Michelle loved living in London. So did her husband, Jan. The idea of leaving the bustling capital city with its rich history, museums, and entertainment venues never entered their minds. Their family was thriving, they had just renovated their home, and all was well with their world.
Then came COVID-19 and everything changed.
“After the pandemic hit, the lockdown conditions were strict. We were only able to leave our house once a day, which was very bizarre,” Michelle says. “With no end in sight, it just made sense for us to relocate to the vacation home we were already building in Florida.”
Windsor had come into the picture a few years earlier when the couple decided to sell their Islamorada vacation house and build one in a community that could offer the family more opportunities to engage in a variety of activities.
That’s when Michelle recalled reading a fashion pictorial in Vogue magazine featuring Windsor and model Dree Hemingway. Horses in the background brought back memories of her growing-up years in Kentucky.
More importantly, she had met individuals connected with The Gallery at Windsor while attending Frieze London, a contemporary art fair held every October in Regent’s Park. For Michelle, an art history major who worked in product design and development in the fashion industry, it was a coming together of like minds.
Through the years, both she and Jan had acquired a variety of appealing artworks. She planned to make sure these pieces found a special place in their new house, along with treasured furnishings.
Thanks to Merrill, Pastor and Colgan Architects, the family’s two-story, five-bedroom home is everything they wanted. With a westward view overlooking the lap pool and golf links, sunsets are a cause for applause.
Michelle, who organized the entire move online and enrolled her daughter in Saint Edward’s School, began to thoughtfully curate their belongings to shine in new spaces.
“We wanted an eclectic home that was cozy and homey, but also current, where everyone could gather during holidays,” she says, “and one that is playful enough for a preteen child—hence the pool table/dining table combo, outdoor Ping-Pong in the front courtyard, the lacrosse bounce back, and the breakfast/game table. I also wanted things to be old and new. I guess you could say ‘things that have some soul.’”
So let’s take a tour and see how Michelle achieved all these objectives, starting on the main level, in what she describes as “one contiguous space for living, dining, and cooking.” Four graphics by Georg Baselitz hang on a wall near the kitchen. Purchased by Jan’s father in the 1960s, they are timeless treasures.
In one corner, a banquette and a table with a gold palm tree base, along with a small straight-backed chair, form a perfect place to do homework, play games, or curl up with
The same holds true across the room, where a sink-into leopard-print club chair is nestled next to a pencil reed side table. Arranged on top are books Michelle wants to read or share with her daughter. “My daughter will often have breakfast there, my husband has his coffee; it’s a perfect quiet space,” she says.
Completing the vignette is an eye-catching mixed-media piece with a bright yellow three-dimensional frame by American artist Borna Sammak, who, according to his artsy.net biography, uses “kitsch, glitch, and pop culture as source material.”
“We had a great friend in London who was a collector of works created by emerging artists. I was at London Frieze with him, where I met an art dealer. We formed a relationship, which is how I found the artist.”
A large, curved sofa on one side of the room invites togetherness, yet Michelle admits she’s not yet satisfied with the arrangement. “I’m working on making the sofa area cozier, as I really grew to love the snug idea while living in London.”
Coziness is key throughout the house. So is charm, as evidenced in her daughter’s bedroom, where the timeless elegance of wallpaper commands center stage.
“We were looking for wallpaper, and she chose this design with birds and flowers as her favorite. We wanted a room that felt very English, and her wish won out,” says Michelle, who had been looking for something a little more sophisticated but is nonetheless pleased with the results.
“The wallpaper and curtains are the same, and the closet jib doors are wallpapered, creating a seamless look. The two chairs came from our house in Islamorada.”
More wallpaper from Cole & Son, a traditional British firm, can be seen in the bunk room. Originally purchased for the London house but never used, it found a home in Windsor. “I think it works perfectly in this space,” a pleased Michelle muses. “The mirror is an antique my husband purchased at the Paris Flea Markets before he met me, the wicker was a consignment shop find, and the chaise lounge was in our living room in London.”
In another bedroom, a large model sailboat is perched on a high shelf in the corner. Like so many things, it, too, has a story. “My husband bought it a long time ago on a summer trip to the East Frisian Islands. It has traveled well with us.”
Other items that spoke to Michelle can be found throughout the residence. A modern lighting fixture, consisting of a handblown glass pendant surrounded by a flexible hoop attached with tightly strung ribbons, adds motion and dimension to the second-floor landing. Nearby, a digitally altered image of the Pont du Gard in the South of France, by German artist Lukas Roth, is intended to capture a memory from a moment in time.
One can’t easily forget the graphic print stating “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” in the entrance foyer. Michelle found it during a foray to Frieze London. “I was with an art dealer who was talking to me about German artist Walter Dahn, and when I saw it, I laughed. It just captured me.”
One of Michelle’s favorite places to spend time is on the swing in the lanai. Above a window, seven faux turtle shells, originally intended for a rental property, draw the eye up to the beamed ceiling.
Michelle couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out. “I feel free when I walk into my house due to the bright and airy space. The many windows and doors allow for the outside to feel as though it’s inside.
“We weren’t really ready to move from London, but with no end of the pandemic in sight, it was the best thing for us to do, and we have no regrets. My daughter has settled in very well and has made good friends at school, and she has two really close friends here at Windsor. She also plays tennis and golf, and is starting to explore polo and school team sports,” Michelle notes happily.
“Having amazing sports facilities right here in the community is a huge benefit and something we all enjoy. In London we would have had to drive an hour to ride horses.
“I never thought I would want to live in Vero Beach full-time, but we are all loving the lifestyle.” `