The bates are used to extreme contrasts. They are also used to be stylish trendsetters. When they lived in Derbyshire in England, they took a derelict cotton storage mill that was built in 1812 and turned it into an ultra-modern home on the inside, while keeping its historic look on the outside.
“Our passion was to buy historic buildings and make it very modern inside, but keep the integrity of the building,” says James Bates, who is originally from England. “We made it very modern inside, but retained all the features outside. So when we came to Naples we obviously tried to look to find history and renew for ourselves. There is not too much history in Naples.”
Since they couldn’t find anything old enough to renovate, James and Tara Bates decided to tear down a small old ranch-style home in Naples and build a very modern home on both the inside and outside.
“We decided to do a completely modern home and take it to an entirely different level,” says James. “We chose Old Naples for the beauty of Old Naples and because there is a mix of homes. We thought it would blend in well.”
The stark white two-story house has a very different look from the neighboring homes. The straight lines and various levels make it look almost like snow white Legos put together to create a unique shape. There is an outdoor spiral staircase that leads to a third-story viewing deck. Long rectangular windows keep the straight line shape. And while everything is white on the outside, a burst of hot pink bougainvillea planted above the garage gives it a vibrant splash of color.
Inside, the super modern kitchen appliances sit flush against the wall behind cabinets. A television lowers from the ceiling above a long kitchen island. A half wall of spotless glass, with nary a fingerprint, forms a barrier between the second floor balcony and the family room below. A bathtub with a bubble-shaped chandelier above separates the master bedroom from the master bathroom. An eco-linear flame that burns with clear alcohol forms a two-sided fireplace that can be viewed from the family room and kitchen.
Outside, energy efficient LED lights in the pool make a rainbow of color that dances at night.
Yet even with this extreme modern look, it is still a home of contrasts. Framed along the wall in the dining area are four cardboard hangers depicting the four Beatles. Tara says they were a promotional giveaway in 1964 that are now a collector’s item. “I have always loved the Beatles,” she adds.
Tara, who is an interior designer, took a buffet table and a floating entrance table from the original home and refinished both pieces. “It was from [an area] of the house we took down,” she explains. “It was from the 1960s. It is solid cherry, and that is very rare to find that here.”
There are even more contrasts in the mostly stark white Bates home. A guest room upstairs is decorated in ’70s psychedelic colors. A plastic pink flamingo watering can sits on the lanai that is otherwise decorated in all white. The walls of the family room have a mixture of ethnic art, Florida art and abstract art.
“We do live in Southwest Florida, so I tried to pull some of the colors that are considered to be for this area but not use them in a traditional Florida style, and use them in a more modern mid-century style,” Tara says .
Tara’s favorite room is the family room, complete with a 1970s glass coffee table and gray and white couch that matches the color of their dog, Coco. “I wanted floor to ceiling windows,” Tara says about her favorite room of hers. “I didn’t want windows that stopped at a normal level. I wanted them to go all the way up. I didn’t want a family room and a living room. I wanted one very open space.”
Tara also likes the outside area with its turquoise pool that brilliantly contrasts against the white furniture and the rice husk composite decking. Her other favorite place in the house is the rooftop deck. “We like to entertain on the rooftop for the fireworks,” she says. “We can see the fireworks without the traffic. Our friends come and they can all park and we can watch the fireworks and socialize out there.”
James has a different set of favorite places in the house.
“I love the kitchen and the office,” he says. “I get up early in the morning and I love watching the sun come up and watching people walking their dogs. In the evening, I love the kitchen. We have the drop-down TV and the bar and it overlooks the pool and the garden.”
James also likes the way the lanai and backyard (made private by a wall of trees) can be seen from so many rooms in the house. “Wherever we go around the world, we have a passion for architecture,” he says. “But we really wanted to feel like we were living outside when we were inside. We moved to Florida for the sunshine and the blue skies. After 40 years of gray skies, I got tired of it.”
The Bates also like how easy it is to live in the large home. “We designed it to live like a single-level condo,” James explains. “Everything we need is on this one level. Upstairs is for guests. Apart for going up to the roof deck when friends come over, we just live down here.”
Ever since 2013 when the Bates moved into their three bedroom, plus den, 3.5 bath home that spans 3,720 square feet under air, people have been flocking to see it.
“We continually got, and still do get, people who want a house like this,” James says. “You see people taking photographs of the house. We have notes left at the door asking if we would ever sell it. We are very happy here. We love the neighborhood. We love the house so we decided we would build a similar home with all the similar features. Last year they completed a similar but larger version of their home that is now on the market for $3.6954 million.