Modern needn’t mean cold. This Florida beach house whispers relaxed, contemporary charm.
Writer: Mary Ellen Stancill, Stylist: Anna Molvik
1 of 13Photographer: Francesco Lagnese
Known for his clean, contemporary design, New York-based architect and designer Russell Groves was the perfect choice to bring streamlined style to this Vero Beach, Florida home’s more traditional lines.
Inspired by British Colonial architecture in the Caribbean, as well as the historical design of the American Southeast, the house is planned around an interior courtyard and features stucco walls, divided-light windows, and French doors, painted wood shutters, double gallery porches, and cantilevered balconies.
This beach retreat located in Windsor Village, a pedestrian-friendly development planned around a private beach club, features two stories, three bedrooms, and a guesthouse with a modern, open feel. The clubhouse entry, is an archetype of Windsor Village architecture.
4 of 13Photographer: Francesco Lagnese
For a clean backdrop, Russell painted most rooms in neutral shades of crisp white and light beige, and stained the existing hardwood floors a contrasting dark brown. He stuck to a restrained, neutral palette for the textiles, too, choosing curtains, rugs, and upholstery in cool grays and sandy taupes.
5 of 13Photographer: Francesco Lagnese
Throughout the house, the juxtaposition of warm and cool colors, organic and sleek surfaces, and dark and light furnishings makes the rooms come alive. In the living room, a camel-colored leather-framed mirror adds a warm note to the cool palette. Gunmetal console tables and a travertine-and-steel coffee table offer a slick contrast to the nubby weaves of the sisal rug and linen upholstery. A pair of circa-1940s lounge chairs with ebonized frames makes the perfect retro counterpoint to a contemporary white sofa.
The refined, reserved look allows the eye-catching light fixtures to be the style stars—and focal points—of each room. In the double-height entry, an oversize linen pendant with leather contrast stitching offers a dramatic welcome for the owners and their guests.
Black-and-white photographs, drawings, and paintings of natural elements, such as a conch shell, punctuate plain white walls and subtly reference the beach setting without taking away from the restrained décor. In the dining room, the custom pendant light hangs above a bleached oak table, wishbone dining chairs with rattan seats, and a gray wool rug. The polished nickel drum shade is like a functional piece of art.
“We used natural textures and materials like sisal rugs and linen upholstery that recall the surroundings, but the mood of the house is much quieter than you’d think of for the beach,” says Russell. The effect is sublime simplicity that encourages restful lounging after an active day in the sun.
Every color inside, including the occasional hits of palm green on throw pillows, can be found in the landscape. “The way to mix in subtle color without disrupting a serene interior is to pull the color in from the outdoors,” says Russell.
Despite the mostly understated palette, not every color in the house is a neutral shade. Tawny butterscotch and soft blue-gray run throughout the downstairs living spaces, but the children’s room upstairs features a jolt of color, with bright green-and-turquoise striped quilts that soften a pair of steel Parsons twin beds.
With just the right balance of elegance and comfort, the house is formal enough for entertaining but casual enough for bathing suits and bare feet. “It’s not what you’d immediately expect from a beach house,” Russell says. “But it’s very welcoming and comfortable and restful.”
While the home’s sleek touches may seem, at first glance, more suitable for an urban hideaway than the sandy seaside and sunny skies of South Florida, the subtle beach nods and soothing atmosphere means there’s no mistaking the place for anything other than what it is—the ultimate coastal vacation home.