Family-Friendly Details Distinguish an Elegant, English-Inspired Florida Home
A Florida family finds its perfect match in an English-inspired home designed by Andrew Howard.
Modern English Manor
For designer Andrew Howard, more isn't always more. "Not every piece in a room needs to be the star," he says. "Every space should have only one or two shining stars. Those elements should take center stage while other pieces fall into the background. If everything stands out, nothing stands out."
Family friends and clients Christian and Manala Douglas took that advice to heart when working with Howard on their newest (and hopefully forever) home in Jacksonville, Florida.
Inspired by a visit to Chatsworth House, a renowned mansion in Christian's home country of England, the couple wanted a modern version of an English country manor: an unpretentious home with functional, updated, and, most important, family-friendly interiors to accommodate their growing family.
"We wanted a home that has a designer look without being unapproachable," Manala says. "A space that reflects our personalities and looks flawless while still hiding juice accidents."
So Howard went to work, keeping interiors updated and clean-lined by incorporating relatively sparse plasterwork and avoiding heavy moldings and architectural details. Next, the designer added visual interest with color, sculptural fixtures, and strategically placed pops of pattern.
In the living room, Howard's one (or two) shining-star edict holds true. A large-scale antique brass chandelier draws the eye, set against a ceiling stained dark to add what he calls "human scale" to the room.
"That fixture is definitely the centerpiece here," Manala says. "It feels like a piece of jewelry set off against black velvet. It becomes the Hope Diamond in the room."
Colorful, Comfortable Living Room
The room's co-star is a Japanese-inspired, indigo-hue fabric used in draperies and as upholstery on a club chair. The rest of the room revolves around color, comfort, and usability. Fabric-fronted cabinets flank the fireplace and provide storage. Two large chesterfields clad in slate cotton velvet and a vibrant yellow leather armchair round out the cast of characters and offer plentiful family seating.
"The ceiling and the windows really deserved to be the standouts here," Howard says. "The rest of the room was kept relatively simple. The sisal rug and sofas almost recede in comparison." As for the splash of yellow, the designer believes every successful room needs layers of color. "The yellow plays off the blue beautifully," he notes. "It's a standard Florida palette with a bit of a spin—more hip and modern."
Show-Stopping Blue Kitchen
That updated coastal color scheme spills over into the kitchen. The living room's blue is mirrored in countertop-to-ceiling Moroccan-inspired tile. Playing off that hue is a mix of neutral yet elegant elements, from the mirrored cabinets that house Manala's beloved wedding china to an industrial-style island with a Calacatta Gold marble countertop.
The real showstopper here, however, is the curved-apron hood with brass banding. Other elements were chosen for their supporting roles. "The hood was actually a given before we even started the house," Howard says. "Manala and Christian had seen it and fallen in love with it." He notes that he designed everything else in the room so it wouldn't detract from the hood. "It's the mack daddy in the room, no doubt," the designer adds. "Even the lighting was purposefully kept smaller in scale so as not to compete with it."
Metal details, including the brass banding on the hood, brushed nickel and antique brass sconces, and brass and bronze fixtures over the island, were intentionally mixed for depth.
Casual Dining Nook
In the breakfast room, casual dining is at its finest. Upholstered chairs from Luxe Decor and a built-in bench provide seating around the custom dining table.
The coastal colors continue in the nearby pantry. White subway tiles and open shelving create an airy feeling.
Dining Room Design
Though the dining room is arguably all about neutrals and a mix of metals (a grass-cloth wallcovering with faux-gold rivets, curvaceous cream-color dining chairs with nailhead trim, faceted gilt lamps, and a nickel starburst chandelier) the home's most personal item shines brightly here.
"To me, this room started with the artwork," says Manala of a brilliantly colored Hermès scarf, which is framed above the credenza. The scarf is special to her because it was a gift from her aunt, but had been in her closet for almost 12 years. "I finally have the right place for it, and it's really one of the highlights of this house to me. It makes me feel like I'm home."
Against the room's otherwise quiet palette, the intricate piece comes to life, serendipitously playing off the home's coastal-with-a-twist scheme. A marriage made in design heaven.
Subtle Powder Room
Ann Sacks tile adds subtle shimmer to the powder room walls. The veining of an onyx countertop draws on the dark tones of the vanity finish.
Luxurious Master Suite
Stepping into the home's more personal zone, the master suite, color becomes less reserved and more personalized.
A mix of textures as well as buoyant color distinguishes the bedroom's serene atmosphere. A white flokati rug, a tufted headboard, a smattering of animal prints, and heavy, velvety curtains encourage total retreat.
"It's almost as if you're given a big bear hug every time you walk into the room," Howard says with a laugh. Manala wholeheartedly agrees. "It feels like a luxurious, romantic hotel suite," she says. "It's toy-free, kid-free, and impactful."
Amethyst velvet draperies with custom pelmets "feel like they should be in a hotel suite," Howard says.
Pink Dressing Room
The primarily blue palette of the rest of the house takes a backseat to more romantic hues in the master suite. Purples and pinks grab the spotlight, but are used strategically in Billy Baldwin-inspired window treatments and an utterly feminine closet.
"In my mind, these are rooms where it's OK to step outside of the box colorwise," Howard says. "Your living room isn't necessarily that space, but why not in your master bedroom?" He admits to some nervousness when Manala said she wanted a pink closet. "But in the end, we really embraced it, and it turned out beautifully. It's just a warm, happy hue."
Benjamin Moore's "Pink Ruffle" gives a girly edge to Manala's dressing room.
Blue tile from New Ravenna was installed vertically for visual interest.
Adding Flair to the Porch
A sisal rug adds interior flair to this exterior space. The pillows and blue-and-white ceramic garden stools from Mrs. Howard add a dose of cool color to the otherwise neutral space. Sofas and chairs are from HomeGoods.
French doors off the living room offer access to a poolside seating area in shades of blue and beige.
A House That Is Just Right
This is a place Manala would like to call home forever. "This is our third home in this neighborhood," she notes, adding that she believes the house reflects both her and her husband's personalities. "It's truer to us than anywhere else we've lived. I feel like this is our third bowl of porridge, and it's just right."
Manala and Christian Douglas are pictured here with daughters London Rose, 4, and Isla, 3.