The allure of Captiva Island, nestled just offshore of Southwest Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, hooked a Chicago family that longed for a subtropical vacation home where relatives and friends might gather. Upon finding the perfect lot that was long, linear, lush with vegetation and teaming with native wildlife, the couple commissioned architects Randall Stofft and John Cooney, builder Scott Weidle, and interior designer Lana Knapp to turn their dreams into reality. Even though a nesting bald eagle pair sent the construction crew into a four-month holding pattern according to Weidle, this dedicated team still delivered the expansive home — comprised of 5,700 interior square feet plus an additional 13,700 square feet of open-air living space — within the 20-month window initially projected.
With Old Florida elegance in mind, Cooney designed this home with seamed metal roofs supported with corbels and brackets, and deep porches with wide overhangs that are all reminiscent of Florida’s early settlers’ cottages. In prelude to the interior scheme, Knapp chose to color the shutters and wooden awnings to reflect the tone-on-tone blues of the sky and surrounding Gulf waters.
A shellstone walkway leads the way alongside the pool and steps up to a veranda-style entrance framed with palm fronds swaying in the sultry breeze. Inside, family and friends are instantly transported to a tranquil island retreat as Knapp continues with an Old Florida sensibility. Mixing off white with pale gray to mirror the natural environment, the designer selected finish materials to withstand sand and water. She chose wide plank flooring in a driftwood finish and incorporated tongue-in-groove ceilings throughout.
The soothing palette flows into the open kitchen and dining area, where flashes of cobalt blue are captured in glass pieces arranged in upper-level display shelving. Cabinetry that flanks the custom-designed hood actually hangs over windows that bring in sunlight to dance off shimmering surfaces. “I chose a white mosaic backsplash made of Asian statuary marble,” Knapp says. “The oversized Sapienstone Bianco slabs on two center islands have the look of a pristine white marble, but it’s actually porcelain, making it virtually care free.”
In the great room, furnishings invite large gatherings yet simultaneously suggest intimate moments when viewing stunning sunsets. Built-in niches house a collection of hand-blown and glass pieces, while a calming canvas echoes sky, land and sea.
At day’s end, the homeowners retreat to their third-floor master suite, where a Caribbean-style balcony with Chippendale fretwork railings, and full-length windows with transom detail frame sparkling water views. Designed by Knapp, a voluminous tongue-in-groove ceiling with open beams towers above the space, while soothing ivory, cream, gray and blue hues reflect the tranquility of the setting. “The Gulf water is more of a soft blue,” the designer says. “I brought those soft blues into the master bedroom and bath, and most of the private spaces.”
Indoors or out, the homeowners relish sunset views while pondering what tomorrow’s adventures will bring … be it kayaking in the bay or a day trip boating in the Gulf of Mexico. “They can literally walk from the boat dock outside their home directly into the main entertainment areas,” Knapp says.
Flocks of white pelicans gracefully glide in to congregate nearby as family and friends enjoy cocktails on the loggia. The native pelicans and bald eagles are part of Captiva Island’s universal appeal. “This is a classic example of Old Florida architecture that works with the natural environment,” Cooney says.