Design help for the downsizing resident


 PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see images from the Golden Gate Point redesign.

Interior designer Cameron Cox's clients, a couple from Iowa who recently bought a 3,300-square-foot condominium at La Bellasara on Golden Gate Point, commissioned her to reimagine their apartment to give them as much comfort, convenience and spacious feel as their larger home in Harbor Acres once did.

The couple have 10 grown children and 23 grandchildren who love to vacation in Florida and were none too thrilled so see their grandparents downsize. The homeowners have been coming to Florida for 24 years.

"Turns out the kids love the amenities in this place," said grandmother. "They use the swimming pool, exercise facilities, game room and they're still so close to the beach that none of us feels we are missing a thing. They even fish off the pier.

"Because of how we reconfigured the inside spaces and because we got rid of a few things we really didn't need, this condominium is the perfect vacation getaway. No maintenance, beautiful views of the water, terraces with an outdoor kitchen and plenty of room inside. We honestly don't miss the big house at all."

Cox said the renovation took about seven months and success depended upon a strategy for downsizing as well as accomplishing some welcome upgrades for the homeowners.

"We spent three weeks just resurfacing all the ceilings to make them smooth and we paid a lot of attention to the ceiling paint treatments," said Cox. "Now there are three different paint colors on the tray ceiling in the living room, and the dining room ceiling is a combination of paint and copper foil paper. The recessed lighting was already here, but we changed every single light fixture in the home."

AHBlinn12The designer minimized the use of table lamps to keep side tables clear. Then she and the homeowners opted for custom built-ins for convenient and good-looking storage.

"We took part of an existing built-in in the living room and repurposed it for the breakfast area making a practical hutch and serving buffet," continued the designer. "Then we put a new storage unit that runs the length of the wall in the living room. It was custom designed to hold the husband's 72-inch flat-screen television. Made of ash and custom stained, it's a combination of closed and open storage and has tile accents and stained-glass doors. It's a beautiful piece of furniture, but it's also totally practical which is the ideal combination in a downsizing scheme." Marc Bresee of Elite Woodworking fabricated the built-ins.

There's another clever built-in that's in one of the guest bedrooms. The wife is a quilter and wanted her sewing equipment in Florida, and she needed a place to store fabric and organize thread.

A built-in that looks like a French-door closet, swings open to reveal a fold-down table to hold the sewing machine and shelves for separating fabric.

The breakfast area is brand new and the homeowners took a leap of faith and authorized designer Cox to bring in melon-orange leather chairs, an orange-and-white tile hand-painted backsplash in the kitchen (from Tile Market) and an orange-patterned Roman shade on the breakfast room window that has a view of the bay and the city skyline. La Bellasara condominium complex was built in 2006. Cox's clients bought their fourth-floor unit from the heir of the original owner.

Cox made the bathrooms glamorous with elegant wallpaper and upscale fixtures and accessories that include expensive light fixtures and a handsome mirror that Cox found at the Women's Exchange.

The clients brought most of their artwork from their former home and added a few pieces that Cox sourced at places such as the William Hartman Gallery on Palm Avenue. When choosing the dining and breakfast table and end tables in the living room, designer Cox encouraged the clients to select rounded pieces. They visually take up less room in a downsized space and there are no sharp corners to contend with, making contoured pieces safer as well as good looking.

The wife calls her new home reductive. "We simplified our lives and our possessions in the best possible ways," she said. "Now we truly have a vacation place that makes us feel like we're on vacation. And the views are just amazing. It makes me wish I were an artist and could paint some of these scenes."


Marsha Fottler

Marsha Fottler has been a newspaper and magazine lifestyle, food and design writer since 1968 first in Boston and in Florida since 1970. She contributes to regional and national publications and she is co-publisher and editor of a monthly online magazine that celebrates the pleasures of the table called Flavors & More. (941) 371-8593.
Last modified: April 12, 2013
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