By Christine Davis
Friday, February 27, 2009
In his initial conversations with architect Rafael Portuondo, Palm Beach Realtor Adam Jackson was clear about the type of house he wanted to develop for sale on a prime piece of waterfront property facing the inlet at the northernmost tip of Palm Beach.
“We wanted water vistas from as many rooms as possible,” Jackson explains. “We wanted to create something that was not a typical speculative house. We wanted something that was a unique solution to a lot on the water, that would be worthy of Palm Beach – but outside of the box. Tropical. Simple design. Natural earth tones.”
Jackson was surprised, however, at the speed with which Portuondo responded to his request. The principal of Portuondo Perotti Architects in Coral Gables came up with the basic plan for the residence in what can only be called a moment of inspiration.
“His design talents are unparalleled,” Jackson explains. “We were meeting for lunch at Café Boulud, and he pulled out a piece of paper and drew the house in five minutes,” Jackson says.
After that initial burst of creativity, it took a talented team to create the 4,560-square-foot residence that stands on the site at 167 E. Inlet Drive. The lot itself measures about 17,400 square feet, of which about 6,000 square feet is leased from the Army Corps of Engineers. Jackson, who is affiliated with the Palm Beach real estate firm of Fite Shavell & Associates, has co-listed with Realtor Lynn Warren the four-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath home at $9.595 million.
The house is being marketed as an “armchair yachtsman’s paradise,” and it’s easy to see why. Portuondo delivered a floor plan with windows, French doors, patios and balconies that showcase views of the nearly constant parade of vessels making their way through the inlet. Among them is the gaming ship Palm Beach Princess, which sails twice a day from the Port of Palm Beach and seems close enough to touch as it sails by the property. In addition to views of the inlet, the wide-open vistas capture the Intracoastal Waterway, Singer Island and Peanut Island.
The residence Portuondo came up with features a modified Dutch-South African style of architecture with a red roof and twin chimneys defining its silhouette.
One of its most notable features is evident at the front entry. To reach the front door, one walks through an octagonal cupola with a floor of coral Keystone inset with stones from Java. Overhead is an open structure that will eventually be entwined with vines. Immediately east of the cupola is a courtyard with double pergolas.
Laszlo Wagner of the Landfall Group built the house, while his wife, Yvonne, was responsible for finishing the interiors.
“Yvonne has an incredible design palette with textures and colors and worked with me on the bathrooms and kitchens,” Jackson says. “Laszlo has an additional company for windows and doors, and we worked with him with a window package and floors milled in his company in Bali.”
With fixtures by Waterworks, the bathrooms are elegant, as is the kitchen, with its dovetailed, hand-brushed cabinetry painted ivory. The kitchen features top-of the-line appliances, a center island, soapstone countertops, a Waterworks subway-tile backsplash and attractive stainless-steel track lighting. The kitchen offers water views as well as access to an outdoor pavilion with a summer kitchen.
Among the fine details in the kitchen – and one repeated in other rooms – is a distinctive woodwork style. “The wood cabinetry components, in conjunction with five layers of plaster, create a subtle, flush-trim detail through the entire house,” Jackson explains.
Most of the floors, meanwhile, are covered in Merbau hardwood.
Straight on from the foyer is the living room, where French doors open onto a patio with a swimming pool, its sides made of Balinese slabs of stone that extend to the bottom.
Built-in benches also are incorporated into the design. Across the rear lawn, the inlet glistens.
To the east of the foyer is an intimate bar and den area with built-in cabinetry. It connects to a formal dining room with three sets of French doors overlooking the front courtyard. On the opposite side of the dining room, a doorway leads into a columned gallery and the family room beyond.
At the east end of the gallery is the stairwell and a hallway to the service areas – a laundry, a butler’s pantry and a two-car garage on the southeast corner of the house.
In the family room, three sets of French doors open onto the rear lawn, while the fireplace is graced by a Merbau wood surround. From here, a doorway leads to the kitchen.
Also in the east part of the house is a guest bedroom with an adjoining bath.
Upstairs and to the northeast is a bedroom with a vaulted tongue-and-groove ceiling. “We tried to create as much ceiling height as possible,” Jackson explains.
A series of floor-to-ceiling windows provide water views.
The guest bedroom in the southeast also has a pitched ceiling. “This one has French doors that open to a large terrace and gives a peek of the ocean,” Jackson says.
On the south and north walls of the breezeway that leads to the master bedroom, French doors open to broad terraces with waist-height walls for privacy. The terrace on the north is equipped with an antique French-limestone fireplace. It’s easy to imagine curling up on comfortable outdoor seating in front of a fire on cool evenings.
The master bedroom has it all, as far as views are concerned, with windows framing Peanut Island on through the inlet. The bathroom also includes a charming alcove that houses a soaking tub – a fine spot to take in those amazing vistas and luxuriate in a hot bath.