Light & Lovely : In Old Naples
A shared vision of dazzling light is what inspired Karen and Bruce Larson when they began to plan their latest home in Old Naples. Co-owners of Dreamhouses of Old Naples, Bruce speaks for the pair when he says, “We are always looking for openness and flow and, in this home, we wanted as much light coming in as possible.”
The partners’ signature look is ever-present in the coastal cotemporary style of the four bedroom, five-and-a-half bath residence designed by architect Matthew Kragh, President of MHK Architecture & Planning.
“The sharp stucco lines, undulating rooflines, accented by the dark roof, and what is probably the coolest outdoor living area we have ever put together, make this home a little gem,” describes Kragh.
Karen Larson, who designed the interior of the home with Katie Frank, Owner and President of St-Tropez Home, made great use of a simple palette of neutral colors and crystals, as is found in the living room where smoked glass globes shine down on white twin leather sofas and grey suede basket chairs. “The collaboration between Karen Larson and myself results in a sophisticated, clean-line, contemporary look which is exactly what Naples is looking for today,” describes Frank.
Much of the art was sourced at Bay Design Store. The first is a series of three botanical prints by British artist Amanda Ross shown on the left in the hall leading from the living room. The others are two sea fans mounted on white grass cloth in shadowbox frames by Jamie Deitrich.
“We are thrilled be part of Karen’s beautiful home project. Bay Design Store has a fabulous collection of art available, from gorgeous original oils to signed limited- edition prints. In addition, we have a wide range of unique accessories, lighting, and fine furniture,” describes Susan Bay, Owner of Bay Design Store.
The showstopper of the home is the unique glass-enclosed office lit by a custom cube chandelier. “We wanted to have no interruption in the light coming in from outside,” explains Bruce. Sliding barn doors of glass were used in the creation of this surprising room, and they presented some challenges for the builder, who enjoyed rising to the occasion.
“We searched out an artisan to cut the glass to the perfect specifications, and we think the room and the rest of the house, with all of its highest end finishes, came out beautifully,” says Mike Assaad, Owner of Waterside Builders, Inc. “We always stay true to the architect’s vision, and we were very happy to be involved in creating this lovely home.”
The glow from the dining room’s custom chandelier is reflected in the dark framed mirror, Starfire glass shelves, slit faced ½ inch marble “Sugar Cube” backsplash and “Taj Mahal” quartzite buffet top on a Hyland Custom Cabinetry smoked oak cabinet. A walnut ebony-stained table and chairs of brushed cotton chairs accented with nail head details, invites enlightened dinner conversation. No rug mars the beauty of the Legno Bastone Wide Plank Flooring, part of the European Elegance Line, named “St. Moritz.”
The handcrafted floor was skillfully laid by experienced craftsmen from Naples Flooring Company, a premier dealer in Naples that exclusively showcases a Legno Bastone Gallery.
“We are passionate about our oak flooring and proud of our work. We always go the extra mile to ensure that the customers are fully satisfied with the whole process—from supplying the material to fitting the oak flooring,” says Cristian Longo, Founder and Owner of Naples Flooring with wife Laurie Longo.
Arturo Guido, President, Legno Bastone Wide Plank Flooring adds, “To us, the house inspired visions of great gatherings of friends and family and the finish of this fine floor is, like a fine wine, another way to enjoy life.”
The streamlined kitchen benefits from the subdued beauty of flat slab doors and door front “Driftwood” cabinetry by Hyland Custom Cabinetry. Uplit floating shelves, another Karen Larson signature, take the place of upper cabinets and help continue the clean lines and low profile of the kitchen.
Chris Hylemon, Director of Hyland Custom Cabinetry enjoyed the slight differences from other projects in which he has been involved.
“This kitchen puts a more contemporary spin on the coastal cottage feel,” he says. “Yet it is laid out beautifully and is incredibly functional.” That function is provided courtesy of Ferguson Enterprises who installed the latest in SubZero/Wolf appliances. These included, “The convection steam oven, one of the hottest ideas on the market,” explains Ferguson’s Gregory Bennett. “It is more efficient than gas and steam is and much healthier, as no oils are needed.”
Bennett also points out that all appliances are flush against the cabinetry, adding to the sleek look, as does the minimalist range hood and industrial chrome pendant lights illuminating the island.
The master bedroom is a study in restful neutrals and textures. Accordion pleated linen-wrapped nightstands flank a French bed upholstered in buff linen. The sisal rug and a contemporary chair, whose footrest sports men’s suiting in a soft grey flannel, serve as the perfect complement to the room’s neutral balanced vibe.
A Circa chandelier in the master bath lights the deep freestanding DVX tub with chrome tub filler. The dove grey walls are accented with a trio of white coral art pieces and a faux fur rug lends a touch of glamour.
In the indoor/outdoor space, a Hinsdale outdoor wicker seating group, underneath the frosted glass chandelier that ascends into a decorative cupola, faces the fireplace covered in glacier white ledger stone.
“We used split-faced ledger stone to add texture,” says Gina Gilberto of Ceramic Matrix. “It works well indoors and outdoors for feature walls, fireplaces, and anywhere you want to create dimension and/or add a rough element,” describes Gilberto. A pass-through window opens to the indoor kitchen and allows ingredients to be passed to the chef stationed at the Al Fresco outdoor grill.
On the lanai, the endless spa, clad in glass tiles of blues and greens, features spilling waterfalls on all four sides and provides a focal point for both the master bedroom and outdoor living room. The pool is kept overfilled, so that the waterline nestles closely underneath the square edge coping keeping the rectilinear classic lines designed by Landscape Architect Christian Andrea and Phillip McHenry of Architectural Land Design.
“Having worked with this team on other projects, we’ve become friends,” says Andrea. “As a landscape architect, these are exciting projects. They allow us to explore the renewed Old Florida-inspired architecture in the heart of Old Naples, with modern elements of elegant water features, and lush landscape and to merge the old and the new in the same place. When you visit these homes, it’s like being in the past and the present at the same time,” concludes Andrea.
Realtor Andrew Arreola of Gulf Coast International Properties took on the task of marketing the home. “The demographic of Naples is changing, and the younger buyers don’t want the heavy ornate look that was once so popular, yet some developers aren’t willing to change their formula,” he says. “But the Larsons bring a creative influence and are willing to take things in a different direction. Their homes reflect the clean feel, continuous flow, and outdoor living access that homebuyers want today. It is no wonder this home was put under contract within only a few weeks. It was an exciting residence to represent.”
“We created a joyful house and one that is very welcoming,” Karen Larson shares. “It is just begging for an intimate gathering of good friends. We are sure the buyers will find living in it a delightful experience.”
Written by Kitt Walsh
Photography by Giovanni Photography