David Allyn’s family roots in Naples date back to 1946, back to the days when the city barely had a page’s worth of phone numbers. That’s when Allyn’s great-grandfather purchased a two-story, shingle-sided house on Tenth Avenue that would become home to later generations who came to the Gulf Coast to escape harsh New York winters and create memories in the Florida sunshine. Through the years, the elements and the wear and tear that comes with renting a property began to take their toll. When a new generation mulled over whether to sell or keep it, those who voted to buy drew straws to determine the winner. As luck would have it, it was David and his wife, Amy, who got to keep the keys.
“We rented it here and there, yet we knew all along that we needed to do a serious renovation,” says Amy. “But there were big questions about what kind of renovation we’d do. So many people were doing teardowns and we knew we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to keep the home’s integrity, so we decided to redecorate and remodel as much as we could.”
Because the home is recognized by the Naples Historical Society and the National Register of Historic Places, the Allyns worked with Jon Kukk of Kukk Architecture and Design to reinvigorate their family gem in a historically sensitive way.
“It’s worth the effort to preserve the architecture in these houses, even if you don’t have a family connection,” says Kukk. “This project was a balance of adapting for the future while honoring the past.”
Some of the main architectural improvements Kukk and his team worked on included a small addition on the back of the home that gave the Allyns space for a new bedroom, bath, and upstairs laundry room. In order to open up the kitchen and make it more functional, Kukk closed the front staircase, which also allowed him to create a larger primary suite, and then install a new staircase in the back.
“That tore at my husband because he was so used to walking in the front door and running up that staircase,” says Amy. “Sometimes he still heads for the staircase, but then he remembers there’s a wall there now.”
When it came to design matters, the couple enlisted designer Jennifer Sloan to infuse the interiors with a look that can best be described as lived-in, family-friendly, and Florida chic. To that end, Sloan went room to room with the mission of creating a timeless vibe with comfortable furniture that’s perfect for lounging, and layers of textures that give the home a well-traveled and collected feel.
As the design team worked, the Allyns turned their attention to the small ranch home on a corner lot next door, which at the time was owned by an elderly couple. The Allyns knew the house would inevitably come up for sale and were concerned about a buyer coming in, knocking the property down and then building a massive structure that would overlook their backyard and disturb their sight lines. To prevent that, they were the first to call when the house became available and ended up acquiring it.
“We originally started thinking about that home in a protective sense,” says Amy. “But then we fell in love with it. Our home has four bedrooms, but it is somewhat modest and small. So having the home next door became perfect for when we had family or friends come to visit.”
To their surprise, the acquisition benefitted the Allyns, as well as the neighborhood.
“When we were in different stages of the project, there were neighbors who’d come by and thank us for [preserving the integrity of the] neighborhood,” says Amy. “I’m not sure that we ever thought about what we were doing as being for the neighborhood too, but it was remarkable to me how many people came by and were so appreciative. Everything turned out as it should.”
Interiors by Jennifer Sloan, Design & Company, Inc., Naples, FL
Renovation Architecture by Jon Kukk, Kukk Architecture and Design, Naples, FL
Builder Easterly Building Company, Naples, FL
Text by Paige Bowers
Photography Lori Hamilton, Naples, FL