Designer Simone Johnson of Thrive Design Studio says the location of this Florida home is one thing that makes it so unique. “This home is located past a few strawberry fields in Seffner, and is really just a hidden gem,” she explains. “You can’t see the house from the street and so the first drive up starts to feel a bit questionable, but quickly turns to a pleasant surprise once you get down the dirt driveway and onto the property.” It was originally built in 1986 by an architect from California, designing it for himself but making adjustments to suit the original owner. “The style of the home could be described as a mix of Spanish, Mediterranean and even Andalusian,” Simone says.
Fast forward to today, when the designer was given the chance to reimagine the home with her engineer client. He hired Simone to see the home in a different perspective, soften things up a bit, and pull it all together cohesively. When she first saw the property, it was definitely dated. “There was cream carpeting with a peach border in the primary bedroom, and the fireplace marble was pink,” she recalls. “In the bathroom, there were black square tiles placed in a diamond pattern, and a small shower with brass trimmed doors.”
Her vision for the space was to lighten and liven things up. “In a home like that I like for the architecture to dictate the direction of the design, and combine that with what I learned about the client and his lifestyle,” she shares. “Things needed to be simplified, added, and become more visible; more than things needed to be changed. For example, we brightened the exterior of the home by painting it white, and using an unexpectedly bright color on the wooden elements, including some of the windows. Once you step inside we simplified some existing design elements.”
Leading up to the entryway is a beautiful courtyard with a water feature. Once inside, the entry is shaped like a hexagon, with different openings leading into different parts of the home. Here, she kept things simple with a round stone table, an orchid, and unique metal statue from the client’s personal collection. As you continue, there’s an indoor atrium with a live tree growing. They added a few small bistro-style tables, which give the atrium the feeling of a boutique hotel in Seville.
Just to the left is a full bar. “It was all brown, the same stained color as the top of it is now, and the mirrored area had some structurally heavy design details built up around it,” Simone recalls. “We simplified that by removing the heavy details, adding an open metal shelving unit that we dressed and treated like a bar cart. This might be the area inside the home where I surprised the client the most. I told him that we should paint the bar, then I said green. He said that he needed to think about that one. If I remember correctly, he remained unsure for a while, so I just asked him to trust me,” she laughs.
As you continue walking the property, there’s a family room, an outdoor dining area, a pool and poorhouse (which she transformed into the guest suite). Upstairs is the owners’ suite. “We started by replacing the flooring, and updating the fireplace,” the designer tells us. “Then, we added in some soft layers with a rug, and some simple white sheer drapes. We also took advantage of the amount of space we had and created little moments within the space. One of my favorites being the chair on the hide in the corner!”
Finally, the room that got the most work: the bathroom. The entire layout was changed and the space is totally custom, with locally sourced marble and tiles selected by a designer in Utah. “A cool detail, is that the client did a lot of the work himself,” Simone says. “He built the plaster alcoves, bench and the surround for the double vanity. And with all of that, the one of the details that I love the most are the horse head hooks that the vanity mirrors hang on. They were in another area of the house, we just repurposed them.”
The home itself was certainly unique, but it’s clear the designer worked to ensure it would have a lasting design. “What I love the most about the home, is that I am able to revisit, and the design still feels fresh every single time,” she smiles. “It’s truly timeless!”