Modern Composition

One Renowned Architectural Team Designs A Contemporary Riverfront Home That Embraces An Active Family's Lifestyle
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An architectural masterpiece with a distinctive cubist context, the style of this Stuart, Fla., residence recalls a Picasso canvas. "It's a straightforward design — modern, clean and pure," says the husband, a CEO of a real estate development firm. He and his wife, a jewelry-designer who also has a talent for interior decorating, desired waterfront property in Stuart for themselves and their three children. "We are native Northeasterners who lived here when we were teens," the husband says. "We returned after college because Stuart is a hidden gem — a great place to raise a family."

For the homesite, the couple targeted Sewall's Point, an area just outside Stuart with small town charm and waterfront views of the St. Lucie and Indian Rivers. For architectural expertise they turned to renowned modern expressionist, architect Scott Hughes. "We generally love modern style and have always admired Scott's and his partner John Umbanhowar's work," the husband says.

The architect accompanied his clients to several lots in Sewall's Point until they selected a two-acre site with views of the Indian River. Articulated in limestone, glass and stucco, the spacious three-story, 12,300-square-foot manse features a glass-enclosed wedge that bridges an adult and children's wing. In addition, a walkout basement is outfitted with a fitness center, sauna and media room, but also with enough space for the wife's jewelry design materials and their children's video games and crafts.

From the outset, the wife took charge of the interior's decor by selecting the furnishings, artwork and accent pieces, working closely with the architects. "My husband and I love modern architecture, but we wanted to make sure that when we used a cool material such as stainless steel, that we softened it with a warm material like wood," she says.

Outside on the shaded patio, a circular glass-topped table echoes the round cutout shape of Ipe wood flooring from Absolute Hardwood Flooring. Stepping inside through wide glass doors, the soaring dining areas sleek leather-covered chairs from Bernhardt frame a Christian Liaigre wood table. "Since both tables will be used for large family gatherings, we wanted the indoor and outdoor dining spaces to relate to each other," the wife says.

French limestone flooring in the dining space transitions seamlessly to the living room, where an assemblage of mid-century classics paired with custom-designed pieces and cherished artwork complement the home's modern theme. The "Tango" sofa from Casa Italia is warmed by a dark wood cocktail table and backed with a painting by world-renowned artist Hung Liu. The main conversation grouping also features a pair of Mies van der Rohe "Barcelona" chairs and twin ottomans clad in cream-toned leather.

Continuing in the breakfast room, cream-toned leather wraps the 1950s-inspired, diamond-tufted banquette. Overhead, a stunning Murano glass chandelier designed by Philippe Starck lends elegance. "My husband and I were so drawn to this piece that we created the entire space around it," the wife says.

The adjacent kitchen, a favorite family meeting spot, features a walnut island with a cantilevered countertop and a pair of smooth benches in dark oak that provide much needed flexible seating. "The wood softens and contrasts with the glossy cabinetry," the wife says.

Upstairs in the master bedroom, where simplicity is the key design, neutral tones and an understated leather-clad platform bed add sophistication to the space. A view from the classic Eames lounge chair through a wide floor-to-ceiling window lends the feel of living high in the treetops. "We wanted this to be a place to enjoy our water views from above," the wife says.

In the adjoining master bath, the architect's custom-designed "floating" vanities allow the couple to have their own space, yet still be near enough to chat. Clean crisp walls and flooring covered in white marble, a more formal look than the rest of the home, are warmed with dark wenge wood cabinetry.

Simultaneously, the owners and designers created a modern home in a natural setting unique to the Treasure Coast. "This is one of our favorite projects … a great couple and a great site," Hughes says. "It was a satisfying collaboration, one that began without preconceived ideas or directives from the owners and proceeded along as a creative journey that we took together."

Scott Hughes and John Umbanhowar, Hughes Umbanhowar Architects, Hobe Sound, FL, and Venice, CA

Steven Brooke, Miami, FL

Elias Management & Construction, West Palm Beach, FL

Landscape Architecture
Jane Krebs, Lucido & Associates, Stuart, FL

Text by
De Schofield