Imagine that you spent the winter months at your condominium overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Instead of shoveling snow, you had sand between your toes. Life was good. Then one day a For Sale sign popped up on a beachfront property just up the road, and your long-held dream of building a house from the ground up suddenly became
That’s what happened to a New England couple who, years earlier, had fallen in love with the Vero Beach lifestyle and all it has to offer.
“Our vision was to construct a unique house that was modern but comfortable,” the husband explains. “There would be lots of glass and open space utilizing natural materials of stone and wood. Another objective was to have the house blend as naturally as possible with the existing elevations and landscape.”
The property, bordered by nature preserves and the ocean, provided the desired surroundings as well as privacy. Realizing it was just what they had been looking for, the couple contacted a broker, who put them in touch with builder Joe Foglia. After initial conversations, the owner of Foglia Custom Homes introduced them to architect Tom Hoos and interior designer Rod Mickley.
“I guess you could call me the ‘ringmaster,’” Foglia chuckles as he describes what became a team effort that included landscape architect August Schwartz.
“I had met with the owners a couple of times and we had formed a relationship,” Foglia continues. “Like so many projects, it started out as a smaller, ‘cottagey’ type home and went from there.”
Over the years, the couple had collected clippings of residential designs and custom features that appealed, tucking them into a folder for future reference. That future had now arrived.
Enter Hoos. “For me, residential architecture is really about making the client’s dreams come true. Sometimes it’s hard for them to express in words; that’s why the visual can be so helpful. In this case, the owners had stacks of photos of homes they really liked.”
After meeting with the couple and going over the contents of the folder, Hoos sketched some preliminary designs, setting things in motion.
“The idea behind this house was to do a more transitional style that had a very modern feel but was also rooted in traditional elements,” says Hoos. “As an architect I’ve always taken the approach of not having a signature style but interpreting and providing what the client wants and having the expertise to make it happen.”
“Because the owners already lived here, we pretty much did everything in person,” he adds. “They were very open to what we were doing; it was a very collaborative process.”
That process resulted in a two-story glass, wood, and stone residence that features an open living/dining/kitchen area, a glass-enclosed elevator, and a spiral staircase that leads to an observation tower with a 360-degree panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon—daily sunrises and sunsets guaranteed.
“The whole idea behind the spiral staircase was that it was a piece of sculpture,” Hoos explains. “You come in the entry, look up and see it curve upwards with a glass rail that has a little LED light underneath. It’s really neat. We probably drew it 30 times before we got it right.”
There are many other things the team “got right,” including a two-story oak wall with gas fireplace and television, programmed as a work of art when not in use.
Overhead, a random series of circular pendants with miniature lights casts a warm glow. As Mickley notes, “They look like illuminated drops of rain and add interest and character to the high ceiling. The owners, who were very attuned to light fixtures, just fell in love with them.”
They felt the same way about the trio of pendant lights illuminating the kitchen island, which at first glance appear to be stacked slivers of sea glass. Nearby, oak-stained cabinets on either side of the Wolf gas stove add warmth to Caesar Stone countertops.
“Today clients are looking for maintenance-free materials, and the Caesar Stone doesn’t stain,” Hoos points out. “Also, the natural shell stone floor is just gorgeous with the wood; it brings a warmth while still feeling clean and modern.”
More clean and modern lines can be seen in the central living area, where furnishings combine aesthetics with function. The iconic Eames chair with ottoman, reminiscent of Bauhaus design, is a perfect example. Here, as throughout the house, performance fabrics and leather make for easy care, with fun accent fabrics adding happy pops of color.
When it came time to select paintings, the owners couldn’t resist a colorful painting by a Danish artist for the open metal frame stairway landing. Another eye-catching painting by the same artist commands one wall in the media room. Nearby, a bright red lamp prompts a smile.
In the first-floor master suite, the stylized face of a woman, her features defined by pinks, yellows, blue, and black, is centered above the king-size bed. The same colors are repeated in the designer pillows and vertical pattern of the floor-to-ceiling draperies that frame a view of palm trees, sea grapes, and bougainvilleas.
“The house is everything my wife and I envisioned and more. We couldn’t be more proud of the finished product. The design is truly unique, the perfect blend of beauty and comfort, the views are breathtaking and never get old,” the husband enthuses.
“We have a tremendous level of gratitude and appreciation for Tom, Joe, and Rod, who are all professional, detail oriented, caring, and a pleasure to work with. We had dozens of meetings with them, having input from a design and construction viewpoint. It was really invaluable to have that level of involvement right from the start.”
For Mickley, that level of involvement made a difference. “It was really special because they didn’t micromanage. They knew what they wanted, gave me general parameters, I went with it and they responded positively.”
Hoos couldn’t agree more. “When the house was finished and we did sort of a final walk through, the wife was so happy she literally had tears in her eyes.”
Foglia sums up his own feelings: “This has to be one of the most well-designed, cutting-edge, and well-appointed homes I’ve had the privilege of constructing.” `