Some 20 years ago, designer Antoine Testard traded the bright lights of Paris for the eternal sunshine of Naples, and he’s never looked back. “I wanted a change,” he says. “I moved here and began doing the only things I was able to do right—my passion—architecture and interior design.” He has spent the last two decades building a reputation for his novel approach to contemporary interiors, placing an emphasis on circulation and continuity from room to room. Turns out, his talent and European flair are a perfect fit for upscale beach living stateside.
While Testard had little trouble making his mark on the Naples design scene, he and his wife, Debbie, didn’t experience the same good fortune when it came to finding a home that met all their needs. “It was always something. The kitchen and the living room were either too small or too big. It’s very difficult to find the right proportion,” he explains. “I wanted to build a house that fit my life with my wife.” So, armed with a list of their must-haves—corner lot, good location close to downtown and the beach, lively neighborhood—the couple began to search in earnest for a plot of land that checked all the boxes five years ago. Their tenacity paid off when they found everything they wanted—and more—among the heavily treed streets of charming Lake Park. “It’s an active and coveted little neighborhood that’s within walking distance of the beach, my office, downtown, many parks and the Naples Zoo,” Testard says.
Once the location was secured, it was time to take himself and his wife on as clients. Testard worked from the inside out: “We built the house around what we wanted inside.” Figuring out how to capture all of the couple’s must-haves into 3,500 square feet was no easy feat. “We took two years to design the house. My wife and I had a lot of back and forth. We were more interested in the space—the perception we have of how you can see all the rooms,” he says. “You can’t see any doors (that separate) the living room, kitchen and entry—it’s all connected. And we wanted windows everywhere you look with views of the north, south, east and west.”
When the plans were finalized, the Testards teamed with Naples-based Morton & Wasmer Builders to realize their vision. The result: a three-bedroom, four-bathroom home that’s equal parts style and substance. The interiors showcase tons of natural light, clean lines and a palette of bright whites that are anything but cold. “Color-balancing the white of the home was important to us,” Testard says. That’s where 360-degree views of the greens and blues just outside, inviting areas filled with Italian-made furnishings, and an abundance of perfectly placed artwork by artists such as Pierre Celice and Naples-based Carmelo Blandino and Ran Adler came in. “I started to collect when I was 18 in France. There are a lot of memories based on that artwork,” he says. “Each piece in the collection found its natural location in the home based on the colors specific to each room.”
The designer also managed to meet the unique needs that come with a beach lifestyle without sacrificing any sophistication. In the open kitchen, a Carrara porcelain backsplash pairs with a 12-foot-long island topped with hardworking, indestructible quartz. User-friendly Sunbrella fabrics cover most of the furniture. And the flooring throughout the home is a low-maintenance porcelain tile that’s extra easy to clean. “Having two dogs, it seemed the way to go,” Testard muses.
Although the project began with a focus on the interiors, no one would guess it based on the architectural black-and-white exterior. Surrounded by tall hedges, the contemporary manse feels like it’s in a world all its own. “I wanted to create some depth,” he says of his decision to use the light and dark paint colors on both the front and back facades. “I like the contrast with the white. The black rescales the house a little.”
The project was completed in 2018, and Antoine and Debbie are still in the honeymoon phase, enjoying the fruits of their labor. “Everything was challenging,” he says. “But I love every corner of this house. I have a new perspective every time I look here or there.”