Bygone Florida

At this Naples rental, you can grab a Key lime off a tree, freshen your drink, and just relax.
Text by Logan Ward

If you yearn for the pre–air conditioning beach shacks and breezy sleeping porches of Old Florida, you’ll feel right at home at Periwinkle Cottage. Don’t worry—the rental has plenty of modern-day comforts, such as central air and custom linens. But if you tilt open the jalousie windows and collapse on the daybed, you can’t help but feel the breeze that brought vacationers here decades ago.

Periwinkle's owners could have bulldozed the abandoned house and squeezed a stucco palace onto the lot. Instead, they poured resources and energy into refurbishing the two-bedroom home, creating rental income while also preserving a piece of Old Naples.

“This is an authentic cottage,” says Maine-based designer Tracey Rapisardi, whom the owners hired for this project. “I wanted the look to be clean, but also relaxed and playful.”

Once contractors ripped out the avocado shag carpeting and popcorn-stuccoed walls, Tracey got to work, adding white beaded board to give the walls texture and character. She jazzed up the white with pink and periwinkle slipcovers, patterned bedding, and painted furniture. In a flash of inspiration, she chose hot pink for the inside of a creamy white hutch, turning a humdrum built-in into a dazzling kitchen cupboard. Wide-plank heart-pine floors handsomely contrast the pastel palette.

Any beach house worth its salt has its share of peeling-paint finishes, and Periwinkle is no exception: Salvaged architectural elements—a mantel hanging like a shelf in the master bedroom, a pair of fence finials, and old shutters—balance the freshly painted furniture. Displayed on the living room mantel are giant conch shells and working vintage oil lamps, which are handy if a power outage sweeps you further back into Old Florida than you might care to go.

Thanks to extensive landscaping, the yard also conjures up Florida’s past. You can follow the sun (or run from it), choosing from several patios around the house—one with a table for two, another with chaise longues, and another with a table for four beside a grove of orange and grapefruit trees. With one dining area near the kitchen and another on the sleeping porch, you have multiple options for dining in or eating out. Some of Naples’ best restaurants and shops can be found along nearby Third and Fifth streets.

Even closer than the restaurants and shops is the beach, considered one of the prettiest anywhere. Stretching for miles in either direction, it’s wider than ever these days, thanks to a recent restoration project that added hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand. And just a short stroll up the beach is the historic Naples Pier, originally built in the late 19th century (and rebuilt several times since). Every evening, people parade out to the pier to watch the sunset. They’ve done that forever in Old Naples. And they probably always will.

(published January/February 2007)