Key Largo Revival


A Well-Traveled Couple Finds A Place Of Solitude In This Grand Waterfront Residence That Captures The Essence Of The Tropics

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They say all good things come to those who wait and that certainly held true for the homeowners of this grand, 6,500-square-foot Ocean Reef residence in Key Largo, Fla. “My husband and I spent 10 years searching for the perfect waterfront property,” homeowner Diane Hill says. The original home was torn down and rebuilt from scratch, resulting in a place that captures the essence of the tropics. While the couple was hands-on in the process, it was the creative team of interior designer Edward Cox and architect Mitch Kunik along with his team of architects, who delivered excellence into every area of the home. “Mitch understood what we wanted, while Ed was diligent about the interiors — they listened to all of our quirky ideas,” Hill says.

Inside and out, the home resembles a tropical island retreat. Described by Kunik as a “rustic Caribbean” expression, it reflects the open, indoor-outdoor spaces that the owners wanted. “Mitch and I understood each other perfectly,” Cox says. “We knew exactly what the Hills’ wanted — indoor-outdoor spaces that connect with limited walls, and reflect the beauty of the landscape and water.” Geologists by profession, the well-traveled couple have enjoyed living in residences all over the world but have always had a penchant for the tropics.

A shell stone stairway leads from the dock to the back exterior, where walls clad in coral stone and metal elements stained to resemble teak wood are engineered to withstand the harsher elements. Nearly every room in the house opens to the outdoors. “We love all the open spaces, it is like having one big living area,” Hill says.

Throughout the interiors, eclectic elements are blended together effortlessly along with a backdrop of muted tones and intermittent splashes of color. “The interior of the house is really a reflection of the client,” Cox says. Dark woods and furnishings add warmth to the family room, from the tongue and groove wood-beam ceiling to the richness of wood details. A comfortable sectional sofa by McGuire clad in a natural toned, basket weave fabric offers contrast when paired with a custom-designed, brown leather cocktail table trimmed in nail heads. Situated by a lighthouse-like bay window in the dining area, is a custom walnut table surrounded by six chairs, all from Berman Rosetti.

In the kitchen, the marine motif continues with a backsplash of floating, 50-million-year-old fossil fish from Eostone that seems apropos for a couple who makes their living as geologists. An oversized center island custom designed by UMI is topped with a natural blue and white stone, which resembles an aerial view nautical map of Florida and the Bahamas. Traditional elegance is found in Ruffino’s cabinetry crafted with a mix of washed oak and dark walnut — organic woods that pull warmth into the space.

Eclectic style emanates from every corner of the living room. The designer started simply with a soft, light-gray linen sectional sofa from Christian Liaigre, and then infused the room with pops of color in bright orange pillows and a custom-designed cocktail table from ECI in a blue, giant agate stone pattern. Rope chairs from John Himmel are upholstered in an abstract blue fabric to lend a modern nautical touch. But the star of the space in the bar area is a mesmerizing 1,200-square-foot aquarium that abounds with vibrant color. “It’s my pride and joy, and was a prerequisite for the house,” Hill says.

After nearly two years in the making, the Hills were thrilled with the renovation. Collectively, Cox and Kunik’s team created the ultimate resort-style home … a perfect place to relax and entertain.

Interior Design
Edward Cox, Edward Cox Interiors (ECI), Miami, FL

Photography
Carlos Domenech, Coral Gables, FL

Architecture
Mitchell Kunik with Brian Collins, Matt Wheeler and Earl Willis, Affiniti Architects, Boca Raton, FL

Builder
Donald F. Garrett, D. Garrett Construction, Inc., Key Largo, FL

Landscape Architecture
Scott Windham, Windham Studio, Inc., Bonita Springs, FL

Text by
Regina Kaylie