Barbara Gardner of Collins Interiors transformed a dated single-family villa into a light, bright, family-friendly retreat for a New York couple and their adult children.

Barbara Gardner of Collins Interiors transformed a dated single-family villa into a light, bright, family-friendly retreat for a New York couple and their adult children.

If you’re among the newcomers to our region who, spurred on by the pandemic, blasted real estate purchases the past six months into the stratosphere, you may be wondering how to make your new waterfront condo feel like home. We went to a couple of interior design experts to find out.

Casual is Best

Barbara Gardner of Collins Interiors transformed a big single-family villa with dated Tuscan décor in the Longboat Key bayside community of Harbour Point into a light, bright, family-friendly retreat for a New York couple and their adult children. She replaced a heavy Tuscan fireplace surround with a modern white marble one with flanking built-in bookshelves. (Everybody needs more storage, right?) Playing off the existing light-reflecting marble floors, she painted everything white and chose furnishings for every room in white and blue. “I just love to use colors that you look outside and see,” Gardner says. “My inspiration is the sand, the beach, the sky—different shades of blue, green, creamy colors.”

A beloved memento from the homeowners' former condo hangs in the foyer of their new one.

A beloved memento from the homeowners' former condo hangs in the foyer of their new one.

Bring in Something Personal

In a circa-1984 Gulf-front vacation condo in Longboat Key’s Sunset Beach development that hadn’t been touched in decades, Kelly Kaiser of Orange Moon Interiors gutted everything and brought in lots of rustic light-washed woods with navy accents. She calls the resulting décor “modern farmhouse bones with bohemian flair.” The pièce de résistance that turned it into a true home: Her clients had previously owned Unit #18 at the late, beloved Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, and Kaiser incorporated the sign into the foyer’s design.

Kelly Kaiser of Orange Moon Interiors gutted everything and brought in lots of rustic light-washed woods with navy accents.

Kelly Kaiser of Orange Moon Interiors gutted everything and brought in lots of rustic light-washed woods with navy accents.

Emphasize the Indoor/Outdoor Lifestyle

For the Harbour Point villa, Gardner selected comfortable outdoor furniture with Sunbrella cushions in colors that flow from the inside, and a weatherproof resin cocktail table that’s too heavy to get upended in a wind gust. And be cognizant of sun control. “We have motorized roman shades in the family room for good light control,” she says. “Everything  can be controlled with their phones from their home in New York, from checking on security to setting the thermostat before they arrive.”

The homeowners wanted to make sure there was space for family meals.

The homeowners wanted to make sure there was space for family meals.

Think of the Grandkids

“The first part of my job is to listen, listen, listen to how they’re going to live in the space,” says Kaiser, and in this condo, the owners have grown children who will be visiting so they wanted to make sure there is space for family meals, and one room to accommodate a future grandchild. “We designed for three generations,” says Kaiser. “This will be their beach getaway for a long time.”

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