This Kristen Williams project was featured in Home & Design May 2015
To own this home is to own a lifestyle. One block from the shops and restaurants of 5th Avenue, and one block from the beach, this property is all about the location. Formerly a tired pink rental house built in 1984, this fixer upper sat at the intersection of Naples’ two most coveted streets, 5th Avenue and Gulf Shore Boulevard. When designer/developer, Kristen Williams of KW Properties, acquired this corner property, she made it her mission to completely transform the space while maintaining the original footprint. Against all odds, she resolved to revive this beach getaway into a cottage that came to be known as “Barefoot Elegance.”
“The house had really good bones; it just needed a new outfit,” explains Matt Kragh, owner of MHK Architecture & Planning. “We tore out everything but the shell and replaced it with a new Old Florida look and all new architectural detailing.”
“My process always involves calling Steven Jallad at MHK Architecture & Planning. Steve is my unsung hero. No great idea has ever been mine alone. Steven will sketch, I will talk, and we both dream,” shares Williams. Their effortless collaboration is the driving force behind the success of these renovations. “I really enjoy working with Kristen. I admire her philosophy of renovating an existing home to bring it up-to-date, all while keeping the scale and charm of the old cottage look,” says Jallad. “It was a great accomplishment to keep the home in the same footprint but give it a whole new feel and look.”
The builder that made it all happen was Marc Hatcher of The Rock Custom Homes. Hatcher and his lifelong cohorts caught the vision and ran with it. They took ownership, suggested impressive changes, and had the skills to make anything happen. When working with an existing structure, there is always the challenge of the unknown. Hatcher’s 40 year friend, carpenter Dave Partridge, drew rave reviews for his construction and finish work. Scott Gundeck, builder of the wood doors and products in the home, was like a skilled surgeon with raw wood. The job site became like a family as team members shared their life together for almost a year.
The large organic teak bench in the entry has an interesting story of its own. Dan Luckey of Alwayz Moving has moved many of the unusual pieces acquired for these projects. While driving down Bonita Beach Road, he saw a mysterious piece of furniture on a roadside truck. What do you do when you see such a rare treasure? Call Kristen, of course. When she arrived at the scene, her gut told her that this was either a huge mistake or the best purchase ever. It took four men, a rolling platform, a chain saw, and five hours to move it into the home. Taking these types of risks and making these leaps of faith are exactly how Kristen has been able to develop a signature style that is distinct yet undefined.
The living room came together with a chic safari theme that unfolds around the Ralph Lauren coffee table and sofas. When it came to making decisions on the interior details, Kristen turned to her friend Jett Thompson for assistance. “Jett has a great style. She mixes new and old like I do, and her store has a magical selection of finishing touches that make a house a home,” explains Williams.
“Working together was seamless,” describes Thompson, owner of Jett Thompson Antiques & Interiors. “We share a similar design philosophy, clean and minimal with an organic vibe, so we literally had it pulled together in about an hour. THE vision for restoring and renovating these classic Naples cottages is genius. It is such a gift to the community to have someone preserving the past for the next generation,” concludes Thompson.
The breathtaking wide plank floors throughout the home come from the exclusive and innovative Mafi brand. One of the first questions asked by visitors is, “tell me about the floors!” Mafi has differentiated their product with a handful of features including balanced engineered three-layer construction, an all natural plant based finish, and individually tailored floors for each client. “We are thrilled to have worked with Kristen on our first project in Southwest Florida,” says Mafi representative David Fleming. “Our floors work perfectly with the style and open concept of this home.”
The company responsible for the installation of the Mafi floors was Wilderness Furniture & Floors. “It takes finesse and a specific skillset to install this flooring successfully,” explains Mark Hernandez, owner of Wilderness Furniture & Floors. They are the only company in the area that is licensed to install a Mafi floor, and they pride themselves on providing the highest quality services in the Naples market.
Taking a chopped-up floor plan, and turning it into one open and expansive great room, really paid off. “Originally the kitchen was in the center of the whole space and everything was divided by walls. Now you walk in and can see right outside to the outdoor living area,” explains Jallad.
The new plan called for a kitchen with a simple design and clean lines that utilized the space to its maximum potential. Hatcher recommended Craig LeBeau, the owner of Studio West Cabinetry, to create all of the home’s custom cabinetry. “Working with THIS team was an all-around great experience for us. We all worked well together and were able to achieve the final product of Kristen’s vision,” describes LeBeau.
The design for each room started with a painting by Bob Ransley. “His art is fun, bright, and whimsical. I knew a collection of his works would be the perfect jumping off point for the type of atmosphere that should be created in each room of this home,” expresses Williams. “I purchased each piece from Gallery One on Fifth Avenue.” The master bedroom draws its colors from his crab painting. Continuing to use a mixture of glam and rustic elements, bold statements are made with an oversized gold lantern chandelier and large mounted antlers over the bed.
The outdoor living area is clean and sophisticated. On the hunt for a perfect arrangement of lanai furniture, Kristen stopped by Traditions Classic Home Furnishings, a favorite store in downtown Naples. Right at the front door sat the impressive JANUS et Cie chaise lounge chairs that can be seen on the lanai of this home today. What sets Traditions apart from many furniture stores is their unique approach to inventory. They sell everything off the floor, so you can come in to shop, and take your purchases home with you that same day. “Our store has a really creative energy. We remerchandise the showroom weekly, which is one reason why customers love to shop here,” shares Suzanne Schumann, owner of Traditions Classic Home Furnishings.
The old kidney shaped pool was replaced by a new linear and contemporary design. “We responded to the request to update the existing pool with a full design, shape, and feature renovation by integrating fire and water features as well as a seamless spa addition,” describes Mitch Hamilton of Kool Poolz Design & Construction.
The entire project was a tremendous team effort. Kristen’s right-hand woman, Mary Catherine White of Naples White House Luxury Real Estate, was an integral part of the process from start to finish. “We wanted this house to be the sand in your toes, playful, exhilarating and fun…not the norm,” explains White. “Kristen can see beyond what most people see. She has the mind of a banker, the heart of a philanthropist, the artistic flair of a designer, and the vision of a developer. It’s such a privilege to walk alongside KW Properties. It is always our goal to breathe new life into a house grown tired in a great location. Along the way, we learn as much as we contribute which adds to the joy of the journey and the work.”
Written by Kelsey Miklavcic
Photography by Giovanni Photography