Situated next to a cypress preserve in Mediterra—one of Naples’ most exquisite gated communities—this 5,806-square-foot home is surrounded by silk floss trees, a plumeria tree, and a mix of bamboo varieties and pines. It’s a setting the homeowners were intent on celebrating from the moment they laid eyes on the property.
“We chose to buy in Mediterra because of the neighborhood’s Audubon aesthetic,” says homeowner Robin Schiller. “Ever since I was a young girl, I have felt a harmony being in nature. As we approached designing this home, we knew we wanted to embrace the landscape around us. Our style is clean and classic, and we wanted to create a sense of outdoor/indoor, where the views themselves became art.”
The home’s entrance has the feel of a secluded oasis, with strategically placed foliage and discreet privacy walls.
Rob Herscoe and Michael Hajjar, principals at Herscoe Hajjar Architects, met the clients a few years prior to the start of the project, and the homeowners followed the firm’s work extensively so they could feel confident with their creative direction—an essential element to a successful design process.
“The architectural style is a contemporary version of a Florida courtyard home,” says Herscoe. “The property’s natural vegetation links seamlessly to the preserve, so there is no hard designation between the two, which allows the home to feel built within a larger landscape. The entrance is accessed through a gate within a walled courtyard that allows the typical ceremonial front yard to become an active environment for entertaining as well as a private breakout from the room fronting the home.”
“Secondary entrances give access to the master suite from a separate garage so the homeowners can choose how to navigate the ever-changing daily flow of people to and from the house,” adds Hajjar. “The key to making a house work for a family of different personalities and needs is to not force cross-path circulation that invades privacy.”
One of the main challenges for the architects was to demonstrate to the homeowner’s association at Mediterra how their design would work within the neighborhood. The typical street presentation of most homes incorporates an obvious embellished front entrance element. “For this property, we wanted a humble entry sequence that utilized a more mysterious approach of sequential processing that courtyard style provided,” says Herscoe. “And it truly worked, as passersby are continuously trying to see beyond the gates of this unique home.”
Herscoe and Hajjar teamed up with Naples designer Judith Liegeois, owner of Judith Liegeois Designs. Because they all had worked together on many projects in the past, the collaboration was effortless. “Our design concept began when Robin recalled a fond memory of a childhood friend’s home,” explains Liegeois. “It was a perfect California mid-century-style home with large windows that invited the outdoors in, which became our ultimate design goal. To do this, we approached every detail [with that intent], from the color of the draperies to how the light is cast through the chandeliers and sconces. Every single element in the home speaks to nature in one way or another.”
One source of inspiration came from Schiller’s love of The Jumby Bay Resort in Antigua, where the rooms have a distinctive inside/outside feel. This greatly influenced the master bath, where Schiller wanted to emulate an outdoor vibe. Another was reflected in her experience growing up in New York City. In her 20s, Schiller often found herself hanging out with friends in the lounge of the Mercer Hotel. “I loved the mood of that space,” she says. “I am drawn to Christian Liaigre’s design. He designed the Mercer Hotel interiors, among other New York favorites of mine. My favorite piece in the entire home is the Liaigre dining room table. The slight peek of red on the legs is sexy, like a woman’s shoe.”
Schiller relished the time spent with Liegeois on their shopping trips, absorbing new knowledge about design, design history, and art from Liegeois.
“It is truly a gift to live in a home designed and built by these most talented individuals,” Schiller says. “Still today, I find myself smiling at the most thoughtful, small details around the house and the sightlines that Rob and Michael were so passionate about incorporating. It was a great collaboration between builder, architect, and designer.”