Not that long ago, children were barely meant to be seen, let alone heard—especially when it came to matters of home design. Those days are long gone, as far as designer Michelle DeLaCruz is concerned. When she and her husband, homebuilder Lupe, began designing a nearly 3,000-square-foot oasis in the backyard of their Fort Myers home, they looked to their children for input. While the palette and architecture are Santorini-inspired, 14-year-old Geo and 11-year-old Mia deserve all the credit for what has become the most popular element with visiting children and adults alike: the slide. “That was the first thing they came up with, and they definitely made sure to tell me, ‘Mom, this can’t be a baby slide,” DeLaCruz says with a laugh.
While the designer initially had reservations, she ultimately figured out how to design a barely there, sculptural structure that works well with the rest of the aesthetic. By painting the slide white and integrating it into the adjacent cave-like lounge area and cupola (which harkens to an iconic structure in DeLaCruz’s native Puerto Rico), she managed to create something that makes everyone happy. “It’s really fast, so the children love it, but it doesn’t look at all kid-ish,” she says. “I call it a ‘sexy slide.’”