A Captiva Beachfront Retreat

Overlooking The Gulf Of Mexico And Surrounded By Natural Beauty, This Home Is 'An Island Entire Of Itself'

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Imagine an unconventional vacation home that is picture-perfect, a lively hub for family fun, and yet also a quiet retreat. Creating just such a house in Captiva, Fla., overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, one that allows a full range of living experiences, proved to be a challenge and a joy for interior designer Anna Marks.

"I was given a program to design a 4,000-square-foot vacation dream home with an open floor plan," Marks says. "The owners wanted a secluded family retreat, where they could gather to entertain friends or get away from it all."

A bit of a contradiction in terms, but that's what makes Captiva Island so, well, captivating. Home of the Calusa Indians, haunt of pirate Jose Gaspar, and a little piece of heaven for Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Edna St. Vincent Millay, it has always offered that something special to anyone who has had the luck to find it.

"We wanted to take advantage of the beautiful Gulf views, and to provide a perfect setting to watch sunsets and enjoy the secluded beach," Marks says. Strategically placed grass and low shrubbery frame and shelter the rear grounds, where decks for sunbathing and outdoor dining, as well as cozy poolside chairs, invite family members to gather and catch up with each other.

In contrast to the sense of tranquility set by the serene landscape design, a gorgeous seascape dictates the open contemporary architecture and horizontal positioning of the home. Two floors of tinted fixed windows set in siding blend with nature to blur the transition between the inside and outside. A lattice-like wood shade mixes with a handsome steel-cable railing of horizontal bands that, in addition to serving a function, creates another dimension to enhance the side of the house.

Just inside, the main living space soars and flows, while unobtrusive pocket doors pull close to create an oasis for quiet time. Behind these milky-glass doors is an office and a small TV viewing room for the children.

Dictated by scale, furnishings in the living area include a sectional sofa custom upholstered in a luxurious off-white Sunbrella. "They can curl up and put their feet on the sofa without worrying about staining," the designer says. A swivel chair in charcoal linen by Kravet sits next to a custom oak occasional table designed by Marks, while stools of recycled timber double as cocktail tables. Translucent draperies were selected to be soft and airy, while diffusing light.

Nearby, an open kitchen and informal eating area serves as the heart of the home. "The idea was to have a centralized kitchen, where friends and family could be entertained while preparing a meal," Marks says. The millwork throughout the home was finished to match the Scavolini kitchen cabinetry that was set low to allow for gorgeous views in both directions. Strategically located between the kitchen and stairway, a two-story-high sculptural Redwood trellis creates a play of lights and shadows from sunrise to sunset.

"I toned the decor down to make the home livable and beachy — unpretentious, yet stylish and modern," Marks says. "It's understated and comfortable."

Interior Design
Anna Marks, Interior Atelier, Inc., Chicago, IL

Troy Campbell, Miami, FL

Architecture Consultant
Arden Freeman, Chicago, IL

Text by
Christine Davis