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Publication Date: 2016-06-30

Approachable Elegance in a Florida Home Designed by Andrew Howard

For designer Andrew Howard, more isn’t always more. “Not every piece in a room needs to be the star,” he says. “Every space should have only one or two shining stars. Those elements should take center stage while other pieces fall into the background. If everything stands out, nothing stands out.”

Photography: David A. Land

Inspired by a visit to Chatsworth House, a renowned mansion in Christian’s home country of England, family friends and clients Christian and Manala Douglas wanted a modern version of an English country manor—an unpretentious home with functional, updated, and, most important, family-friendly interiors to accommodate their growing family. (They have two young daughters: London Rose, 4, and Isla, 3.)

The couple took Howard's design advice to heart when working with him on their newest— and hopefully forever—home in Jacksonville, Florida.

“We wanted a home that has a designer look without being unapproachable,” Manala says. “A space that reflects our personalities and looks flawless while still hiding juice accidents.”

So Howard went to work, keeping interiors updated and clean-lined by incorporating relatively sparse plasterwork and avoiding heavy moldings and architectural details. Next, the designer added visual interest with color, sculptural fixtures, and strategically placed pops of pattern.

Photography: David A. Land

In the living room, Howard’s one (or two) shining-star edict holds true. A large-scale antique brass chandelier draws the eye, set against a ceiling stained dark to add what he calls “human scale” to the room.

“That fixture is definitely the centerpiece here,” Manala says. “It feels like a piece of jewelry set off against black velvet. It becomes the Hope Diamond in the room.”

In this space, a dark-painted ceiling becomes the perfect foil for the light fixture from Arteriors.

Photography: David A. Land

That updated coastal color scheme spills over into the kitchen. The living room’s blue is mirrored in countertop-to-ceiling Moroccan-inspired tile. Playing off that hue is a mix of neutral yet elegant elements—from the mirrored cabinets that house Manala’s beloved wedding china to an industrial-style island with a Calacatta Gold marble countertop.

The real showstopper here, however, is the curved-apron hood with brass banding. Other elements were chosen for their supporting roles. “The hood was actually a given before we even started the house,” Howard says. “Manala and Christian had seen it and fallen in love with it.” He notes that he designed everything else in the room so it wouldn’t detract from the hood. “It’s the mack daddy in the room, no doubt,” the designer adds. “Even the lighting was purposefully kept smaller in scale so as not to compete with it.”

Metal details—the brass banding on the hood, brushed nickel and antique brass sconces, and brass and bronze fixtures over the island—were intentionally mixed for depth.

Photography: David A. Land

Though the dining room is arguably all about neutrals and a mix of metals—a grass-cloth wallcovering with faux-gold rivets, curvaceous cream-color dining chairs with nailhead trim, faceted gilt lamps, and a nickel starburst chandelier—the home’s most personal item shines brightly here.

“To me, this room started with the artwork,” says Manala of a brilliantly colored Hermès scarf, which is framed above the credenza. The scarf is special to her because it was a gift from her aunt, but had been in her closet for almost 12 years. “I finally have the right place for it, and it’s really one of the highlights of this house to me. It makes me feel like I’m home.”

Against the room’s otherwise quiet palette, the intricate piece comes to life—serendipitously playing off the home’s coastal-with-a-twist scheme. A marriage made in design heaven.

Photography: David A. Land

Stepping into the home’s more personal zone—the master suite—color becomes less reserved and more personalized.

A mix of textures as well as buoyant color distinguishes the bedroom’s serene atmosphere. A white flokati rug, a tufted headboard, a smattering of animal prints, and heavy, velvety curtains encourage total retreat.

“It’s almost as if you’re given a big bear hug every time you walk into the room,” Howard says with a laugh. Manala wholeheartedly agrees. “It feels like a luxurious, romantic hotel suite,” she says. “It’s toy-free, kid-free, and impactful.”

Amethyst velvet draperies with custom pelmets “feel like they should be in a hotel suite,” says designer Andrew Howard.

To see more of this home, visit

Written by Jenny Bradley Pfeffer
Photography: David A. Land
Produced by Elizabeth Demos

Architectural designer: Kevin Gray, Kevin Gray Design Group, 912-A 1st St. S., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250; 904/372-9350,

Interior designer: Andrew Howard, Andrew Howard Interior Design, 4128 Herschel St., Jacksonville, FL 32210; 904/389-5100,

Stylist: Elizabeth Demos, 912/308-4435,


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