Our 2003 Coastal Living Cottage in the Sky, perched above South Florida's Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, redefines condominium living.
In the warm afternoon air, birds fly from palm to palm, chattering to each other over the sound of bay waters lapping the shoreline. In this pristine setting, The Colony Golf & Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Florida, basks in bright sun and salty breezes. The 809-acre Gulf Coast development borders Estero Bay and a nature preserve.
Streets and sidewalks are cobblestone. Dramatic, carved-stone fountains anchor the neighborhood's roundabouts. Exterior color schemes feature earth tones from brown to coral, with tile, brick, wood, and stone details. "The community has a Mediterranean feel, with a Tuscan architectural influence," says Stefan Johansson, a vice president and senior project manager.
Area amenities provide entertainment for all ages and interests. Residents revel in a day at the beach, after boarding a ferry that delivers them to a private 34-acre island with wide strips of white sand. Tennis, pool, spa, and fitness facilities are available to owners, along with a boat landing and canoe park. A Jerry Pate-designed championship golf course challenges even the experienced golfer. After a day in the sun, homeowners choose from dining options―formal and casual―offered by the country club and Bay Club. "Here, you are removed from the nearby hustle and bustle of Naples and Fort Myers," says George Page, senior vice president of the tower division at WCI, creators of The Colony.
As one of the first rooms you see when you enter this residence, the living room "is a bit more sophisticated and formal than the rest of the house," says designer Linda Woodrum. "But it remains welcoming." A creamy silk sofa and matching love seat provide ample space to sit and visit. Taupe chairs complete the U-shaped arrangement. An obsidian-black leather ottoman serves as a sleek cocktail table.
Colorful artwork and natural accessories punctuate the subtle palette. Linda chose a woven rug trimmed in black to anchor the area, as well as coordinating solid-blue and patterned pillows. She says, "The whole approach is beach-oriented with lots of earthy materials, such as grass, wood, and stone."
Linda worked with architect William Court to create custom details. A cottage-style grid graces the ceiling in the living and dining rooms. "Our goal was to create a version of the elegant Spanish detailing that architect Addison Mizner brought to Palm Beach in the 1920s," says William. Two sets of walnut-stained doors lend visual balance. One opens to reveal a bar with a sink and wine chiller. Hickory-finished hardwood floors were engineered to look old, adding to the home's character. William says, "We came up with a style that could be kept quite simple, but remain elegant."
At the floor plan's center, the dining room invites lingering. "I wanted it to feel like you're dining outdoors," Linda says.
White panels frame the space, distinguishing it from the adjacent living room. "The fabric softens noise and helps with acoustics in the large expanse," Linda says. A Queen Anne-style table adjusts from 72 to 112 inches and seats six to eight in cozy silk side chairs and splat-back wooden armchairs. An almost 6-foot-long credenza provides plenty of storage, with three lined drawers and shelving behind doors. On top, turned buffet lamps shed light on a cluster of landscapes by Cape Cod artist Jennifer Morgan.
In the kitchen, clean lines and modern appliances make the spacious room inviting. Linda dressed it in crisp, matte-white cabinets and pearl-hued, solid-surface countertops. Cobalt countertop appliances and a blue-and-white glass tile backsplash add bold color. Stainless steel appliances and cabinet hardware contribute to the contemporary feel. Above, an iron-and-glass hanging light complements the open kitchen style.
A deep, undermount stainless steel sink topped with a satin-nickel, goose-neck faucet makes cutting and arranging flowers a neater endeavor. Seafood and produce stay fresh in a 42-inch, side-by-side, stainless steel refrigerator with electronic controls and a sealed, adjustable humidity bin.
Enviable positioning opens the family room to the kitchen on one side and to a dramatic, bird's-eye view of land and sea on the other. Linda calls it "a sunny beach cabana floating in the sky." She devoted half of the space to living room-style seating, while the other half forms a casual breakfast nook.
The kitchen's graphic bent continues in the family room. Here, old-fashioned ticking dresses armchairs, and a vivid pattern trims draperies and covers pillows. "Stripes bring a nautical feel to this room," says Linda. Elements such as a woven rug and sand-colored chair upholstery echo the room's natural-grass wall covering. "The palette really relates to the beach," says Linda.
In the casual living area, a blue leather sofa, a tufted leather bench, and armchairs provide seating. Two square, glass-top lamp tables push together to form a long cocktail table with a shelf underneath for storage. Above the sofa, paintings, in yellows and oranges (by artist Sid Smith) lend a sunny disposition.
Anchored by a pedestal table with a carved base and inlay top, the breakfast nook doubles as a spot for afternoon board games. Instead of using traditional dining chairs, Linda surrounded the table with upholstered armchairs and a built-in window seat.
This feminine space offers a quiet getaway, with double doors that close for private conversations. "It is a restful place," says Linda. "It's like a garden even though it's indoors." The room, saturated in blue and trimmed in bright white, hosts white furniture and accessories as well as light wood pieces.
