A Beautiful Blend of French and English on the Space Coast

Mike and Cindy Harden’s home has all the elements of classic lineage: art that is welcoming, décor that is enticing and furniture that is inviting.  Here the diverse worlds of England, France and Italy mingle with New Orleans to create this breathtakingly beautiful home in Baytree. Blending these seemingly contradictory design worlds, within a gated Floridian golf community, is no small feat in the town of Suntree, but the Hardens make home design appear effortless.

Mike, regional VP of McDonalds Corp for more than three decades, found his post retirement “second act” to be in the area of residential real estate. While planning and building their retirement home in Melbourne, the Hardens were forward thinking: what would life require 10, 15 or even 20 years down the road? So, while building their dream home, an Arthur Rutenberg custom design, Mike found his passion was in the building process and in helping people find and build their own homes. Mike is a co-developer and co-owner of Echelon Builders, a division of Ellingson Properties that specializes in building custom designed luxury homes. Retirement means different things to different people and for Mike it is about doing something you love.

Our Kind of Place
To help decorate and design their new home, Cindy consulted Ohio-based interior designer Leann Snyder. Leann designed five of the Harden’s homes in other cities and has an instinct for adding a new level to a home, mixing the old and the new, the familiar with the unexpected. For this home, she brought in rich textures and colors while incorporating existing antiques, fine art, accessories and adding new designer fabrics. Since the Harden’s previous home was in New Orleans, this one has a decidedly elegant, country French influence.

A light-filled great room opens out onto the lanai with two walls of sliding glass doors literally bringing the outside inside. Walk just about anywhere in the home and there are unobstructed views of the lanai, pool, gardens and the lush trees beyond.

No Pastels, No Palm Trees.
There are many ways that this home capitalizes on the tropics without looking “Floridian.” You won’t find palm trees, pastel colors, or tile floors in the living room, for instance. The Hardens insisted on wide-planked Hickory Campari wood flooring throughout the first floor and on the stairs. They also expanded the floor plan by 1,200 square feet to accommodate their priceless collection of antique rugs and furniture. And far from pastels, this home exemplifies bold and rich colors, from crimson, sage and khaki to coral, salmon and black accents.

Throughout the home, each room is accented with furniture, art, and objects drawn from various historical regions. In the living room, for example, an Aubusson rug, originally designed for a castle in France, fits beautifully underneath of black and white toile sofa and chairs. Two antique armoires flank the walls and a pair of matching botanical oil paintings; antiques from Belgium adorn the wall nearby.

Epicurean Delights
Some say the soul of the home is in its kitchen and for Cindy it’s also her favorite room. Given her love of cooking and entertaining, she enjoys creating masterful meals in her professional grade gourmet kitchen. All the high-end Viking appliances are nestled inconspicuously inside the gorgeous custom Wood-Mode cabinets in vintage white.

Granite countertops adorn the breakfast bar as well as the kitchen island, creating another gathering space. A vintage farmhouse table from Provence sits in the morning room, with a long bench on one side and antique Italian chairs on the other. A distinctive antique pottery piece, also Provençal, serves as the table’s centerpiece.

Just off the kitchen is a butler’s pantry, an area Mike designed. This space is perfect for prepping hors d’oeuvres, mixing drinks or serving wine. The butler’s pantry has a built-in wine cooler, icemaker and sink and features granite countertops and glass front cabinets.

Fine Dining
From the groin-vaulted ceiling to the faux painted walls, this elegant dining room has an old world feel. Overhead, a beautiful Julia Gray crystal and gold chandelier anchors the room, while custom silk window treatments add drama to the arched glass window. The dining table sits on an antique needlepoint rug. An antique olive container from Provence, here doubling as a planter, and chairs with designer upholstery, exude a grand classical style.

Sun, Swim, Daydream
The backyard consists of numerous spaces: lanai, pool deck, spa, outdoor kitchen and while the pool is destined to be a focal point, each space brings its own magic. To create an idyllic resort-like environment, a tiered water fountain offers constant movement of water. A raised white pergola with plaster columns, forms a shaded perch for relaxing with guests or spending time with grandchildren, Blakely and Baxter. Red wicker furniture adds a pop of color and is topped by white tufted canvas upholstery.

Shaken not Stirred
A key feature to the summer kitchen is the unusually long antique oak table from London. This table is said to be from the boarding school in London where author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, did his schoolwork. The table can seat about 10 people and is perfect for al fresco dining and entertaining.

Upstairs Entertainment Area
The original floor plan called for a second deck upstairs, but Mike closed it off to create an extra large office space instead. Mike admits that Cindy was in charge of most of the design aspects of their home, so he put his creative energies into this room. “She gave me one room, right?” Mike chuckles. With generous window views of the wild nature preserve, his office is tastefully designed and accented by exact replicas of F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet aircraft, a gift from their son, Israel, a U.S. Navy Flight Commander. A cherry desk is the focal point of the room, with bookcases displaying books, photos, memorabilia from his McDonald’s career and charity work, and an American flag tribute to his father who was a World War II veteran.

Nearby in the entertainment room, another casual living room doubles as a command central for music. “All music is fully integrated surround sound and can be digitally controlled and accessed from anywhere in the home,” says Mike.

A Master’s in English
The spacious master bedroom exudes comfort and tasteful English-inspired luxury. To create a romantic and restful atmosphere, a mahogany sleigh bed by Ralph Lauren is topped with a sumptuous duvet and accent pillows; bringing out the room’s burgundy, taupe and green tones. Underneath it all is a stately Oushak rug from Turkey. The adjoining master bath provides a blissful spa-like sanctuary with polished marble floors, a stone walk-in shower and oversized garden spa tub framed by statuesque columns. Natural light trickles into this soothing retreat. His and her vanities with custom cabinets and marble sink tops, are situated on opposite sides of the bathroom.

Go With the Flow
Creating a home that is functional, beautiful and one that you enjoy is really about, how everything comes together. “A home is often about something intangible. It’s not about square feet or floor plans, or upgraded this and that. It’s about flow. It’s how people feel inside the home,” said Mike.