A Tropical Paradise

Sophisticated Clients And Their Design Team Collaborate To Create A Beautiful John’s Island Vacation Home With A Fresh Take On Tropical Design

Story Credits

James K. Gauthier and Susan Stacy, Gauthier-Stacy, Inc., Boston, MA
Francis Gray, Boston, MA
Clemens Bruns Schaub, Clemens Bruns Schaub Architect and Associates, P. A., Vero Beach, FL
John Huryn Construction, Inc., Vero Beach, FL
Landscape Architecture:
Neil Sickterman, Clemens Bruns Schaub Architect and Associates, P.A., Vero Beach, FL
Text by:
De Schofield
(View full image and details by clicking on picture)


When owners of this completely new, custom-built 6,500-square-foot home decided to return to John’s Island in Vero Beach, Fla., an idyllic barrier island that offers well-appointed residences with stunning ocean and river front views, they enlisted the help of interior design experts and their long-term friends of nearly two decades, Jim Gauthier and Susan Stacy.

Gauthier and Stacy first met the homeowners in the 1990s when the couple maintained a full-time residence on John’s Island. When they decided to return as seasonal residents, they invited the designers to search for potential homesites. As fate would have it, all of their selections were the work of Vero Beach-based architect Clemens Bruns Schaub. “We were well aware of Clem’s work throughout the Island, but had not yet had the pleasure of working with him,” Gauthier says. “Once we met, we all agreed that he was the perfect architect for the project.”

After narrowing the search to a handful of possibilities, Schaub and his clients were of one mind about a desirable site that overlooked the Intracoastal Waterway from a mangrove cove. They loved the privacy and solitude, and envisioned a residence that took maximum advantage of its unique, natural beauty,” the architect says.

Aptly named “Tropical Modern” by Schaub, the home’s style is a blend of features designed specifically to maximize the benefits of a hot, sultry climate. “Tropical homes are a passion of mine,” Schaub says. “The key is its orientation — a sensitivity to the environment and an awareness of climate, light and shade.”

Centering a courtyard and lap pool, a two-story area is composed of one sprawling master suite and balcony that serves to block the wind in winter, yet affords welcome breezes off the Intracoastal in the summer. “Clem has a really great understanding of how design flow works, and always knows the best location for breezes, views, sunlight and how to take advantage of them all,” Gauthier says.

Tall ceilings convey a greenhouse effect in the living room, while the upper clerestory adds lightness and verticality. A signature palette of neutrals that focus more on texture than color are defined in shades of white, cream and taupe with splashes of bright fuchsia and turquoise. Pale beige travertine flooring initiates in the elegant entryway, and continues throughout the main living areas and covered outdoor spaces. “We were going for colors and materials that were sophisticated, casual and appropriate to the area,” Gauthier says.

A centerpiece conversation grouping in the light-filled living space signifies the home’s eclectic, personalized decor. A pair of deep-seated, white linen-clad sofas by Holly Hunt borders an antique-mirror-finished cocktail table, while the clean lines of the custom-built fireplace counter the ornate Venetian mirror displayed above.

The eclectic theme continues in the dining room. Subtle architectural detailing adds a relaxed edge to a modernized version of classic millwork with pale taupe-painted walls bordered with a white, distressed finish. Gauthier-Stacy’s custom limed-oak dining table and Klismos-style chairs by Michael Taylor center the space. Close by, a buffet beneath an ebony and gold leaf-framed mirror by Ralph Lauren lends extra storage.

The spacious outdoor living pavilion expresses the home’s indoor-outdoor versatility with furnishings designed to withstand the elements. A social grouping of two teak sofas and a pair of armchairs imported from Bali are in perfect complement to the two iron-based tables with aged teak tabletops. The room’s focal point, a nod to nature itself, is a four-paneled painting entitled Ubiquity, custom designed by Schaub, to represent the four elements of earth, wind, water and fire.

The homeowners’ wish for relaxed, informal living prevails in a user-friendly environment and with two charming children’s guest rooms designed with their grandchildren in mind. In the bunk room, custom-built beds with center drawers that serve as a ladder lines one wall, while patterned fish artwork cleverly derived from fence pickets adorns the other. The guest bedroom — fresh in white with pops of Tiffany blue and bright pink – highlights a rustic-finished four-poster bed with whimsical bedposts nearby a clean-lined bedside chest.

With team members that all shared the same vision, the process was harmonious from the start to completion. “In order to create a great house you need a great client, and that was certainly the case here,” Schaub says. “The designers did a wonderful job to create a real sense of indoor-outdoor casual elegance that is reinforced throughout the home with furnishings.” The final result — a home that is truly beyond expectation.