- Posted on December 13, 2021
Sometimes you have to go with your gut. Just ask Cindy Engles: during a Thanksgiving visit to Naples, she walked into an open house for the heck of it, and strolled out with a new home and plans for a cross-country move. Originally, she had only intended to walk off a slice of pie, but fate—in this case, a 5,200-square-foot coastal cottage—beckoned.
One small issue: the residence was staged in a “very Florida” way, which is fine for some people. But for Engles, the aesthetic wasn’t going to work with the sizable modern art collection she has curated for more than two decades with the help of art consultant Sharon Lieber of Architectural Arts in Dallas. Engles’ collection is wide-ranging—including abstracts, sculptures, wall-hangings, and stunning photography—but all of it is a reflection of its owner’s vivacious personality.
“I believe a home becomes more personalized with art,” Engles said. “Anyone [who] walks into my home would call it ‘happy.’ I love that adjective because the art I’ve been collecting is so fun. I buy what I like, and with [Lieber’s] help it has been a wonderful journey and hobby.”
What Engles needed was a way to merge her happy hobby with her brand-new home. After conferring with Lieber, Engles knew she needed a designer who could help her create a lively, livable backdrop for the art—without overwhelming it. By chance, Engles and Lieber were shopping in downtown Naples when they came across designer Judith Liegeois of Judith Liegeois Designs. After falling in love with her “fun and funky” showroom, Engles says she knew Liegeois was just right for the job.
“She was not going to be a coastal, blue-and-white safe decorator,” Engles says. “She is a person who appreciates good design and art. We immediately clicked.”
Engles donated most of the furniture and artwork that had been used to stage the home—giving Liegeois a clean slate to work with. For her part, Liegeois says she used that starting point to step back and let the house tell her what it needed (“Because,” as she says, “it will.”)
And it did—from the custom bedframe to the sheep stool for the piano.
Integrating and displaying Engles’ art was the next step. “I didn’t mind taking a back seat to what was already there,” Liegeois says. “I put the furniture, colors, and tones together in a way that plays off her pieces. The goal was not to match the collection. You don’t want to do that when you have good artwork. In a project like this, the furniture and architecture need to take a step back and let the art and sculpture reign.”
Everything went seamlessly, Liegeois says, because Engles is so “lovely and easygoing” and was excited every time a new piece showed up. “Beginning to end, it was a total transformation,” Engles says. “Now that it’s complete, it looks and feels different and more personalized and happier and more interesting. I am so glad that [Liegeois] could tie it all together.”
Although she loves sharing her space with the art collection she’s curated, Engles says sharing her colorful and comfortable new home with friends is the ultimate payoff for the project. “I call my house ‘Friends’ Place’—and I mean friends plural possessive—because I want all of my friends to think it’s their house,” Engles says. “I don’t need all these bedrooms. I want to share it with others.”
Featured in Florida Design Naples
Interior Design by Judith Liegeois, Judith Liegeois Designs, Naples, FL
Builder Paul Stanton, Seaside Builders, Naples, FL
Text by Paige Bowers
Photography by Lori Hamilton, Naples, FL