Story by Suzanne Fox Sevel, Photography by Uneek Luxury Tours
Robert and Maria Seelman’s beachside home is named appropriately “Villa Encantada” or enchanted villa. Like its owners, their home is brimming with personality. It is also a study of contradictions: grand and cozy, intimate and convivial, familiar and unexpected, Spanish and American. It is possible for a home to be all these things and still simply be a magical place to live.
This unique yellow home, with ornamental wrought iron balconies, terra cotta barrel tile roof and circular turret, looks as if it would be equally at home in Spain. Stand in the grand entryway and you’ll see that great artistry went into designing this home, with careful attention to quality and detail.
Dr. Robert Seelman, an oncologist, and his wife, Maria, both lovers of the outdoors, discovered the tree-filled lot on Riverside Drive in Indialantic with the idea of building a special home there. Since they both enjoy the creative process, they hired architect David Jackson to bring their ideas to life. The result is an elegant and modern interpretation of old world Spanish architecture with a contemporary twist.
Strong Latin Influences
Maria, who is originally from Castilla y León, Spain, wanted a house that evokes her heritage and her love of the Spanish colonial architectural style. “We wanted to create a house that was unique to the area and representative of a true Spanish style. “This was going to be our little piece of heaven on Earth,” she said. Since Maria was the home’s key designer, her vision is reflected in the mixture of European luxury with personal touches of Spanish creativity.
A tour of the home starts with the entryway: a dramatic vaulted ceiling, marble columns, carved arches and wall niches set the stage. With a minimalist neutral color scheme (and occasional pops of color), the great room is a fine example of an open floor plan with subtly defined spaces, including a living room, dining room, music area, and wet bar, all of which are connected by a polished marble floor. All the rooms on the first floor feature gorgeous water views. Exquisite light fixtures, from Art D’Mexico and Fine Art Lamps, illuminate the great room with cascades of light spilling out like enchanting jewels.
Custom woodwork is apparent throughout the home, from the front door to the original David Vann bookcases, from the black walnut paneled walls in the library to the knotty pine cabinetry in the kitchen. Relief carvings on the two linen-fold bookcases (in rare wormy chestnut), are inscribed with the crest of Spain. The front door, made of a distressed knotty alder, has a French style speakeasy and an antique London doorbell.
Just off the great room, a sunken wet bar offers an intimate place to gather for cocktails; and nearby a walk-in wine cellar keeps a sizable collection of special vintages at the optimal temperature.
Every slab of granite and marble, piece of hand-painted ceramic tile, plank of hardwood, and crown molding flow seamlessly inside this amazing home. Maria designed one of the guest bathrooms using a fanciful color pallet of yellow and blue that echo sunny landscapes, sea and skies.
Making Friends and Family Comfortable
An avid art collector as well as an artist herself (the home is punctuated by some of her original oil paintings), Maria says that “much of my decorating inspiration comes from my upbringing –– we lived about two hours from Madrid –– and from my relatives.” Spanish homes are all about making family and friends feel relaxed and comfortable, which is evident in the Seelman’s home. Her eclectic tastes can also be attributed to her many travels where she takes note of interesting design. “I’ve been to China, Japan, London, Dubai, Moscow, Fiji, Tahiti, Australia, Portugal and Rome,” she said. Some of the best finds for the home were discovered abroad. “This coffee table came from Jaipur, India, and it fits perfectly in here,” she points out.
The designer chef’s kitchen with knotty pine cabinetry is Maria’s favorite room. “I love to cook every day.” Within the ceramic tile backsplash above the gas range are painted the words “Cocine de Maria.” The Seelmans found unique ceramic tiles painted with a blue imprint of fish and food. “We saw these while vacationing in Portugal and dreaming of our home. That’s also when we named the house, over a bottle of wine at dinner,” she recalls.
Dr. Seelman’s favorite room is his library. Black walnut paneling and built-in bookcases embrace an impressive collection of books, providing a perfect reading nook for the avid reader. Above the distinctive fireplace mantle and walnut flooring is a display of two guns,
a sword and an American flag. “The gun belonged to my great, great grandfather and is from Spain. The sword was awarded to my dad when he retired from the U.S. Air Force after 27 years,” explains Maria. This tasteful library has an American feel, with its cozy fireplace, display of books and tribute to the service.
Mediterranean Outdoor Entertaining
The house is perfect for large and small parties and one of the reasons the Seelmans expanded the outdoor area. Maria’s philanthropic activities with the Children’s Home Society, where she is the founder and chairwoman for “The Portraits of Possibilities,” event created a need for a larger entertaining area. The Children’s Home Society is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to changing and improving the lives of abused and neglected children and one of Maria’s biggest passions. Because of her leadership role in the organization, she wanted an outdoor space with tables and a large seating area for sponsors and fundraisers.
The outdoor terrace and tiled kitchen are a continuation of the Mediterranean themes inside with bold colors that complement the Italian-tiled pool. The porches are Mexican terra cotta. Beautiful rough cut Saturnia tile leads to the resort-style pool that blends perfectly with the outdoor gardens. At the water’s edge is a dock and boatlift. “We built the dock first. My father was big into fishing then and we wanted him to enjoy his favorite sport here,” she said.
The newest addition to the home is the large ceramic tiled gazebo, with a built in fire pit, all made with hand-painted green, blue and yellow Italian tiles. The fire pit is surrounded by bright yellow upholstered sofas for a relaxing tropical ambience.
Mastering the view
High wooden support beams, hand-made with beautiful Pecky Cypress create visual interest on the vaulted ceiling, while the circular staircase with intricate wrought iron balusters lead to the bedrooms on the second floor. The spacious master suite offers panoramic views of the Indian River and the pool grounds below. Romantic and luxurious, this bedroom offers a cozy fireplace, adjoining master bath, double shower, Jacuzzi tub, bidet and walk in closets/dressing areas.
The house, which is made of solid concrete, has walls and ceilings made of distressed plaster and painted with faux finishes for an aged look and texture. “It gives it an authentic Spanish flavor,” Maria said.
Robert and Maria Seelman were married in Rome in the oldest courthouse in the world, designed by none other than Leonardo DiVinci. Maria studied art, architecture, tile, stone and interior design books. They both researched all the aspects of Mediterranean style for their home and found the right craftspeople to bring these ideas to reality.
This magnificent yellow beachside home has the power to transport you across the ocean to Spain. Imagine hard enough and you just might feel the pull of the Mediterranean Sea.