Revisionist History : A Modern Rewrite on French Colonial Design

Architect Don Cooper was charged with designing a tropically-styled house in Palmetto that was simple yet iconic and created both indoor and outdoor circulation while maximizing views of the Bradenton River. Cooper knew just where to look for inspiration—the Parlange, a French Colonial plantation house, built in 1754 in Pointe Coupee Parrish, Louisiana. The full wrap-around porch, symmetrical columns, and many graceful nuances supplied much inspiration.

“I was able to study how the house had stood the test of time in the tropical weather and make use of the proportions and details which such beautiful historic architecture provides,” says Cooper. “It was like mining for treasure.”

Builder Kenneth Keating of Camlin Custom Homes, a friend of the homeowner, even drove on a research trip to visit homes in Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry.

“I was eager to get the details correct, from the rafters and shutters to the interior and exterior trim, but I also wanted to make use of modern technology. We used Versatex, which looks exactly like wood with none of the problems that wood can present in such a humid environment,” explains Keating.

“Working with such talented professionals like Don Cooper and interior designer Susan Hritz was just a joy, and the owners love the finished home. The proof is that we’re still friends,” Keating laughed.

Hritz was delighted to work on a project where she could mix styles, textures, and colors to create a truly livable and comfortable home, while never straying far from the design’s classic roots.

“I do my job best when I work together with the client to understand and fulfill their vision,” said Hritz, “I pushed the envelope ever so slightly and created an interior design that is both exactly what the homeowner wanted but is even more beautiful than they could have imagined.”

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This tropically-styled home by Camlin Custom Homes features three-bedrooms, a four-car garage and pool house. Elegant reminders of historical architecture feature prominently, while incorporating modern products and technologies.

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Taking its color scheme from the water, sand, and lush landscaping that surrounds the home, the great room invites visitors “to sit a spell”. The Hickory White sofa and loveseat are upholstered in oatmeal linen, accented with brass nail heads. A MotionCraft recliner in taupe leather, adds additional seating and throw pillows contribute spots of color. The Palecek coffee table is made of distressed driftwood with a cane-matting top. The GJ Styles pine buffet sports a crossover design on the door fronts, and plays host to a seascape triptych from Art Classics. The entire room is wrapped in the soft blue of Sherwin-Williams Intensely Aqua paint which seems to glow in the reflected light from the Currey & Co. crystal and iron chandelier, and matching iron and crystal sconces.

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A tongue-and-groove ceiling, as found throughout the home, presides over the charming dining room. The mahogany table and bench belonged to the owners. The two nail-studded high-back chairs are upholstered in Lillian August Normadic Teal fabric and the two custom Hickory White side chairs are clad in Lillian August Deleo Blue fabric. Lighting the scene is the Hannah chandelier by Currey & Co. Window transoms and window frames were all hand-crafted by specialized trim carpenters and allow for long views of the wrap-around porch, the properties lovely landscaping, and the water beyond.

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Simple and clean design allows for fabulous finishes to be displayed prominently in this ship-shape gourmet kitchen. Cambria Berwyn quartz countertops make light work of food preparation and also provide counter seating via Noir Furniture’s whitewashed mahogany barstools with mushroom cotton-velvet seats. Dove gray and crisp white cabinetry allows everything to have its place with no clutter. Whitewashed shelves on either side of the chrome-banded range hood hold essentials. Appliances, including the wine cooler between two refrigerators, are by Wolf and Viking.  A trio of pendant lights from Visual Comfort is warmly reflected in the dark-stained hickory floor.

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The master bedroom is truly a retreat, in soft shades of pewter, silver, and ivory. Walls painted with Knitting Needles by Sherwin-Williams set the mood of this tranquil room. The Century Furniture bed is a serene driftwood gray, topped with hand-quilted Pine Cone Hill Brussels bedding in organic linen and cotton. Twin side tables are also from Century Furniture and hold crystal lamps with parchment shades. A Hickory White chaise lounge is upholstered in a natural gray fabric by Kravet. Throw pillows and the owners’ own trio of prints continue the tone-on-tone theme, as does the lovey Indian Kinnara floral wool rug from Surya. The Visual Comfort chandelier is reflected in the silver-finished frame of the Uttermost mirror. Hand-crafted louvered shutters, found throughout the home help to filter the Florida sun.

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In a quaint alcove rests a freestanding claw-footed tub. Lattice-patterned tile below the chair rail and hexagonal honed Carrara floor tile from Fisher Tile reflect the tone of the Benjamin Moore Arctic Grey wall paint. A Hudson Valley Lighting Dunkirk chandelier provides a glamourous spray of crystal light.

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Once gracing the front of a Chicago firehouse, circa 1846, the lanai bricks were removed, transported, and hand-split before being laid by master masons who accompanied the bricks on their trek from Illinois. Working on- site for six months, the highly skilled team laid brick for all the walkways, steps, lanais, and patios, as well as a medallion in the driveway. Seating for ten is provided at a zinc-topped, weathered wood table. Hand-woven wicker bar stools have slate gray Sunbrella cushions. A compete outdoor kitchen with Lynx and Sub-Zero appliances is highlighted by aqua glass subway tile from Fisher Tile.

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The rear exterior of the house features symmetrical, handcrafted columns accentuating the wrap-around porch.  Reclaimed brick steps lead down to the travertine pool deck, where chaise lounges, from Summer Classics await. Chairs, also from Summer Classics with slate gray Sunbrella cushions surround a custom fire pit, inviting a night of good conversation.


Written by Kitt Walsh

Photography by Jimmy White

Camlin Custom Homes
3890 East State Road 64, Suite 101
Bradenton, FL 34208

Fisher Tile
2337 12th Street
Sarasota, FL 34237

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