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  Issue 20-1

  The Art of Living Naturally
Known For His Oceanfront Artistry, Developer Frank McKinney’s Magnificent Manalapan Manse Is Organic By Design


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Nilsa McKinney, Nilsa Design Services, Inc.,
Delray Beach, FL

Frank McKinney, Delray Beach, FL

Kim Mosley

Ed Butera, ©ibi Designs, Boca Raton, FL

Frank McKinney


Conceived as a sculptural water flower in full bloom, Acqua Liana is the newest creation of real estate “artist,” developer and five-time international best-selling author Frank McKinney.

Intrinsically charismatic and surprisingly down to earth, McKinney imbues a certain defiant touch to this 15,000-square-foot piece of tropical paradise set on 1.6 acres that hugs the edge of the sun-drenched Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway in the exclusive enclave of Manalapan Beach, Fla. Avoiding the dichotomy between the uber-wealthy and the environmentally astute, McKinney felt it was time to do something different.

“We’ve been building on the ocean since 1991 and have completed 36 projects … Key West style, French, plenty of Italian, Mediterranean and Spanish,” McKinney says. “They’re all beautiful, but I felt it was getting a bit tired.”

Following various trips to Bali, Fiji and Hawaii, McKinney decided a South Pacific style might just work on the sunny shores of South Florida. “If we can introduce a new style that is conducive to oceanfront living, I felt the risk was well worth taking. And at the same, it’s a style that lends itself to building green,” he says.

“Listen, I don’t hug trees every night or eat granola every morning. I have to make sure that going “green” sells … I have no desire to be a starving artist,” McKinney says. “But I really do feel we are way ahead of the curve when it comes to the ultra-wealthy being hyper conscious of the carbon footprint they are leaving … it’s not about greed, excess and consumption for the majority.”

"From the first step, one instantly feels the tranquility of an island retreat. A golf-course grass driveway winds through a lush water garden past cascading waterfalls, arched bridges, plunge pools and sparkling fountains toward this Manalapan manse set between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway."

Just inside beautiful custom entry gates, one is instantly transported to a tranquil island retreat replete with meandering water gardens, wooden walkways, plunge pools, reflecting ponds and flowing fountains. Coral steps up to a bamboo courtyard entrance grounded with green marble from Paraguay.

Step through a 1,200-pound, steel door-in-a-door wrapped in bamboo — clearly an architectural masterpiece — and the magic continues. The first-ever glass water floor sparkles above hand-painted tiles in a lotus garden motif. A 24-foot water wall looks through the foyer to a view of the ocean.

Here, energy-efficient mood lighting and special effects illuminate the floor and outdoor reflecting pond beyond. Mist furthers the ambiance beneath a Chihuly-inspired chandelier that appears to melt into the water floor.

“We wanted clear views everywhere you look,” McKinney says. “Turn your head west and you see the Intracoastal off the dining room. Turn your head east and you see the ocean off the Grand Salon.” And the furniture is environmentally responsive as well. “Nilsa, my wife, picked out and designed everything we see,” he says. “We’ve been together 23 years, married 20 years. We’ve been together since that first $50,000 fixer-upper back in 1986.” He concedes it’s a yin-and-yang relationship, no doubt. “But there’s plenty of discussion and debate — sometimes heated,” he says. “I like to compare it to the activity just beneath the crust of the earth — the force and energy produces a diamond.

” And what a gem they have created. The Grand Salon is fashioned with a sinuous, two-sided sofa custom designed by Nilsa. “Sit this way and you’re facing the ocean and a fireplace with a dancing fire strip that lights up the mother-of-pearl wall treatment,” he says. “Sit the opposite way and you’re looking at a four-sided glass wine room and a centerpiece 2,000-gallon arched aquarium wet bar with over 100 tropical exotic fish and all man-made coral. Walk through the archway with fish swimming overhead into a spacious family room and oceanfront kitchen with a matching catering kitchen nearby. Here, huge bamboo beams accent the ceiling. “I picked through piles and piles to find bamboo that thick,” McKinney says. “And the cabinetry is all Koa wood, native only to Hawaii — it grows very rapidly in Hawaii, nowhere else. We had to get express permission to take it off the island.” The granite countertops came straight out of the ground with ruby red aggregates and flecks of silver mica.

