A MODERN CLASSIC IN HILLSBORO BEACH
INTERIOR DESIGN Rex Nichols Associate Designers -Ray Stapleton and Kathy Abney Rex Nichols Interiors, Inc.. Boca Raton, FL ARCHITECT Rex Nichols, Rex Nichols Architect, P.A. Baca Raton, FL LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Rhett Roy, Rhett Roy Landscape Architects, Fort Lauderdale, FL TEXT Roberta Klein
The home perches majestically atop a gentle rise on Hillsboro Beach. Its curving driveway leads to a parking rotunda framed by imposing banyan trees and royal palms. The stately setting is ideal for this grand-scale home. At 17,000 square feet, the residence takes up the major put of a five-acre oceanfront site that extends from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean. Rex Nichols, a Boca Raton-based architect, was both architect and interior designer of this spectacular second residence for an out-of-state couple. Because of the couple's demanding business, social and family commitments, planning meetings were held both in Florida and in their home town. As such, Nichols would fly to his clients' northern home every few weeks to discuss plans over dinner. "I spent enough time with them in this way that the plans were able to evolve," says Nichols. "I would never have been able to learn as much about them if they only came to my office." With its central, glazed rotunda entry and symmetrical balance, this grand estate on Hillsboro Beach is a modern interpretation of classical design.
A program was also initiated to visually hide the condominium. "Lack of sun was not an issue, because the pool was a tropical lagoon with sun-flecked shadows," says Roy. "We were more concerned with creating a buffer between the neighbors." Using sabal palms, 80-foot tall Norfolk Island pines, native banyan trees and Washington palms rising up to 100 feet, Roy created layers to shield the space. A remarkable cluster palm that now forms a peninsula in the lagoon was found in a small town near Tampa. "We cut it in four parts, transported it in four semi-trailers and reassembled it on site," says Roy. This splendid estate goes far beyond its visual beauty. It provides such pleasure to its owners that it has become their primary residence. The pool at oceanfront is much like a lagoon, replete with an old cluster palm that creates a peninsula. Caves and water-falls add to the rugged effect of the morning pool's tropical environment. Columns and trellises surround the lap pool at the southwest exterior of the home. Both this pool and the morning pool were coated in a dark blue to hint of the Mediterranean Sea.
Living on the ocean is, indeed, sublime. But building this oceanfront house was no easy task. When the site was purchased, there existed only weed-like Australian pines and Brazilian peppers, the ocean view was completely hidden by damaged seagrapes and a 14 story condominium dominated the north view. "The site was not something to work within, but something to recreate," says Nichols. Over a period of many months, landscape architect Rhett Roy and Nichols worked closely with the Department of Environmental Protection, the regulatory agency for coastal construction and planting, to gain approval for a new beachfront landscape plan. Environmental experts who were brought in to analyze the situation concluded that previous cutting methods had diseased and damaged the seagrapes to such a degree that they could not protect the critical dune in a storm surge. As a result, the environmental agency allowed a replanting that permitted views of the ocean. In keeping with the natural environment, a rustic wooden dune bridge with rope sides provides an enticing walkway to the ocean.