Before hammer hit nail, there were 21 schemes—meticulous line drawings—for the new home that would be positioned a stone’s throw from Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway. After an intense six months of sketching, it clicked: The staff of Ferguson & Shamamian Architects in New York City found the key to unlock this treasure of a house in Jupiter Island, Florida.
Stephen Chrisman, one of the firm’s six partners, recalls the process, which included countless conversations with the homeowners. Says Chrisman, “A lot of work went into making this look effortless, to make the project feel like it’s always been there.”
With a spirit that is both easygoing and balanced to precision, the Anglo-Caribbean style house, with nuances of Colonial character, is welcoming and stately. The central portion of the home—including a centered front entry that provides a view straight through to the water—remained mostly unchanged throughout the 21 iterations. Wings, which extend forward to hug the property, encompass the kitchen, shared family space, and bedrooms.
The entire second floor is the spacious primary suite with an adjoining covered porch. A separate guesthouse provides space for the couple’s grown children to visit. Terraces, decks, and porches add space and a charming touch.
The exterior is right in step with Anglo-Caribbean style with a large hipped roof, simple framework enclosing five bays, and custom mahogany window frames. The windows, with large glass panes, render views of the Intracoastal. Shutters, painted an appealing gray-blue shade suggested by New York City interior designer Victoria Hagan, add warmth to the stucco walls.
The couple had fallen in love with the two-acre setting and the Jupiter Island community, and committed to full participation in their home’s design—enough so that they practically lived on the property for long periods. “They wanted to know where the sun came up and set; the views and the landscape; what you see at different times of day. They wanted to truly learn the land,” Chrisman says. Having worked previously with Ferguson & Shamamian, the couple confidently depended on Chrisman and the team, including partners Oscar Shamamian and Tom McManus.
For the landscape design, the homeowners and designers wanted an easy flow of native plantings, which would gently segue into spacious neighboring properties. Jorge Sanchez of SMI Landscape Architecture in Palm Beach spoke their design language. Sanchez’s philosophy started with an emphasis on the relationship of the house and its lush setting, allowing much of the property to remain a bit overgrown. Layers of plantings edge the lawn, while palm trees and old ficus trees grace the property.
It was imperative, Chrisman says, that the architect, interior designer, and landscape architect work closely together for a seamless whole: “We thought about architectural character of the property a lot.”
Inside, each room stands on its own, enfilade style, directly linking the spaces rather than depending on corridors. The arrangement encourages the interior’s beautiful natural lighting and gives the house a cozy feel. An interior palette of light, neutral shades and minimal but very special art, allow the architectural lines to fully shine.
The home design’s biggest challenge, and the way Chrisman and his team approached it, resulted in one of its most appealing features: a covered porch off the second-floor primary suite, which the clients had specifically requested. Considering the hipped roof and the home’s overall style, the team at first was puzzled. Then the answer emerged in somewhat nontraditional fashion—creating space for the airy porch by incorporating an open-ended bay. It has become one of the homeowners’ favorite places, sitting on the porch, amid the tree tops, morning coffee in hand.
The challenge also became one of the best moments in the design process, says Oscar Shamamian, who founded the firm with his longtime colleague Mark Ferguson: “It was fun and scary. The homeowners put us to the test, in all the right ways.”