On the other side of the house, comfort reigns in a 2,100-square-foot master suite and separate sitting area. Here, the gallery-like art hallway leads the way to the oceanfront sleeping chamber and the most impressive room in the manse — her bathroom. Wrapped in pink onyx from Pakistan, the oceanview shower exudes the feeling of showering outdoors, while a reclaimed mahogany tub, handcrafted by a retired boat builder from Maine, offers a spot for quiet repose.

Luxury continues with exotic flooring such as cork and tropical hardwoods including coconut, bamboo, palmwood and reclaimed teak that grounds the manse, while a doublehelix glass stairway spirals up past a floor-to ceiling Asian water garden mural to an oceanfront office and four bedrooms all equipped with individual baths, walk-in closets and waterview balconies.

Other amenities include two hydraulic elevators, three laundry rooms, a media room, a high-tech home automation/bio-feedback system and an oversized garage with windows that peer into the swimming pool.

Back outside, the courtyard is quite the setting fashioned with a 9-foot-deep, disappearing-edge pool and floating sun terrace. Just beyond, massive moose pole pine columns — all with character markings made by the antlers of migrating moose — shape an oceanfront kitchen terrace and cocktail bale entertainment area complete with a refrigerator, wet bar, ice maker, gas grill, TV and an al fresco eating area.

Nearby, a 16-person fire spa sits right outside a two-bedroom, two-bath guest house wrapped in bamboo. “When you get out of the spa you can actually just step right down the stones and take a walk through the water garden,” McKinney says.

The source of the water originates up top from the spa area, where a waterfall cascades down to create a swimmable plunge pool right outside the guest house, then meanders like a lazy river under arched bridges, past an island palapa deck, and around coconut palms and real bamboo. “I went to the nurseries myself and picked out all of the trees,” McKinney says. “There are over 180 palm trees, most with what we call character trunks.” The landscaping itself cost $375,000 and that doesn’t include the golf-course grass driveway.

“Acqua Liana is the first ultra-luxury home to obtain triple green certification and my thumbprint is on every square inch,” McKinney says. “Nature at its best — isn’t that the purest form of artistry?” For information, visit www.frank-mckinney.com.

Click Here to View Interior Design Sources

A Christian Glass & Mirror Co., Delray Beach, FL
Advanced Wood Floors, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL
Atlantic Metal Finishing, Sunrise, FL
Bluworld Innovations LLC, Orlando, FL
Boca Flasher, Boca Raton, FL
C & A Hardwood Flooring, Inc., Boynton Beach, FL
Capitol Lighting, Boca Raton, FL
Carpet Designs Unlimited, Delray Beach, FL
Dee Griffin Earthworks, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL
Floridian Gateworks, Inc., Tequesta, FL
Genesis Automation, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FL
Glass and Glass, Miami, FL
Gordon Hamm Landscape Design, Inc., Delray Beach, FL
Great Gutters LLC, Boynton Beach, FL
JR Mirror & Glass, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL
Keys Granite, Boynton Beach, FL
Leighton Decorating With Colour, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL
Loewen Window Center of Florida, Dania Beach, FL
Magnificent Aquariums, Boca Raton, FL
Marble Art & Granite, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Marieanne's Wallpaper, Delray Beach, FL
Miller's Custom Metals, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Nortic Designs Upholstery, Boca Raton, FL
Nye Portfolio, Inc., Boca Raton, FL
Palm Beach Classic Hardware, Inc., North Palm Beach, FL
Pearce Windows & Doors, Inc., Boynton Beach, FL
Petersendean Roofing & Solar Systems, West Palm Beach, FL
Richard's Fine Woodwork, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Rock Woodworks, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Scott Robertson Decorative Painting, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Sewell Hardware Company, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL
Sinclair Engineering Company, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Smith & DeShields Inc., Boca Raton, FL
Solarus USA, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Stu Clark Wallpaper Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sun Solar Pools & Spas, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Teresa Rivera Draperies and Bedding, Boca Raton, FL
The Bushel Stop, Inc., Lake Worth, FL
Tile & Marble by Valentin, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
Tropical Creations LLC, Wellington, FL
Wood King Cabinets and Furniture, Boynton Beach, FL



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