This bright, white home, with its vivid green shutters, expansive porch, and verdant, blooming greenery, is no stranger to flattery. In fact, its owners receive constant praise on their property, such as one man “who complimented us on the amazing restoration and wanted to know if the home was originally built in the 1920s when the neighborhood was created.” They found that funny, as the quaint cottage had been erected in 2002 along a quiet street in Hobe Sound where “people engage one another and have a kind word when passing by.” A flip-flop’s throw from the town’s sandy beaches, the three-bedroom home was inspired by Florida’s historic cracker-style house and features Norman Rockwell-esque visages and neighboring properties of equal charm. Nearly 40 different varieties of plants and trees reside around the property including fox palms, guava trees and green island ficus, as well as three types of jasmine and crotons. An arched, gated entry with angel wing begonias, plumbago, and dendrobium and phalaenopsis orchids, leads to a breezeway and a tropical-imbued pool in the backyard. The home’s heart may be in the kitchen, but its spirit lays on the front porch where the homeowners like to spend hours rocking and watching the late-summer sunsets. The airy, open living spaces inside are painted in crisp pastels and adorned with watercolors, vibrant abstracts, palette knife paintings and oil works by Caribbean, Central American and Florida artists, including Carolyn Gordon, Joseph LaPierre and Dora Woodrum.
Sometimes you pick the property and sometimes, as marvelous as it sounds, the property picks you. Case in point: While searching for a large single-level home with water views that could accommodate them and one, or both, of their mothers, a Fort Lauderdale couple happened upon the perfect property in Fort Pierce. “We pulled up, walked in, and looked at each other and that was it,” Patricia says. Everywhere their eyes paused, they saw something they loved—from the long, broad, sun-dappled porch to the sabal palms scattered around the 3.2-acre property. They knew their art and furnishings would fit in easily and envisioned the exact location their bedroom furniture would go. The only issue—and it wasn’t for them—was the 5,000-square-foot home was nestled between two properties with dogs, and all three were invisibly fenced together. Each was wary the new residents would be unhappy with the arrangement. But once they allayed their doubts, the new owners moved into the 1936 cracker-style house in May 2015. Other than remodeling the kitchen and baths, the interiors were left untouched. The entertainment room, a baronial space with special features like a large fireplace and full bar, is their favorite room for parties and intimate get-togethers. They also love taking friends and clients out on their boat for fishing trips down the Indian River. One of their most cherished pastimes is watching the magnificent sunrises on their front porch with four or five dogs snoozing at their feet. “We are so blessed,” she says. “I just can’t even tell you how blessed we feel to live here.”
Susan Rose lived in Maine for 27 years before relocating to Stuart in 2002. An accomplished equestrian who’s spent six months every year competing in Wellington’s illustrious global dressage circuit, she recalls the first time she laid eyes on the charming cottage on Cleveland Avenue. “I had come down here with an Olympic trainer who had 30 horses,” she says. “After 12 days without a day off, I went to a real estate office that had a book with pictures and this little house was the first one in the book. I looked at it and said, ‘This is my house.’” Built in 1945, the 1,044-square-foot home was in disrepair, and brown and orange shag carpeting was everywhere. “When you live in Maine, everything has to be white with dark green trim,” she says. So she painted it purple and added gingerbread trim and a white picket fence. She removed the home’s original screen porch and replaced it with an outdoor hot tub to soothe her tired muscles. A small table with chairs is used for en plein air meals. A consummate gardener, she grows regional delicacies, ranging from arugula and red lettuce to pineapples and Meyer’s lemons, which the raccoons and opossums try to purloin. New windows and a roof were added, but the home’s bones were left untouched. In the kitchen, colorful winners’ ribbons remind her of time spent in the saddle. Most of the furnishings are a colorful hodgepodge of acquired treasures and original finds, like the living room fireplace she salvaged from Palm City Auction and restored. When asked where her stallion sleeps, she replies that he lives on a farm in Palm City. “My horse’s stall is bigger than my bedroom,” she laughs.
