From Italy, With Love

Old World Meets New In This Modern Rendition Of An Italian Villa, And The Result Is Pure Amore
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When it's love, you just know. That was the case when the lady of this particular house met her husband; she knew from their first date that she would marry him. The same happened when she first laid eyes on this magnificent Fort Lauderdale, Fla., property overlooking Sunrise Bay. And although at the time, only a third of a structure stood upon it and the lawn was overgrown, she saw its potential and fell head over heels. Despite her husband declaring her "a bit crazy" (they'd nearly completed the final work on their current residence several blocks away), she simply knew she had to live there.

Architect Krsto Stamatovski joined interior designers Susan Connor, Julie Harris and Marisa Courson, who the couple had already enlisted for their previous residence, and the team set to work on creating a home that would celebrate the couple's ardor for villas along the Italian countryside. "We have an appreciation for many things beautiful, but chose the Italian feel because it's what we're comfortable with," says the wife, who frequently travels to Italy with her Roman husband.

Pinpointing a design direction was easy: they wanted an Old World feel. But re-interpreting it for modern-day living presented a challenge. "They desired a home that was influenced by the past without pretending to recreate it," Stamatovski says. To ensure the home's authenticity, the architect worked strictly with natural materials, such as stone for the balustrades, windowsills and surrounds, and handmade clay tiles for the roof.

And then, just as the main house was nearing completion, the owners acquired the adjoining property — and their house went from stately to sprawling, with an additional area that allocates a space to entertain guests. An enormous clubroom features rich fabrics and neutral colors, enabling family and friends to gather in a refined, comfortable setting. The seating is ample, from a classic sofa and two leather-backed lounge chairs, to a pair of club chairs and two caramel-leather footstools. A Mediterranean-style area rug lies beneath a wood and marble cocktail table, completing the welcoming space, while a bar and billiard table allow for fun and games.

"We softened some of the elements of a European villa to embody the livability of a modern American home," Connor says. Harris and Courson introduce a rustic feel with a maple wood-beamed ceiling with a walnut stain, faux-painted with scrollwork.

Intricately laid glass mosaic tiles placed over crema marfil marble from Marble of the World beautifully adorns the master bath. The ornate floor detail might be mistaken for an opulent rug, while the resplendent, geometric wall inset could easily bedeck a palace.

Over in the main wing, a splendorous shift occurs. "The master suite serves as an opulent sanctuary apart from the rest of the home," says Connor, whose generous use of golden-toned fabrics makes this entire master bedroom appear dusted with the precious metal. Here, Connor draped the ceiling in gold-colored silk and wrapped formal cornices in damask, adding swags, jabots and a tassel fringe for softness. Leather-upholstered panels on the headboard wall create a more masculine focal point. Open the hand-carved mahogany doors leading to the master bath and it's like stumbling upon a treasure trove. Crema marfil marble glosses the floors and walls, while the barrel ceiling gleams with bronzed faux finish. Delicate light fixtures augment the room's freestanding copper tub.

Outside, the transition is effortless. "We followed our concept of comfortable, livable furnishings from the interior to outdoors," Connor says of the loggia, which is like a living room with the added benefit of water and sky. "We continued many of the same materials from the interior, like the stone flooring and beamed ceilings, and let the architecture and views do the rest," Harris elaborates.

Classic architecture, the use of authentic materials and the owners' relaxed attitude can only mean this house will mature gracefully, and keep getting better as time goes by. Kind of reminds us of love itself.

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Interior Design
Susan Connor, Julie Harris and Marisa Courson, P&H Interiors, Inc., Coral Springs, FL

Michael Wall, Pompano Beach, FL

Krsto Stamatovski, Studio K Architects, Boca Raton, FL

Scott Godoy, Summit Builders of Florida, Inc., Lighthouse Point, FL

Landscape Architecture
Thomas Pascuzzo, Ultimate Landscape, Inc., Boynton Beach, FL

Text by
Robin Hodes