Inside an Okeechobee Home on the Range

An addition to a ranch house in Okeechobee’s farm country gives a Florida family room to grow

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When Ramon and Georgina Corona decided to provide their sizeable family with more space to gather within a wide swath of ranchland in Okeechobee, there was one architect they were determined to hire. 

“Max Strang was the only person we wanted to work with when we decided to add the pool house and pool to our property,” says Ramon. “We had to ensure that the new additions would seamlessly integrate with the existing structure and harmonize with the terrain.” 

Given Strang was born just up the road in Polk County, Florida, the architect felt his sensibilities were primed for the job: “I was born for this project,” he says. 

The fact that the home is nestled into a grouping of oak trees that rise above a serpentine creek drove the design of the new 3,400-square-foot building. “We borrowed heavily from the existing residence and placed the new structure just the right distance away from the main house—still close by and convenient, but far enough away to maintain privacy,” explains Strang. “We used great restraint to ensure the building fit in, and we paid particular attention to where the main porch was, having it overlook the pool, the beautiful sunsets, and the oxbow in the creek.” 

Nature was also one of the main factors designer Briggs Edward Solomon considered when approaching the interiors. “I drew inspiration from the panoramas and the materials that were previously used while also incorporating some old primitive pieces and adding modern lines,” he explains. “It was important for me to honor the essence of the ranch, to embrace its unique character, and to incorporate elements that reflect its lifestyle and history. The result is a harmonious blend of the past and the present.” 

This nod to ranching is not a superficial one, as the Corona family raises cattle and horses on the land. “Ranching has been in my family for generations,” says Ramon. “It is not only a livelihood but an opportunity for the whole family to share in the responsibility of caring for the land and animals that live on it.” The Coronas view conservation as nothing short of a legacy and they relish the unique opportunity the land gives them to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The project architect on the Strang team, Marcela Arango, responded viscerally to the environment while working on-site. “Being able to design for open preservation land surrounded by cattle pens, hay bales, and a rushing creek was one of the most rewarding and incredible experiences of my career so far,” she explains. “Just incredible.” 

The ranching culture was just as inspirational for Strang: “A few months before we started, I was reading the novel A Land Remembered,” he says, “so the flavor of a family interacting with the Florida wilderness was in my head.”

Solomon salutes the congruity they all achieved by working together. “One of my favorite aspects of the home is its seamless integration with nature,” he says. “Max did a great job of creating a space that feels perfectly in sync with the countryside. His attention to detail in incorporating features such as large windows, open floor plans, and strategically placed outdoor living spaces allows for amazing views of the surroundings.” 

The homeowners say a particular attribute that resulted from the renovation is an experiential one. “The second-floor balcony, which offers a view that extends deep into the ranch, is one our favorite spots,” says Ramon. “This property has evolved from a place of tradition and ranching to a cherished home for our family. It is grounding and serves as a refuge from the fast-paced world. Time simply slows down here.”

Story Credits:

Architecture by Max Strang & Marcela Arango, Strang Design, Miami, Sarasota & Winter Haven, FL

Interior Design by Briggs Edward Solomon, Briggs Edward Solomon, Miami, FL

Text by Saxon henry

Photography by Kris Tamburello

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