Brittany and Ryan Huff
Rarely do couples end up in a home they both lived in on separate occasions. As serendipitous as it sounds, that’s exactly what happened with Brittany and Ryan Huff. After graduating from Indiana University, Ryan moved to Fort Pierce in 2005 and rented a single-level abode from Brittany’s mother. Ten years earlier, in 1995, Brittany’s parents purchased the property on Indian River Drive for family getaways. Once the two tied the knot, they bought the two-bedroom, two-bath house, and then commenced with a full remodel. In 2015, they moved in with Brittany’s three children in tow. “Other than sidewalls and the front, we pretty much knocked everything down,” Brittany says, “but we kept the cottage-looking aspect of the home.” The home’s front façade was painted a punchy lime green and they extended the back to gain extra square footage for a master bedroom suite, an additional bedroom and a home office that overlook a manicured backyard with shady palm trees and a seismic Royal Poinciana tree. At the opposite end, a pair of bedrooms, flanking the open concept kitchen and dining room, offer unparalleled views of the Indian River beyond. Walls are cast in varying shades of light gray and lined with works by local Florida artists. The majority of the furnishings were sourced from Havertys furniture. At the rear of the property, a spacious, four-car garage with fans, light fixtures, a TV and speaker system serves as a relaxed spot where family and guests can socialize and unwind between games of corn hole and darts. A new, inground pool is slated for the coming year.
Jeremy and Christina Brownie
There’s no question Jeremy and Christina Brownie share sentimental feelings for their home. For instance, when the couple learned the land it stood on in Palm Beach was destined to become a two-story parking lot, they had the centenarian structure barged (yes, barged) to Palm City in 2000. The Jensen Beach natives moved in two years later, after the property had been brought up to code, a new laundry room and bathroom added, and a large back porch installed with hand-carved, pineapple railings. Jeremy, a fourth-generation family owner of Brownie Companies, had the home angled on the lot so his family could watch the rose-colored sunrises over the St. Lucie River that gently courses across the street. “It’s just a very special house,” Christina says. “When you walk in, it’s very warm and welcoming with original Sage County wood floors, vintage moldings and a wood-burning fireplace.” The kitchen was updated with granite countertops and cherry wood cabinetry, and the wall separating it from the dining room was torn down to create a more natural flow. An artist and a former art teacher, Christina had the exterior painted a cool coral hue with vibrant white and green accents. Natural sunlight filters into every room, thanks to the home’s 33 windows, including the eight in their youngest daughter’s bedroom that makes it feel like a tree house suspended in the sky. The Brownies, who reside in Long Island, New York, visit the property frequently and rent it out the remainder of the year.
Key West Calling
Stephen and Deborah Dale
Like the green light that captivated Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby in the classic American novel, Stephen Dale and his wife, Deborah, often find themselves transfixed by the St. Lucie nuclear power plant’s glowing lights they can see from their placid porch. “We think they’re kind of pretty,” Stephen says. “With my background in making fuel, it doesn’t bother me a bit.” Stephen, now retired, worked for GE in nuclear fuel manufacturing in Wilmington, North Carolina, before the couple migrated south. In 2000, they purchased the sprawling, 5.47-acre estate that came with a parcel they later sold back to the state. Bestowed with a 3,600-square-foot footprint, the aqua-blue, Key West-inspired edifice was designed with comfortable open spaces, high ceilings that soar to 17 feet in the living room, and spectacular views of the Indian River. The front porch is a lovely setting for gathering with friends to watch herds of butterflies and dragonflies flit and whizz by. Using the tropical surrounds as design inspiration, Deborah mixed whimsical pineapple motifs and light fixtures with their personal keepsakes and priceless heirlooms. The 12-foot-long dining room table Stephen inherited serves as a congregation site for impromptu family dinners and festive bacchanals. In a small display room upstairs, two Siamese rescue cats named Steamy and Zippy guard Deborah’s prized collection of 800 Barbie and integrity dolls. When they’re not lounging in their hickory and palm-studded backyard, the Dales can be found on the dock across the street watching rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. “NASA used to do it every six months,” Stephen says, “but this [Elon Musk’s] company, SpaceX, is shooting things off pretty regularly.”