Steps away from the tranquil aqua waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Asian influence and modern tastes are evident in this a three-story beachfront home of contemporary design from architect Bradley John Smith. Although this 7,000-plus-square-foot home, with five bedrooms and six full- and two half-baths was a private commission, it would appeal to many homeowners says builder Brent Whitehead. “Modern design is popular with sophisticated, high-end clientele,” explains Whitehead. “The Asian influence makes it attractive to younger homeowners, as well as those of European descent.”
In keeping with traditional Asian design, natural wood and stone were used extensively. Sophisticated natural materials like mahogany, tiger wood, and natural and man-made stone were used in simple ways in the cabinetry, countertops, ceilings, and floors.
Working closely with the homeowners, interior designer Debbie Stevens added furnishings, fixtures, and finishes that would weather the beachfront elements while preserving the continuity of the warm, contemporary design. “My goal was to create a simple, clean design using neutral colors accented with architectural elements of wood and stone. I achieved this through multiple-wood ceiling designs, floor inlays, custom doors, and trim details. It’s also important to me to complement the exterior materials and elements by continuing them on the interior in a slightly more refined manner,” notes Stevens.
“Learning what my clients like and dislike typically guides my design process,” continues Stevens, who has worked with the homeowners before, completing two renovations of their previous home. “In this instance, that included a trip to The Ulmstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina. The homeowners had recently visited there and were enamored with the warmth and feel of the interiors. I wanted to get a first-hand feel for the actual elements that made them happy.”
A long driveway of gray pavers gently curves under a gleaming Cypress porte cochere that extends to the front door of the home. The entablature was custom designed to resemble butcher block, differentiating it from the ceiling. Black slate roof tile caps the design. Textured stone surrounds the elevator shaft, which spans the three-stories. The CBS construction is embellished with precast concrete cladding and stone elements.
The foyer exemplifies the fusion of mathematics and nature. One-by-one-inch mother-of-pearl was carefully embedded in two-by-two-inch laser cut pieces of the Turkish Limra white limestone from La Casa Tile which were installed following the Golden Mean proportional design of a Nautilus shell. The metallic powder-coated aluminum stair-rail and spindles echo the curvature. Months of research, samples, and drawings went into the creation of the chandelier, which resulted in the selection of thick Murano glass tiles, assembled into 18 glass tubes. Attached to a three-foot diameter stainless-steel plate, the entire fixture is motorized to descend for maintenance. Carpathian Burl and Carvalho veneers on a planked Sapele from Epoch Solutions crisscross the ceiling in a 3D design, complementing the shape of the room.
An oversized sectional with double chaises custom-designed and covered in Momentum Soho Sapphire velvet, dominates the generously-sized living room. Behind it, a series of five-panel shoji-style sliding doors pocket into the wall, opening the room to the adjacent dining room. A pair of swivel barrel Lexington Kava chairs in creamy, stain-resistant Crypton fabric completes the seating group. Polished Limra limestone runs up the fireplace wall. Twin mahogany bookcases are connected by a mahogany beam set low on the wall. Glass shelves are illuminated by lights tucked behind the front. Backlighting on the split-coffer ceiling design makes it appear to float. The clever design also conceals motorized sunshades for the western-facing sliding doors.
The focus of the kitchen by Epoch Solutions is the center island with its carved-glass waterfall counter-height table. The lightly brushed-finish of the Thinkglass countertop designed by Epoch Solutions resembles waves. LED lighting tucked under the table edge gives the piece an ever-changing glow from within. A wall of Lauriermax lacquered wood cabinetry in Macassar Ebony houses a Thermador gas range with pot filler, and steam and traditional single ovens by WOLF. Miele and Sub-Zero refrigerators are faced with custom doors. Twin Asko dishwashers and a Scotsman ice maker round out the fully equipped kitchen. Above the sink, motorized Roman shades are hidden when fully retracted. A trio of glittering Letizia pendant lamps hangs above the island. Each cascading fixture is two- tiers of connecting circular blown-glass pieces. The Cambria countertops are Torquay quartz.
Since the dining room is open to the living room, the chandelier above a unique table from Epoch Solutions crafted from a slab of Bubinga wood featuring a live edge provides continuity. The table rests on two Bernhardt Argent polished stainless steel bases. Ten arm chairs surround the table. Visible in the corner is the wine room, where treasured bottles rest on racks crafted from a system of cable wires. Designed by Epoch Solutions the bar features high gloss Sapele Pommele Lauriermax cabinetry outfitted with bar sink, Scotsman ice maker, and an under-the-counter refrigerator. The bar top and full backsplash are brilliant blue Vetrazo Cobalt Sky counters made from recycled glass from Skyy Vodka bottles, beer bottles, condiment jars, demolition architectural glass, and aquariums. The gas fireplace does double duty for the parlor, accessed through either of the doors flanking it.
Floating vanities with Toto undermount sinks, Watermark polished nickel fixtures, and storage towers line each side of the master bath. Made from Taj Mahal quartzite, the top and apron edges are mitered to give the appearance of a six-inch thick slab. Light from the twin Fine Art Lamps Allegretto wall sconces in silver leaf finish bounces off each of the John Richards mirror-framed, gold-trimmed oversized mirrors. Frameless glass walls and door surround the extra-large shower. Backlit floating walls inlaid with green opal-stone bullet-mosaic from La Casa Tile contain full-body shower sprays. The ceiling by Epoch Solutions is African Sapele mahogany accented by strips of burled-wood. Recessed lights around the ceiling edges give it the appearance of floating, while lights in the panels themselves provide illumination for the room.
Serene in shades of silver and gray, the parlor is simply furnished with a plump sectional and a circular ostrich-patterned leather ottoman. A striped cowhide rug anchors the seating group. Natural-woven Roman shades at each window are easily controlled and offer sleek styling. Overhead, the ceiling presents another floating coffered design, but this time the grid is three-dimensional.
The lanai runs the entire width of the house, offering multiple possibilities for outdoor living and entertaining. The 36-by-36-inch precast flooring tiles from La Casa Tile are enhanced with embedded bits of shell and stone. Split-faced stacked stone covers the entertainment wall housing both a fireplace and large screen television. Tongue-and-groove mahogany gleams overhead. Furnishings such as the bar-height mesh and metal dining chairs are impervious to the elements. The vanishing-edge pool features a hidden spa just under the surface of its crystalline waters.
The harmony and balance of the Asian contemporary design is evident when the home is viewed from offshore. The symmetrical wings of the top floor and the equal spacing in the alignment of the outdoor areas on the main floor exemplify parity. The simple, low-growing landscaping at the rear of the home allows for an unimpeded view of the Gulf of Mexico beyond the natural shoreline border of grasses and reeds.
Written by Ginny Cooper
Photography by Jimmy White
7040 Riverview Blvd.
Bradenton, FL 34209
2337 12th Street
Sarasota, FL 34237
La Casa Tile
1777 Northgate Blvd., Unit A-3
Sarasota, FL 34234