A Modern Home For a Design-Savvy Family in Florida

A design-build firm with a flair for modernism creates a stylish indoor/outdoor living space in Winter Park.
Text by

A Florida couple's relationship with Phil Kean, president of the Phil Kean Design Group, goes back a couple of years, to when they first approached him seeking help remodeling a house they were thinking of buying in Winter Park, Florida.

An enclosed courtyard, bordred by ipe, is arguably the most distinctive feature of the house that the Phil Kean Design Group created for a family in Winter Park, Florida.

The house was a relatively modest cottage that had been added onto a few times, and "they wanted to change everything," Kean recalls. "So it got to a point where it became clear that it would be more financially fruitful for them if they just started from scratch."

The red door was the homeowner's idea, says Phil Kean, president of the Phil Kean Design Group. It adds a splash of color to the front courtyard, which is simply landscaped with gravel and low-maintenance plants. A water feature was installed next to the James Hardie fiber-cement siding.

The couple, who have two young girls, found a lot near a lake in Winter Park—an old-by-Florida-standards community near Orlando. One of the homeowners, an interior designer, had particular ideas about what she wanted in her new home. She wanted it built in a modern style with plenty of healthy and sustainable elements, including low-VOC materials and furnishings.

Ipe makes another appearance in the living room, creating a strong indoor/outdoor connection. Kean sited the transom windows to capture views of the moss-covered trees in the backyard.

"One of their reasons for building new versus remodeling was that they could really control all the pieces that went into the house," Kean says. "Things like foam insulation, all of that stuff. There is no off-gassing. The cabinets, even the furnishings, were all formaldehyde-free. All of those things were important to them."

The kitchen counters and islands reflect a relatively simple material palette.

Security was another priority for the couple. It was this concern that drove what is arguably the most distinctive feature of the resulting house—an entrance courtyard that is enclosed in ipe. The windows on the front facade are small; the house gets most of its natural light and ventilation via expansive accordion-style glass doors that open onto a rear patio with a swimming pool.

The floors in the kitchen are polished concrete.

Some of the materials—notably the ipe—are found both inside and outside the house, giving the building and property a cohesive look and blurring the distinction between indoors and out. A lanai, or covered veranda, immediately off the living room enhances this effect. A set of retractable screens allows it to be used even during the six or so months out of the year that Kean describes as the "buggy season."

Wood was used more extensively in the master bedroom. "I think the intention was just to warm it up and make it more cozy," Kean says. A wood-covered "disappearing door" cleverly conceals a closet.

"You hit a button and those screens go down, and that whole lanai is screened off," he says. "You can open up the house and, if it’s buggy, keep the bugs out of the house."

Accordion-style glass doors open the living room up to a lanai, or covered veranda, that in turn opens via a pair of retractable screens onto a pool deck. The effect is to create a single seamless space that merges the living room with the outdoors.

The house was completed in the spring of 2014 after about a year, with Kean’s company, a design-build firm, handling the construction. Two designers worked with the homeowner on the interiors—Rob Turner, president of interior design at the Phil Kean Design Group, and Jose Cabrera, the owner of C L Studio of Orlando.


Last Updated

Get the Dwell Newsletter

Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.