Splendid Integration

A Blend Of Tropical And Contemporary Architecture Warmed By Natural Materials Shapes One Couple's Dream In Boca Raton
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When a well-traveled couple decided to build a unique home in southeast Florida, the gods were with them. They found a 270° finger of land on the Intracoastal Waterway in Boca Raton and it was love at first "site." Scenic water vistas and lushly vegetated parks fired their imagination. What a bounty of views they envisioned for the home they would build. "This is a unique site and the client is a very educated consumer who owns multiple homes," architect Mitch Kunik says. And while he was referring more to the high-profile husband who was hands-on throughout the planning and building, the wife was also duly involved.

By the time Kunik and partner Benjamin Schreier, joined the team for the architecture, the site was already purchased and builder Rene Alonso was on board. Interior designer Curtis House soon joined them. Affiniti Architects had worked with House in the past. "We wanted someone with knowledge of different specialty materials, and ways to put them together and be architecturally joined," Kunik says. House was that person.

The design team and clients met to explore different styles of architecture, actualizing their ideas with the use of Affiniti's 3-D equipment to create the concept for a dream home. The couple's new two-story, 10,000-square-foot house would be a blend of tropical and contemporary architecture warmed by natural materials. Concurrently, the overriding aspect was to integrate the inside and exterior spaces.

One of the most striking examples of integration is the pool area. Glass mosaic tiles line a curvilinear trough that adds unexpected impact through a series of small fountains rising from its water. Walkways shaped of coquina stone and exotic Ipe wood lead the way to separate entertaining venues that define the outdoor area. Here, the horizon pool actually appears as one fluid entity with the Intracoastal Waterway. The pool speaks "fun in the sun" with an integral spa, beach entry and inside water seating. Nearby, walls of glass reflect the views, while a second-story cantilevered brise soleil offers shade and harkens to the prominent use of wood inside.

"With most of the millwork, surfaces, architectural lighting, ceiling plans, built-ins and space planning complete, we had the inside of the house established," House says. It was time to decorate. Because the wife had established a bond with her Colorado interior designer, Amy Casey, she invited Amy to join the team primarily to select furnishings and decorative lighting. "We were all aligned with the vision," Casey says. "With email, Skype and visits, we made it work. We all had a passion for the design."

Indeed, the home is infinitely well designed with its rounded shape inspired by the natural curve of the site. It is also thoughtfully zoned with spaces that open to the water. Inside, the entry is the genesis of a two-sided great room that incorporates a game area, full bar and an intimate social grouping perfectly positioned to enjoy the water views. A stunning sapele wood-framed stairway draws the eye in around the space. The first stair of this sinuous masterpiece is actually cantilevered and lit from below. Then following the bold application of sapele virtually framing the stairway, House repeated the wood in a slim, curved air conditioning diffuser in the ceiling above. In gleaming contrast to the abundance of wood, polished-limestone flooring flows selectively throughout the home.

But wood dominates most areas, including the media room with its sapele wood flooring underfoot and a suspended grid ceiling above. Each of the grid openings is framed with two-inch-thick sapele and harbors indirect lighting. "House and I worked very carefully to get wood to work inside and out, and carry on with other materials," Kunik says. "There is a consistency, but every space is unique."

Concurrently, the dining room ceiling consists of sapele-wood slats that complement the handsome glass dining table with its twisted wood bases. Nearby, a grand-scaled kitchen that runs the full width of the house enjoys a floating buffet and breakfast area. It also uses wood differently. Wenge wood cabinetry, for example, is topped with inch-thick petrified barnacle wood in sleek contrast to a horizontal stainless steel hood and majestic mosaic. With room to walk through and around, and incorporating every component imaginable that a great chef might covet, the kitchen is the sensation the owners desired.

"What made everything work is that the husband was basically the architecture guy and the wife was the interiors person," Kunik says. "We didn't have one person driving a house." Most importantly, everyone had fun with this entire project. The clients knew what they wanted and the team delivered.

Interior Design
Curtis House, Louis Anthony & Associates, Boca Raton, FL

Mike Butler, Sunny Isles, FL

Interior Design Consultant
Amy Casey, formerly of Slifer Designs, Edwards, CO

Mitch Kunik and Benjamin Schreier, Affiniti Architects, Boca Raton, FL

Rene Alonso, Alonso & Associates, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL

Landscape Architecture
Krent Wieland, Krent Wieland Design, Inc., Delray Beach, FL

Text by
Roberta Klein