BY SUZANNE FOX SEVEL | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROB DOWNEY
Building a large beach home with a contemporary feel in Melbourne Beach can be a huge undertaking, but with the right vision it is well worth the effort. For Jim and Kathy Chell, what came first was the inspiration: a family trip to the Keys. Here, they had rented a three-story house with incredible views of the Atlantic from all the floors. They loved the design and wanted to recreate the same type of house – and the feeling along with it – in Melbourne Beach. The result is a stunning riverfront home that reflects the Chells’ interests and hobbies, while taking full advantage of the area’s natural light and water views.
Jim Chell, a CPA and owner of Chell Financial, and his wife, Kathy, a retired nurse, wanted a home where they could relax, entertain and enjoy the future retirement. They also wanted a place where their three grown children (and four grandchildren) could visit, stay and play.
The Chells are outdoor enthusiasts: Jim is an avid surfer, fisherman and cyclist while Kathy enjoys tennis. Once they found the property, the next step was hiring CBC Builders to execute their vision.
Jim and Kathy scoured the Internet for ideas. The homes Kathy favored had wooden beams inside, so that became a big part of the design. Jim knew he wanted three stories, so he found the original floor plan of the house they had rented.
The Chells enlisted the help of their long-time friend and designer Deborah Sands, of Interior Design Associates Inc. Deborah had worked with Kathy on two of her previous homes and was familiar with Kathy’s lifestyle and taste. Deborah favors contemporary design, natural fibers and neutral colors.
“Deb went above and beyond in helping us with the interior design. She went over every detail: the cabinet designs, tile, paint color, lighting and furniture. The amount of choices you have to make when building a home can be overwhelming,” says Kathy.
◆ It’s All About the View
Upon walking into the Chell home, the first thing you’ll notice is the view. Water and sunshine frame the living and dining rooms like a work of art. This home was designed to capitalize on the magnificent view of the Intracoastal Waterway. With the principal rooms (entry, living room, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom) all on the second floor, the focal areas offer excellent views of the trees, light, sky and water.
◆ Shades of Gray
A porcelain tile floor, designed in a wide-planked gray woodgrain in the color of driftwood, unites the second floor rooms as well as the terrace outside. Surrounded by clean lines, natural colors and organic textures, each element in the Chell home appeals to nature and art. Reclaimed hand-hewn wooden beams in the great room are both elegant and rustic.
In the kitchen, custom maple cabinets in gray are a louvered shaker style and counters, backsplash and oversized kitchen island are topped in Nacarado Quartzite natural stone. Behind the stovetop is a backsplash in stainless steel tiles. Open shelves have nooks for Kathy’s pottery collection and suede bar stools surround the island for informal meals and gatherings.
A Varaluz Affinity drum light hangs in the dining room above the custom round oak dining table. Woven leather, gray McGuire chairs surround the table.
◆ Bringing the Outside In
The floor-to-ceiling pocketing glass doors open to an expansive terrace that is ideal for alfresco afternoons or evening entertaining. One side of the deck features a long teak dining table; the other is a lounge area complemented by a vintage rattan love seat, chairs and a glass topped accent table.
◆ Classic and Contemporary
Inside the living room, a soft neutral palette of oyster grays, cloudy whites and accents of papaya is inviting and comfortable. The Vanguard sofa in linen is joined by a pair of white upholstered Tommy Bahama club chairs and a gray Ochre nubuck leather “snooze chair.” A Tibetan rain drum doubles as a side table. The rug, made of natural seagrass, ties the room together.
◆ Modern Masters
In the master bedroom, a Lexington bed in maple and iron anchor the room along with a tall antique chest from Drexel Studio. A Clyde Butcher photograph of the Everglades decorates the wall. Just off the bedroom is the modern master bathroom, where a Robert Abbey crystal chandelier hangs elegantly over a freestanding soaking tub. Floors are swathed in polished marble tile with a walk-in marble and glass enclosed shower.
On the stairway, bronze, twig-shaped railings were “designed to evoke the shape of mangrove roots,” explains Deborah. Two flights of oak stairs lead to the third floor while an elevator offers an alternate route.
One bedroom is African themed, with a banana leaf headboard and bold colors. The room features many exotic pieces of Kenyan art collected by Jim’s mother who traveled to Africa frequently. The other bedroom faces the river and is designed with a metal-framed queen bed and walls are punctuated with bright modern artwork. A terrace off this bedroom has a sitting area offering the home’s best view of the river and the gardens. “Jim takes his breakfast up here almost every morning,” says Kathy.
◆ The Sporting Life
The entire first floor and four car garage is largely devoted to Jim’s workshop and sports gear (surfboards, kayaks, mountain bikes and fishing rods.) Tool chests and equipment, neatly surrounding a work island, hint at a variety of projects. Photos of Jim’s favorite fishing expeditions decorate the walls, from roosterfish in Panama to trophy fish in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, even bonefish in Andros. There is also a fourth bedroom and bathroom on this floor.
In the backyard, a wooden plank pathway, surrounded by blooming bougainvillea, leads to the dock where two boats wait in the lifts: a power catamaran for sailing and a flats boat for fishing.
Turquoise Bahama Shutters on the house’s white exterior evoke a casual, yet upscale Florida Keys’ style. The Chells’ home reflects Kathy and Jim’s natural feel for beauty, simplicity and art. This lovely riverfront home is unique and distinctive; one truly designed to be lived in and enjoyed.