Daphne and Robert love living in Manalapan, Florida, just 12km south of Palm Beach. The year-round tropical climate and vast 2,200km coastline make the US state a popular retreat for ocean lovers and the seaview from the couple’s modern home is stunning.
‘My husband made the decision to buy the house without even telling me,’ says Daphne. ‘At first, I was not happy at all about leaving my Mediterranean-style house in Palm Beach. But now I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,’ she says. ‘We spend all our time in the garden. The ocean view is so relaxing.’
The former owners, a Swiss couple, were heavily influenced by the furniture and architecture of the Bauhaus design movement, which emerged in the late 19th century. The style is characterised by economic sensibility, simplicity and mass production combining applied arts and manufacturing. They worked very closely with the architect to introduce the simple, geometric shapes of Bauhaus design to their Florida home, and when Daphne and Robert moved in they barely changed a thing. They loved the façade windows that provide airy and sunny spaces. But what they added to the property’s landscaping makes this house truly unique.
‘The previous owners loved minimalism and kept the outdoor space quite simple with barely any plants,’ Daphne says. ‘But we live here year round, and had to adjust the home for us.’ In order to enjoy sitting poolside and take advantage of the outdoor space, they worked with an architecture firm and a landscape architect.
The first thing they did was add trees and plants to reduce heat and create shadow zones. The landscape architect found a collection of unique and rare plants for the gardens, based on Florida’s natural offerings. He added trails and a driveway made of natural stone and corroded coral. The simple, sleek architectural forms provided an interesting canvas for the landscaping – also allowing plants with a unique texture and character to stand out. Finding the right plants was also tricky because of the large amounts of salt in the air and earth and the often extreme wind, heat and sun. So the majority are native to Florida or places with a similar climate.
There’s a rose garden that leads to a small zen garden, where a stone path winds through buttonwood trees and various tropical plants before giving way to a climbing stream that connects three small ponds. An impressive waterfall keeps the pond water moving, a good trick to prevent algae growth. An added advantage of the waterfall is drainage for those Florida summers when heavy rain showers occur almost daily and hurricanes are common. Luckily, the bamboo, banana and palm trees thrive in this humid climate and add protection. Next to the pond is a cactus garden lined with succulents. Ginger plants and flowers have found a home in shaded areas of the garden too.
The garden designer drew inspiration from a Polynesian garden that focuses on the mellow sound of water and beautiful views to facilitate meditation. With this in mind, he created a path leading out of this secluded area to the terrace adjacent to the beach and the wide-open space of the ocean. Throughout the garden, adding unique visual interest, there are several sculptures and art pieces, collected by the couple over the past 35 years. ‘We love to buy sculptures during our travels,’ says Daphne. ‘Unusual pieces especially appeal to us.’
Up on the main terrace, three indigenous gumbo limbo trees provide a leafy roof to offer shade, which is ideal by the pool where they enjoy relaxing on brightly-coloured sun beds that add a pop of colour to the architecture of the home.