, elegant texture plays foil to woven shades on an oversize pendant light and organic notes from a wood dining table, nubby carpet, and light natural-wood floors. "You walk in and feel relaxed," Waddell says.
Pendant lights from Urban Electric inject a bit of industrial flair over the island and juxtapose a woven shade on a Currey & Co. fixture in the living area.
Shelves built into a marble range surround offer a handy perch for cooking oils and seasonings. A second sink tucks into a niche alongside the refrigerator, which is positioned to block views of the cleanup zone from the main gathering area in the open-plan home.
The serene mood deepens in the master suite, where the designers drew on shades of neutrals to create an island of calm. "We wanted to give the homeowners a break from color," Harris says. "It's a completely soothing space." The dark frame of an airy canopy bed adds graphic lines to a serene retreat.
Texture, however, ensures that the sanctuary never reads as snoozy. In the master bath, for example, river stone lines the shower floor, and walls are coated in artisanal stucco. "There's no tile," Waddell says. "The bath has almost a Greek isle feel." A freestanding tub introduces a sculptural element to the dreamy bath space.
Each guest bedroom also is an exclusive destination. Pecky cypress ceilings are laid in different patterns. Colors swell like the rising tide: blue in one space, green in the other. "The clients wanted a whimsical vibe in their home," Harris says. "Every room has its own personality."
Blue notes and a bolster pillow encased in a tribal-pattern fabric from S. Harris dial up the energy in one space while soft greens and organic elements give the second room relaxed attitude.
In the lower-level family room that opens to the pool courtyard, the mood is kick-off-your-shoes casual. "When the homeowners' kids come, they can unwind and not worry about anything," Waddell says. A custom sectional and trio of drinks tables encourage lounging just steps from the pool.
The comfy sectional encourages lounging near cocktail tables and a bar crafted of teak, Mitchell's nod to Brazil. Antique balloon molds hung on the walls tell stories from long ago as they prompt fresh conversations. "One-of-a-kind pieces make the rooms look collected," Waddell says. "This is a new home with rich character."
From the beginning, outdoor living was part of Mitchell's vision for the home. Indoor spaces easily connect to fresh-air relaxation spots, including a poolside lounge and two covered patios, through multiple sets of French doors. Furniture in the espalier-adorned patio is from RH. An outdoor fan ensures there's always a summer breeze.
It pleases the owners' love of history, design, architecture, and the outdoors. "They're outdoorsy people," Mitchell says. "They didn't want a sealed-up house."
Instead, they got a breeze-welcoming home with outdoor living integrated into its DNA. "My favorite thing about this house is its connection to the garden," Mitchell says. "Before Covid, people thought about outdoor spaces but drew house plans on a blank sheet of paper—the garden wasn't there. Here, everything was generated by the idea of integrating the home with the outdoors. That's how we live today, what we crave—and it's one of the things that makes this home special."