Balancing Act: 

Making the most out of volumetric space.

Text John T. O’Connor

Photos Myro Rosky

For New York transplant, Steven Charlton, the search to find just the right home was everything. He was clear in his mind what he was looking for, and had a firm handle on what made financial sense. He wanted to enjoy life on the water, and definitely wanted a small boat – nothing bigger than a Runabout really – so east Wilton Manors neighborhoods made sense to explore. He wanted to entertain as well, so a good pool, a grill area and an abundance of tropical landscaping were all in the picture he was creating. But most of all he was looking for something with volumetric space and lots of glass. Mark Williams, his sales agent from Castelli Real Estate, understood. “The minute I saw it, I knew this was going to be the one,” Williams told us. “I knew he’d love the volumetric space and the expanses of glass.” 

Ingo Maurer’s Zettel’z 5 chandelier hangs at the center of the 2-story living room looking towards the pool and canal beyond.

As Charlton puts it, he was “looking for a vertical house in a horizontal town.” Through Williams’ constant searching, low and behold, this rarity revealed itself. A little scruffy… a little neglected… and ripe for renovation. 

As much of east Wilton Manors was developed from the mid-1950’s through the mid-1970s most homes tended to be very horizontal, with ceiling heights of eight feet. To find a home that strayed from that formula was a rarity. Charlton, who spent decades in a field where aesthetics are everything, attacked the home’s renovation with passion. He loved that – because the home was two full stories – it took up much less of the lot’s square footage. This made the garden space much more generous and allowed it to wrap the house. On the exterior, Charlton worked to emphasize the flow of this space, from the street to the canal, creating a courtyard, enveloped by tropical plantings. He paved the pool area with silver travertine and emphasized the area’s mid-century roots with new V-shaped piloti for the roof that shelters the front entrance.  

Replacing an unused porch with floor-to-ceiling glass allowed the façade along the canal to glow like a vitrine for fine art. Eaves were extended outwards around the entire structure, visually grounding the home to its site.

For the renovation, which included new baths, new floors, electrical, plumbing, window and door replacement and more, Charlton brought on both Highend International Construction and Field Agency Architecture. The latter of these two refers to this as the “Peelback” house. According to Pedro Rojas, an architect who worked on the project, “We realized that this house was in need of some very surgical interventions. This meant peeling-back the layers and returning the home to its simplest form. With this awareness, the understanding of the site’s unique properties, and with design input from the owner, we were able to make some very simple moves that complemented the space and existing structure.” One of the most important design changes, according to the owner, was to rework the cramped master bedroom. “The master suite was small with a useless outdoor deck,” Charlton told us. “Once we had it enclosed with floor to ceiling glass, it became a bright but tranquil sitting space perched up at the level of the treetops.”

With the exterior’s new overhangs complete and the entire structure resurfaced with stucco, the home was ready to be furnished. Charlton devised a neutral interior of mostly black and white, to contrast with the tropical surroundings enjoyed through huge glass windows in almost every room. A few pieces set the mood for the home, including one of German designer Ingo Maurer’s best known light fixtures, the Zettel’z 5, which was designed with blank sheets of thin, Japanese paper meant to be written or drawn on by its owners. 

A Della Robbia sectional rests on a graphic rug from the Phillips Collection, while a Frank Stella hanging on the wall leads to the dining room. 

It’s that thoughtful placement of just a few meaningful pieces that makes this Coral Point home the happy spot it is for Charlton and his Standard Poodle, Pablo. But it’s the home’s connection to nature, underscored by some terrific ideas brought to fruition in a meticulous renovation, that make this home for a New York transplant truly exceptional. 

Carpeting in the master bedroom is Mod Café from Flor. The Double Wide chaise is a custom order from Judith Norman. The S-shaped chair is a vintage piece by Danish designer Verner Panton.
V-shaped piloti support the roof over the entry.