Elevated Beach Chic By Mary Lou Janson
Moving to Florida presented New Jersey residents, Lee and Cindy Launer with an opportunity to take a more comfortable — but unconventional — approach to how they live. Their quest for a home designed to be more easily maintained and less formal, essentially turned the couple’s world upside down.
By inverting their two-story home’s floor plan, the layout was less traditional, but definitely hospitable. Downstairs feels more like a chic beachfront cottage or a luxury island retreat that’s more suitable for entertaining. The floor above, where most of the family’s day-to-day living centers, is intentionally designed to make folks feel at home.
Upstairs houses the kitchen, dining room and family room, while the downstairs features a custom-built bar with a large side buffet. It’s also a kid-friendly space outfitted with a floor that can handle drips — but won’t cause slips — when post-swim wet feet are walking through. Overstuffed sofas with stylish, but durable, fabrics and a hightop table made from a wooden slab with its natural jagged edge still intact, will manage to retain their good looks as the guests keep coming.
“We wanted a minimalist design that was clean and not cluttered. Overall, we wanted a casual, open floor plan,” said Lee Launer.
Technology and teamwork kept ideas and updates flowing as the four bedroom, six bathroom home gradually took shape, while its future occupants remained in their New Jersey neighborhood.
Included in the planning process were the couple, Cindy’s children, Abby, 13, and Nate 15, and what the couple describe as a “design dream team” comprised of Rob Bowen, principal of Rob Bowen Design Group, Stephen Smith, partner with Cooper Johnson Smith Architects, and Steve Loupin of Loupin Construction, a custom home developer.
“We were able to do some really great things with this house. The overall feeling is very relaxed, very wash-and-wear and is designed for very easy maintenance,” said Bowen.
There are also many distinctive enhancements that add interest in atypical ways and places. Bowen introduced a spa-like feel to the master bathroom using inlaid pebbles in the floor and accenting an expansive, glass-doored shower with handmade tiles featuring a leaf motif. The second floor kitchen island brings a bit of the beach indoors. Made from concrete mixed with aggregate, the surface gained a less industrial and more sand-like appearance.
Both floors feature expansive, wide open spaces that allow people and conversation to flow freely. Wall-to-wall glass doors on both floors fill them with natural light, while providing panoramic views of the sparkling waters of Pirate’s Cove.
The interior is a masterpiece of minimalism that avoids being too stark or blandly monotone, by striking just the right balance using natural materials, a subdued, but varied, color palette, metals featuring a matte finish, large light fixtures that add flair and sophistication to the high-ceilinged rooms, and numerous textures that bring warmth, depth and dimension to the walls, floors and furnishings.
“We think of it as a combination of the homes you would see in the West Indies or Key West, something that is more resort-like,” said Cindy Launer. “It’s a clean, simple, livable space that is functional but also very warm.” M