Bird Key Beauty

One day Dawn and Ric Duques looked at each and realized they had outgrown their condo. With four adult children, their spouses, 11 grandchildren, and a Parson Russell terrier they rescued, the condo lifestyle wasn’t working anymore.  

It was time for a new home—one that could fit their active lifestyle. Dawn and Ric had a good idea of what they wanted. First, it needed to be large enough to comfortably fit their extended family. Second, it needed space—indoors and outdoors—to entertain. Third, they wanted it to be on the water. 

They found exactly what they were looking for while touring Bird Key, an exclusive island community that boasts extraordinary waterfront estates and lush natural surroundings. The double corner lot they chose was perfect—with 270-degree, panoramic views of Big Pass and the canal. The property, which included a house, had an adjacent vacant lot.

The Duques initially planned to build a new house for their children on the vacant site. But, as they spent more time onsite, they quickly realized that a better idea would be to build a grand residence where everyone could be together. That’s when they reached out to Clifford Scholz of CMSA.

Brainstorming sessions on the house’s design began at CMSA. Dawn was the family’s point person in these creative discussions. After a series of fruitful meetings, the concept of the family’s welcoming new waterfront home took shape. Clifford expanded on the original vision of a contemporary style design to embrace a French transitional style—classic lines with a broad, contemporary twist. The resulting style looks and feels timeless, with elegant features and open, light-filled spaces. 

 “Collaboration is essential to our process,” says Clifford. “It begins with understanding the clients’ goals, lifestyle, and architectural expectations. Our process of inquiry begins with listening to their dreams—and then guiding them through that process as partners. Dawn was wonderful to work with.”

After the design crystalized, Perrone Construction got to work turning the dream home into reality. Once complete, the Duques’ new residence comprised approximately 6,600 square feet of air-conditioned space and 1,500 square feet of covered terrace space.  

The Duques’ new home has plenty of room. There is even plenty of space for a second dog—a Goldendoodle named Monte Carlo. The Duques love the daily surprises of the gorgeous bayfront view—and the house’s interior as well. 

“I can’t say enough about how much we love the design,” notes Dawn. “There are so many exquisite details, both inside and out.”

Dawn adds that their new home is still a work in progress. She’s managing all of the interior design work herself—though she wouldn’t call it “work.” Dawn has previously designed the interiors of the Madison Beach Hotel in Madison Beach, CT—and she’s currently overseeing the renovation of two other homes. For her, it’s a labor of love. Dawn has an innate sense of design — and takes joy in eclectic creativity. She also loves sharing her artistry with the people close to her. 

“Our home has such a warm, inviting atmosphere,” she says. “I’m filling it with photos of family and friends and mementos from our many trips to 116 countries around the world.”

According to Clifford, the Duques’ warm-hearted, welcoming home is exactly what he was going for. “Ric and Dawn are big-hearted, open-minded people—and the house’s open plan really suits them and their lifestyle,” he says. 

“Their experience is intimately connected with the glories of the outside world. Their home has one of the best views of Big Pass I’ve ever seen. By design, the house’s orientation makes the most of that visual splendor. Standing at the front door, you can look through the house and beyond the pool and see the pass straight on.” 

 “We fill it with friends, family, and our canine companions as well,” adds Dawn. “Our house is filled with love, and there’s always room for more!”

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