Pelican Bay is a tropical nature reserve in Naples, FL that is a lesson in relaxation – vibrant flora and fauna, a soft sea breeze, and resort-style living. For this new apartment, designer Kara Mann was brought on to create serene interiors that would match the tranquility of the natural landscape outside. 

“The client was a big overseas traveler so buying a second home in the US was a major lifestyle transition, marking her decision to spend more time in Florida with family,” Kara shares. “She wanted the apartment to help her feel relaxed and like she was on vacation, with a coastal feel without being contrived to the location. They wanted to create a second home which was as accommodating for the couple by themselves as it was for their extended family and grandchildren.” 

Like many design projects these days, there were a few major hurdles to contend with. “Halfway through the original timeline the pandemic hit, and we were faced with strict regulations and restrictions,” the designer recalls. “On top of that, the site had multiple tenant buildouts, so it was very difficult to get enough people inside to finish the job.” For added complication, Kara is based in Chicago. “I had months of approving finishes and details over Facetime…which worked out fine but not without anxiety and headaches!”

The core architectural change happened in the foyer. The design firm created scalloped paneling made from stained white oak, conveying that you’ve arrived somewhere luxurious. An elegant powder room off the foyer houses a custom-made vanity, serving as the perfect place for guests to freshen up when they arrive. The dining room is one of the stars of the space, with a decadent Apparatus “Lariat” light. The cords drape over the table with opaque glass shades casting a soft glow. For living spaces, comfort was key and floor-to-ceiling windows let the view take center stage.  

Despite the challenges, they were able to deliver the serene Naples apartment within a year and a half. “Working together through uncertain times led to a stronger bond with the client,” Kara smiles. “She was so immersed in the process and every choice she made was on point. The client has told me she’s almost in tears every time she has to lock up her apartment and return home to Chicago!”