Our 2003 Coastal Living Cottage in the Sky, perched above South Florida's Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, redefines condominium living.

By Lacey N. Howard
July 02, 2004
John O'Hagan

In the warm afternoon air, birds fly from palm to palm,chattering to each other over the sound of bay waters lapping theshoreline. In this pristine setting, The Colony Golf & Bay Clubin Bonita Springs, Florida, basks in bright sun and salty breezes.The 809-acre Gulf Coast development borders Estero Bay and a naturepreserve.

Streets and sidewalks are cobblestone. Dramatic, carved-stonefountains anchor the neighborhood's roundabouts. Exterior colorschemes 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, avice 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 thatdelivers them to a private 34-acre island with wide strips of whitesand. Tennis, pool, spa, and fitness facilities are available toowners, along with a boat landing and canoe park. A JerryPate-designed championship golf course challenges even theexperienced golfer. After a day in the sun, homeowners choose fromdining options―formal and casual―offered by the countryclub and Bay Club. "Here, you are removed from the nearby hustleand bustle of Naples and Fort Myers," says George Page, senior vicepresident of the tower division at WCI, creators of The Colony.

As one of the first rooms you see when you enter thisresidence, the living room "is a bit more sophisticated and formalthan the rest of the house," says designer Linda Woodrum. "But itremains welcoming." A creamy silk sofa and matching love seatprovide ample space to sit and visit. Taupe chairs complete theU-shaped arrangement. An obsidian-black leather ottoman serves as asleek cocktail table.

Colorful artwork and natural accessories punctuate the subtlepalette. Linda chose a woven rug trimmed in black to anchor thearea, as well as coordinating solid-blue and patterned pillows. Shesays, "The whole approach is beach-oriented with lots of earthymaterials, such as grass, wood, and stone."

Linda worked with architect William Court to create customdetails. A cottage-style grid graces the ceiling in the living anddining rooms. "Our goal was to create a version of the elegantSpanish detailing that architect Addison Mizner brought to PalmBeach in the 1920s," says William. Two sets of walnut-stained doorslend visual balance. One opens to reveal a bar with a sink and winechiller. Hickory-finished hardwood floors were engineered to lookold, adding to the home's character. William says, "We came up witha style that could be kept quite simple, but remain elegant."

At the floor plan's center, the dining room inviteslingering. "I wanted it to feel like you're dining outdoors," Lindasays.

White panels frame the space, distinguishing it from theadjacent living room. "The fabric softens noise and helps withacoustics in the large expanse," Linda says. A Queen Anne-styletable adjusts from 72 to 112 inches and seats six to eight in cozysilk side chairs and splat-back wooden armchairs. An almost6-foot-long credenza provides plenty of storage, with three lineddrawers and shelving behind doors. On top, turned buffet lamps shedlight on a cluster of landscapes by Cape Cod artist JenniferMorgan.

In the kitchen, clean lines and modern appliances make thespacious room inviting. Linda dressed it in crisp, matte-whitecabinets and pearl-hued, solid-surface countertops. Cobaltcountertop appliances and a blue-and-white glass tile backsplashadd bold color. Stainless steel appliances and cabinet hardwarecontribute to the contemporary feel. Above, an iron-and-glasshanging light complements the open kitchen style.

A deep, undermount stainless steel sink topped with asatin-nickel, goose-neck faucet makes cutting and arranging flowersa neater endeavor. Seafood and produce stay fresh in a 42-inch,side-by-side, stainless steel refrigerator with electronic controlsand a sealed, adjustable humidity bin.

Enviable positioning opens the family room to the kitchen onone side and to a dramatic, bird's-eye view of land and sea on theother. Linda calls it "a sunny beach cabana floating in the sky."She devoted half of the space to living room-style seating, whilethe 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 trimsdraperies and covers pillows. "Stripes bring a nautical feel tothis room," says Linda. Elements such as a woven rug andsand-colored chair upholstery echo the room's natural-grass wallcovering. "The palette really relates to the beach," saysLinda.

In the casual living area, a blue leather sofa, a tufted leatherbench, and armchairs provide seating. Two square, glass-top lamptables push together to form a long cocktail table with a shelfunderneath for storage. Above the sofa, paintings, in yellows andoranges (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 thetable with upholstered armchairs and a built-in window seat.

This feminine space offers a quiet getaway, with double doorsthat close for private conversations. "It is a restful place," saysLinda. "It's like a garden even though it's indoors." The room,saturated in blue and trimmed in bright white, hosts whitefurniture and accessories as well as light wood pieces.

