St. Lucia, FL — Although this two-story St. Lucia, FL penthouse condominium offered a breathtaking view of the ocean, it couldn’t be fully appreciated since it wasn’t fully visible. Its rooms were also relatively small and their configuration wasted a lot of valuable space. Plus, low ceilings made the space feel dark.
Given its shortcomings, Brittney Mendez and Ivonne McCormick knew the residence needed a complete overhaul to transform it into the home their clients envisioned as a family get-away from their primary dwelling in Boston.
“The family is laid back with an easy-going lifestyle and our goal was to develop all the features the family needed, while providing the coastal contemporary look they desired,” indicates Mendez, interior designer/Allied ASID, The Lykos Group, in Naples, FL.
The transformation began with a desire to open up the floorplan, which meant moving the stairway that blocked the all-important view. Since the unit is built with a post-tension concrete slab, the designers worked with engineers to coordinate drilling locations for new plumbing, drain pipes and mechanical fastenings. They also raised or eliminated several 7′ dropped ceilings, enlarged windows where possible and enclosed two lanais to gain more indoor living space.
“The unit was essentially stripped to its bare bones,” says McCormick, principal/cabinet designer, High Tide Cabinetry & Design in Fort Myers, FL. “It was a very humbling and difficult process, but it allowed us to completely redesign it to be as efficient and as spacious as possible so it could more functionally meet their needs.”
The stairway relocation set the stage by allowing the focus to be on the ocean view. The new version appears to float with open risers, wood treads that are stained to match the wide-plank European white oak kitchen floor (Legno Bastone’s Dolce Vita Diamante) and glass railings, including a curved railing in the second-floor loft.
“It was a huge undertaking, but it was worth it because the view was the main point of the whole design,” Mendez relates.
Keeping it sleek
A second focal point is the kitchen, where white acrylic cabinetry from Harmoni Kitchens brightens the room. Its high-gloss finish reflects the view and establishes a contemporary design style more commonly seen on the state’s east side.
“When we first met, our client said she wanted a Miami vibe,” says McCormick. “It’s actually very unique for our area on the West coast. Our clients often think they want a sleek contemporary look, but when we begin to select finishes, they hesitate.”
However, this client remained steadfast. To further the streamlined appearance, the designers paneled most of the appliances, including the Miele refrigerator and freezer columns, Miele dishwasher and Marvel beverage refrigerator. Even the Faber ventilation hood is concealed, tucked behind two panels that seamlessly blend with the functional cabinets to each side. Only the Miele speed oven, Plum wine dispenser and Miele induction range are visible.
“It seemed like every time I talked to Brittney, they wanted more appliances!” recalls McCormick. “But we worked diligently to incorporate all of them and maintain a good flow. Paneling most of the appliances also integrates them into the design so they don’t stand out.”
Special cabinetry features include base cabinets to either side of the range that look like drawers but are actually single doors. Specialty inserts accommodate cooking utensils and spices. Stainless steel-framed wall cabinets with lift-up doors and frosted glass inserts above the bar and Franke sink reinforce the Miami vibe. The latter are custom crafted to not only provide storage, but also conceal mechanicals that were moved during the renovation.
“We made some cabinet boxes shorter and doors taller to accommodate ductwork so we could minimize soffits,” McCormick explains.
Plenty of counter space
At the kitchen’s heart is an oversized, 10′-plus island, which is a feature rarely seen in condominiums.
“In general, condos usually have a very limited space for kitchens,” notes Mendez. “But by taking over the former breakfast nook area and integrating it into the kitchen, we were able to create a relatively large kitchen with a large island.”
With regard to storage, it features an abundance of deep drawers on one side and doors, opened via touch latch, on the other.
The island’s uninterrupted top provides plenty of continuous work space, which was important given the kitchen’s relatively segmented perimeter.
“We have some dedicated, segmented work spaces, such as the sink, range and bar areas,” McCormick says, explaining that their existence was critical for ensuring adequate storage and maintaining symmetry. “While we don’t usually like to create smaller work spaces, the oversized island compensates for that. Our clients aren’t likely to ever run out of counter space since the island is one pure piece. Plus, it’s great for entertaining.”
Since the unit is a vacation home, Mendez suggested Caesarstone’s Empira White quartz as the countertop to minimize maintenance. Its white hue furthers the clean, bright and airy look while its mitered edge detail gives it ‘heft.’
To maintain the kitchen’s sleek design, they created cabinetry end panel ‘columns’ to allow outlets to be more seamlessly integrated into the cabinet design.
“We didn’t want to destroy the clean look of the kitchen by having outlets in the end panels,” McCormick explains.
Outlet placement beneath the wall cabinetry was also a consideration, with the designers opting to position them horizontally and close to the countertop surface.
“We wanted them as low as possible to improve functionality, but we didn’t want to see them,” Mendez explains, noting that they blend relatively seamlessly into the stacked Lunada Bay Tile Tomei Modules glass backsplash tiles.
Final details include Polished Chrome Rejuvenation and Top Knobs cabinetry hardware and Grohe plumbing fixtures, which complement the Restoration Hardware linear chandelier above the island.
“Chrome provides reflective characteristics,” says Mendez, “and it also leans more towards the blue tones we wanted.” ▪
Like the kitchen, the primary bathroom needed extensive renovation, in part because of its outdated elements as well as a desire for more space. Brittney Mendez and Ivonne McCormick addressed the size issue by stealing a bit of ‘dead’ hallway space that led from the primary bedroom to its ensuite bathroom, thereby giving them the ability to create a larger, open-concept room.
With regard to product and finish updates, the designers focused on a repeated client request for a contemporary Miami vibe, reinterpreted with bolder elements compared to the kitchen. For example, heavily veined, marble-effect, large-format Atlas Concorde porcelain tiles clad the shower walls, the upper portion of the vanity wall, an accent wall and the bathroom floor to envelop the homeowners in a sea of ‘stone.’
As a complement and a contrast, dark Pompeii quartz tops the Harmoni Kitchens vanity, painted in a Cotton hue. The surface material’s waterfall edge and thick profile reinforce the distinction. A trough-style sink, accented with dual Brizo wall-mount faucets, serves as a reinterpretation of his/her sinks that also provides more countertop space.
The blue Market Collection flute-stacked glass tile backsplash adds a touch of color to the otherwise neutral palette and extends into the shower to highlight the niche.
A quartz bench, which matches the vanity top, and Kohler shower fixtures combine to create a luxurious shower experience.