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Making a Splash

Interior designer Megan Winters makes gorgeous summer living easy year-round with a North Shore family’s warm-weather refuge in Florida.

Inspired by her clients’ navy-and-white boat (docked outside), Winters layered blue-and-white rugs over a sisal rug and covered the furnishings in complementary fabrics. Blurring the distinction between inside and out, the covered porch with fireplace is perfect for dining, entertaining and long conversations with friends and family. 

“This is a happy, bright, high-energy house,” explains Lake Forest-based interior designer Megan Winters of the five-bedroom getaway home in Naples, Fla., that she designed for a Lake Forest couple with four grown children. Winters spent six months on the project, during which time she redesigned the kitchen, incorporated a new addition with a family area and a guest suite, and helped the owners to select furnishings. “We wanted a classic but comfortable look with some pizzazz, and Megan fit the bill,” the wife explains.

Indeed, this house has pizzazz to spare. The aforementioned kitchen features custom white cabinetry and a black center island, which is illuminated by a trio of polished nickel nautical pendants. Along one wall, the designer created a banquette with black-and-white-striped crocodile that she detailed with nailhead trim. “The contrast makes things interesting,” Winters says, pointing to the large, custom black and nickel hood, which stands out like a sculpture against the white subway tile backsplash. A grass cloth wallcovering from Ralph Lauren adds warmth and a tactile quality. “This kitchen melds chic and casual.”

The same can be said even about the formal living room, where Winters used texture and finish to create excitement among the calm neutral tones. One of the first things that visitors see is a pair of vintage brass chairs positioned behind a tufted sofa facing the entry foyer. Winters picked them up at a flea market in Paris and had the seats recovered in Mongolian lamb hair. “The living room functions as the neutral entry for the house, but it still has a lot of personality,” Winters explains, pointing to the fanciful brass chandelier that illuminates the seating area in front of the fireplace. “We ripped out the original gas-burning fireplace and created a real one with a French limestone mantel,” she says.

Above the fireplace, Winters incorporated four curvaceous brass sconces, which she layered atop each other in groups of two to emphasize the high ceilings. On the other side of the room, she created a gallery of artwork by Cathy Daley. “My clients are one of the happiest couples that I’ve ever met, and I wanted their home to reflect that sense of fun,” Winters says.

Lighthearted touches appear and delight throughout the nearly 8,000-square-foot home. In the family room, Winters concealed the TV behind a set of salvaged barn doors upon which she hung vintage swimming suits that have been framed as artwork. In the wife’s office, she juxtaposed a gilded French antique desk with a graphic wallcovering depicting zebras jumping on a bold yellow background. “That’s when we knew we were going to get along,” the wife says, recalling the email from Winters introducing the design. “There’s playfulness in every room that makes me smile.”

The sense of play even extends to the patio, where red and white Flamenco umbrellas provide shade for a comfortable pair of lounge chairs that overlook the in-ground swimming pool and the waterfront. “They remind me of ball-gown fabric,” Winters says.

Nearby, a covered porch with areas for dining and conversations around the fireplace blurs the distinction between inside and out. Inspired by her clients’ navy-and-white boat, which they keep docked just outside the family area, Winters adopted a similar color scheme for the outdoor rooms, layering blue-and-white rugs over a large sisal rug and incorporating furnishings covered in complementary fabrics. “The covered outdoor living area is what sold us on the house, and that space is very well used,” the wife explains.

Also well used are the sleeping quarters that Winters designed for the couple and their many guests. In a two-room guest suite, Winters created a white and cream palette with comfortable sofas and a cocktail table made from salvaged architectural artifacts. Warmth and interest come from the subtle striped wallcovering, the dark hardwood flooring and a bead board ceiling in the sleeping area. “Design comes down to editing and focusing in on the details,” says Winters. “Those details don’t necessarily scream out at people, but they make the room
feel special.”

According to the owners, such attention to detail made Winters stand out from other designers they interviewed. “My husband is the kind of man who needs a spreadsheet, and she made sure that everything happened on time and on budget,” the wife explains. “I can’t say enough great things about working with Megan. It was beyond our expectations.”