A trip to a romantic Bahamian inn inspired a home makeover of dazzling proportions for a Boca Grande couple.
The avid boaters had been living in their Boca Grande home for more than a decade when they moored at The Landing on Harbour Island . The idyllic boutique hotel would become their architectural muse. Off the northeast coast of Eleuthera and accessible only by water, the luxe 19th-century inn bears the design stamp of owner India Hicks, author of Island Life: Inspired Interiors, and daughter of famed London decorator David Hicks.
“It had the ultimate British Colonial look: clapboard exteriors, jalousie windows, tall doors, higher ceilings and dark plank floors,” the husband explains.
“We felt we would be lucky if we could get this look; the previous owners of our house were from New Hampshire , and it resembled a ski lodge,” the wife recalls.
Hoping to avoid a tear-down, the pair called upon Sarasota architect Cliff Scholz.
Scholz immediately realized the project was more than skin-deep. “This was an older frame residence, not at all suited to Florida ,” he says. “It was below FEMA flood code by a foot and a half. There was only one guest bedroom, but the owners hoped to accommodate several families at one time, including their adult children and grandchildren. They also wanted improved flow throughout the house for entertaining, and more light in their dark living room.”
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Sofa: Henredon; fabric Old World Weavers crewel embroidery
Louis XV chairs: Clients’ own; fabric Schumacher Palazzo Cinese
Lounge chairs: Clients’ own; fabric Hinson & Company – Flanders
Bench: Hickory chair; fabric Brunschwig & Fils Cosmopolitan chenille
Rug: Asmara – Madeira rug
Rug: Shiraz of Sarasota and Tampa
Drapery: Schumacher Coconut Grove
Chairs: Hickory chair, Audrey lounge chair; fabric Travers, Jean Floral
Etageres: Global Views
Cocktail table: Hickory chair, Sloan table by Thomas O’Brien
Chairs: Hickory chair; fabric: Osprey plaid
Dining table: Clients’ own
Double console: Century Furniture
Oversized lantern: Hart Assoc.
Chandelier: Hart Assoc.
Table and chairs: Clients’ own
Sisal Rug: Clients’ own
Lamps: International Art Properties – handmade celadon crackle glaze
Bed: Stickley Furniture, Duanesburg bed
Rug: Custom by Tai Ping Carpets through Edward Fields
Chest: John Clarence Antiques LLC of Tampa
Chaise: Hickory chair; fabric Bob Collins Toile Afrique
Thibault wall covering Sandshell print
Tub specified by architects
Upstairs Guest Bedroom:
Fabric on king size bed: shams Brunschwig & Fils Lovebirds in Indigo; skirt Carlton V. Kent Plaid; wall covering in guest bath: Brunschwig & Fils Lhasa in Indigo.
Rug: Meridia Meridian – Chinese sea grass.
Blue chairs and orange ottoman: clients’ own
Deck teak furniture on terrace: Through client
It wasn’t easy, but Scholz created a beacon of Georgian architecture embellished with details reminiscent of the Caribbean . From the water, the 9,000-square-foot family compound now exudes tropical island style: cool white fretwork, tall blue shutters, iconic metal roof and breezy wraparound verandas.
Also tasked with transforming the home’s interiors into the formal island style of The Landing, Scholz brought in experts in the vernacular, noted Tampa-based interior designers Robert John Dean, FASID, and Roger C. Dufalla, ASID. “Robert and I go back 20 years: When we first met, he was collaborating on interiors for my mentor [the late Tampa architect], Bo MacEwen,” Scholz says. Indeed, the classic style that MacEwen favored resonates throughout the furnishings.
Fortunately, the English and Oriental antiques the couple already owned are the foundation of the Georgian/Caribbean style they so admired. To the homeowners’ delight, almost every piece was used. “When you start out with good, simple pieces that are comfortable and not trendy, they can be used over and over again. Both Roger and I feel it’s important to carry over the look that clients have, particularly in this case, where they collected beautiful antiques and artwork,” Dean explains. “It tells you a lot about the client.”
The existing interiors told the designers their clients preferred English furniture in formal arrangements—the Georgian part of the equation. To create a casual Caribbean balance, Dean and Dufalla added hand-blocked linen fabrics, crewel embroidery, a coastal color scheme and an open floor plan that flows effortlessly, perfect for large family gatherings and parties. In true British Colonial style, the owners chose a new four-poster bed and dark-stained wide plank floors throughout.
Scholz lifted the entire 3,800-square-foot structure and built it up to meet FEMA regulations. He stripped everything off the outside and increased the living space horizontally and vertically to 6,100 square feet under air. A second story was tacked onto the center of the house, adding two en suite guest rooms.
Scholz also built a new, separate guest house with family room and two bedroom suites. Scholz next remodeled an existing boathouse, carved out a new master bath, expanded the kitchen and added Georgian-style dormers for natural light in the living room. The entire compound sits under a new common roof linking all the pieces. “Our goal was to pull a lot of disjointed elements together and make them work as a cohesive unit that looks as if it has always been that way,” he says. “You never want a home to look added on to.”
But you do want to maximize views, especially on this spectacular parcel with its 270-degree water panorama and 550 feet of shoreline. “The house is located on a peninsula and surrounded on three sides by water. It’s probably one of the prettiest pieces of natural property in Florida I’ve ever worked with,” says Dean, who drew inspiration for the green, blue, white and taupe color palette from the natural vistas. “
Everyone was attentive to giving us the British Colonial Bahamian look we wanted,” the wife recalls. “Robert and Roger reused everything we loved, even the cabinetry and paneling in the library, which were dismantled and moved to a different location.”
“And Cliff’s addition of the second-story guest suites, living room dormers and skylights was a brilliant move,” the husband concludes. “It’s so wonderful now to get natural light and see the views from every room.”
Island Life How to create inspired British Colonial interiors.
Blended architecture – Artfully combine classic Georgian design with details indigenous to the Caribbean : clapboard cladding, contrasting shutters, metal roofs, transoms, romantic verandas.
Dark polished wood – English mahogany antiques, built-in libraries and dark stained floors reflect the look that British colonists brought to the Caribbean .
Tropical palette – From historic blue and white prints to soft pastel green, blue and neutrals taken from the sea and sand, the color palette should counterpoint formal antiques and furniture.
Crafted textures – Choose handcrafted soft furnishings: needlepoint and natural fiber rugs, crisp hand-blocked linens and embroidered crewels for island authenticity.
Don’t worry, be happy – Adapt to easy island living with carefree materials. Scholz specified maintenance-free siding, roof, decking and trim that require nothing more than power-washing once a year.