Above the sofa, a painted-frame mirror and a pair of candle sconces add to the conservatory feel of the room. On the opposite wall, two cane-back wing chairs flank a charming, distressed six-drawer chest. Two wood urn lamps and pieces of coral bring the look together.
To contrast the white, a wicker map table on casters and an armchair with a dramatic bamboo back are featured in the same wheat finish. Woven wood blinds shade sliding glass doors from the small terrace. On warm fall days, guests migrate outside to the balcony.
Almost every room opens onto a terrace. On one side of the high-rise, two guest bedrooms and the garden room share an outdoor space overlooking The Colony Bay Club and Estero Bay. The opposite side accesses a screened balcony overlooking La Scala's pool, the bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. Sturdy teak furniture outfitted with plump cushions invites folks to enjoy nature's sights and sounds. A cocktail table and four chairs await breakfast or after-dinner drinks. Chaises welcome those in search of relaxation. "This could turn out to be the most popular spot in the house," says Linda.
Inside La Scala, elegant design reigns supreme. Just past the concierge desk, a two-story lobby outfitted in svelte furnishings leads to grand staircases, elevators, and the building's meeting rooms, including card and billiard rooms, a theater, a library, and guest suites.
In La Scala's 12th floor, elevator doors open to reveal this residence's marble-floored foyer, accented with a British Colonial-style, bowfront chest and leather executive chairs. A woven-grass wall covering gives texture to the room.
The entry offers an introduction to the natural materials used throughout the home―grass, leather, coral," explains Linda. "It gives a sense of what's to come, including a sophisticated but relaxed style."
Just steps inside, double doors open to reveal the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home. A combined living and dining area acts as the condominium's central space. From there, a large doorway leads to the kitchen and family room. Bedroom suites extend from the main area via short hallways.
In the romantic master suite, a sheer valance edged in a pale blue striped fabric puddles on either side of the queen-size bed's headboard. "The swag is simple but dramatic," Linda says. The edging fabric came from a duvet in just the right hue. Instead of using the duvet on the bed, Linda had a seamstress create the swag, a skirted round, and a throw pillow from its material. "I knew the color and pattern would work beautifully in the room," she says.
Adding to the ambience, sumptuous 420-thread-count, parchment-colored linens dress the classically designed bed. A four-drawer chest stands on one side, a skirted table on the other, both holding books and tall lamps reminiscent of antique olive jars.
Against a captivating view, a mustard-colored love seat tucks into one of the room's corners. A chair, upholstered in quilted fabric and finished with brass nails, stands near the love seat, creating an intimate space.
Separated from the rest of the house by a small private hall, the master suite features a convenient beverage center, ideal for morning coffee or a late-night snack. Says Linda, "It's perfect for early hours when you don't want to disturb anyone."
In the expansive master bath, soft blue walls blend with the pale browns of the marble floor and countertops. A shower is outfitted with handheld and rain-style shower heads in a satin-nickel finish. Lever-handled fixtures dress matching lavatories and a corner-set bathtub.
You always need one room that's hot and spicy," says Linda. In this home, it's the pink guest bedroom. "The contrast is fun because you look down the hall and see a surprise splash of color," she explains. Linda chose one warm hue for the walls and lightened it by three shades for the ceiling.
A queen-size bed with panel head- and footboards and finial-topped posts harkens back to Old Florida architecture. A wicker rocking chair and a settee in a bold checked pattern offer a spot for bedtime stories. Fabrics in various pinks adorn the room, and a dainty ribbon trims the draperies. A bright painting by St. Simons Island, Georgia, artist Cathie Parmelee depicts cut flowers in juice cartons.
In the second guest room, an iron bed features graceful curves. The same serpentine lines repeat on the drawers of a white sofa table, dresser, and a three-drawer nightstand that provide copious storage for visitors. A muted palette―from wall color to carpet―showcases texture. Creamy upholstery with thread knots in taupe and green covers the rocker's cushions. Brown and green tones also appear on vertical striped draperies. Linda chose a quilted coverlet for the bed and accented it with a fringed bark-cloth pillow.
Black-and-white photos and a pedestal globe on the skirted bedside table are reminiscent of exploration. A large pond yacht stands proudly on a sofa table with glass-and-iron lantern-style lamps on either side. "Added texture gives the room a loose, low-key feel," says Linda.
The bayside development The Colony presents a choice of housing styles and sizes―villas, coach homes, estate homes, and tower properties. One of four towers, the 20-story La Scala building offers residents a designer-ready property―the shell can be custom-finished to suit buyers' tastes. Walls can even shift to suit floor plan needs, but plumbing locations are literally set in stone. Owners choose appliances, fixtures, and cabinets, as well as flooring and trim styles, offering discriminating homeowners―and their interior designers―the flexibility they desire.