Above the sofa, a painted-frame mirror and a pair of candlesconces add to the conservatory feel of the room. On the oppositewall, two cane-back wing chairs flank a charming, distressedsix-drawer chest. Two wood urn lamps and pieces of coral bring thelook together.

To contrast the white, a wicker map table on casters and anarmchair with a dramatic bamboo back are featured in the same wheatfinish. Woven wood blinds shade sliding glass doors from the smallterrace. On warm fall days, guests migrate outside to thebalcony.

Almost every room opens onto a terrace. On one side of thehigh-rise, two guest bedrooms and the garden room share an outdoorspace overlooking The Colony Bay Club and Estero Bay. The oppositeside accesses a screened balcony overlooking La Scala's pool, thebay, and the Gulf of Mexico. Sturdy teak furniture outfitted withplump cushions invites folks to enjoy nature's sights and sounds. Acocktail table and four chairs await breakfast or after-dinnerdrinks. Chaises welcome those in search of relaxation. "This couldturn out to be the most popular spot in the house," says Linda.

Inside La Scala, elegant design reigns supreme. Just past theconcierge desk, a two-story lobby outfitted in svelte furnishingsleads to grand staircases, elevators, and the building's meetingrooms, including card and billiard rooms, a theater, a library, andguest suites.

In La Scala's 12th floor, elevator doors open to reveal thisresidence's marble-floored foyer, accented with a BritishColonial-style, bowfront chest and leather executive chairs. Awoven-grass wall covering gives texture to the room.

The entry offers an introduction to the natural materials usedthroughout the home―grass, leather, coral," explains Linda."It gives a sense of what's to come, including a sophisticated butrelaxed style."

Just steps inside, double doors open to reveal thethree-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home. A combined living anddining area acts as the condominium's central space. From there, alarge doorway leads to the kitchen and family room. Bedroom suitesextend from the main area via short hallways.

In the romantic master suite, a sheer valance edged in a paleblue striped fabric puddles on either side of the queen-size bed'sheadboard. "The swag is simple but dramatic," Linda says. Theedging fabric came from a duvet in just the right hue. Instead ofusing the duvet on the bed, Linda had a seamstress create the swag,a skirted round, and a throw pillow from its material. "I knew thecolor and pattern would work beautifully in the room," shesays.

Adding to the ambience, sumptuous 420-thread-count,parchment-colored linens dress the classically designed bed. Afour-drawer chest stands on one side, a skirted table on the other,both holding books and tall lamps reminiscent of antique olivejars.

Against a captivating view, a mustard-colored love seat tucksinto one of the room's corners. A chair, upholstered in quiltedfabric 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 formorning coffee or a late-night snack. Says Linda, "It's perfect forearly hours when you don't want to disturb anyone."

In the expansive master bath, soft blue walls blend with thepale browns of the marble floor and countertops. A shower isoutfitted with handheld and rain-style shower heads in asatin-nickel finish. Lever-handled fixtures dress matchinglavatories 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 funbecause you look down the hall and see a surprise splash of color,"she explains. Linda chose one warm hue for the walls and lightenedit by three shades for the ceiling.

A queen-size bed with panel head- and footboards andfinial-topped posts harkens back to Old Florida architecture. Awicker rocking chair and a settee in a bold checked pattern offer aspot 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 flowersin juice cartons.

In the second guest room, an iron bed features graceful curves.The same serpentine lines repeat on the drawers of a white sofatable, dresser, and a three-drawer nightstand that provide copiousstorage for visitors. A muted palette―from wall color tocarpet―showcases texture. Creamy upholstery with thread knotsin taupe and green covers the rocker's cushions. Brown and greentones also appear on vertical striped draperies. Linda chose aquilted coverlet for the bed and accented it with a fringedbark-cloth pillow.

Black-and-white photos and a pedestal globe on the skirtedbedside table are reminiscent of exploration. A large pond yachtstands proudly on a sofa table with glass-and-iron lantern-stylelamps on either side. "Added texture gives the room a loose,low-key feel," says Linda.

The bayside development The Colony presents a choice ofhousing styles and sizes―villas, coach homes, estate homes,and tower properties. One of four towers, the 20-story La Scalabuilding offers residents a designer-ready property―the shellcan be custom-finished to suit buyers' tastes. Walls can even shiftto suit floor plan needs, but plumbing locations are literally setin stone. Owners choose appliances, fixtures, and cabinets, as wellas flooring and trim styles, offering discriminatinghomeowners―and their interior designers―the flexibilitythey desire.