One Great Room

By staff November 1, 2006

Tennessee peach orchard, they hoped to incorporate some of Wright’s principles into their new waterfront home.

“But FEMA regulations for flood elevations forced some major modifications,” says Steve, an architecture and history buff whose great-great-great-great- grandfather was Federalist Party founder Alexander Hamilton and whose mother’s family goes back to a brother of Daniel Boone.

That said, it’s no wonder the Hamiltons have incorporated bits of history throughout their new home. An eclectic mix of Bauhaus, Wright, Memphis, Roycraft and mid-century styles, the overly solid, hurricane-proof residence was designed by Steve (he has degrees in architecture and law).

Steve formerly owned convenience stores, but a basement hobby restoring antique juke boxes and toys (“Sheila insisted I needed something to do when I retired”) has led to a second career as an antiques dealer. The result: international clients and the personality-plus pieces accessorizing every room in the couple’s new home.

The unadorned lines of the ’50s, influenced by Bauhaus and Arts & Crafts, are replicated in the ornament-free light maple cabinetry with minimal stainless steel trim.

Expanses of sustainable bamboo flooring are unencumbered, except for vibrant limited edition area rugs designed by artist Wassily Kandinsky for the Guggenheim Museum.

A mahogany Arts & Crafts dining room table (circa 1887) contrasts steel-framed chairs standing in for a set of bentwood Thonet classics undergoing restoration by Steve.

Though they brought most of their treasures from Tennessee, the Hamiltons found their original quirky-colored Memphis sofa and club chairs at a Sarasota couple’s private sale.  

A floating stainless steel mobile light fixture by Tech Lighting suspends from the ceiling with the pair’s choice of optional ornaments: a bug, a zeppelin and a dragonfly.

The home’s bright, toy-like painted walls are not so much a reflection of Steve’s antiques as they are a nod to the Memphis Group and its shockingly colored furniture.

Surrounding the steel staircase designed by Steve are rare antique juke boxes, toys and even Prohibition-era gambling devices camouflaged as candy and gum dispensers.

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