You get used to moving when you’re married to one of America’s most beloved interior design and lifestyle personalities – because there’s always another house she wants to tackle.
So, when Kevin and Chris Madden decided they wanted to find a place in Florida, they visited some of Kevin’s former colleagues from Condé Nast Publications who were living in Southwinds at the Moorings.
“We loved Vero Beach ever since,” says Kevin, noting their first Vero home was on Windward Way in the Moorings.
As the Maddens began to spend more and more time in Vero Beach, and their sons got married and more and more family and friends visited, the couple decided they needed something larger with a pool to accommodate the steady flow of visitors.
The Maddens found what they were looking for in the British West Indies-style home at 2217 W. Ocean Oaks Circle in Ocean Oaks West.
The wide, brick paver driveway contrasts with the verdant green of the grass and shrubbery against the two-tone house. The white, upper level enhances the sky-blue first story, creating a dramatic contrast. “When we walked in, it had a wonderful feeling of space,” recalls Kevin.
Chris Madden, who passed away at age 73 in 2022, was an interior designer and “early HGTV host who lent her name to furniture and housewares lines.”
In the late 1990s, her book on women’s private sanctuaries touched a nerve,” according to the New York Times.
Based on her many design books, Chris’ design philosophy stemmed from the belief that a home should be “a special place that offers a sense of sanctuary,” a feeling that she and Kevin spent 10 years lovingly creating in the Ocean Oaks West home.
“MR Homes was the original developer of Ocean Oaks West,” says listing agent Erika Ross, a realtor with The Moorings Realty Sales Co., noting the quality millwork and details throughout the house. The real boon here, she adds, is that Kevin is willing to negotiate the purchase of some of the furnishings. Many of the pieces were designed by Chris throughout her distinguished career.
“She loved to move things around,” chuckles Kevin. “We used to call her the ‘vodka decorator.’ On a Saturday night, she would say, ‘I think I want to move that.’ My back would be loosened up because of the vodka, so I would move things but feel it the next day.”
The large, dark-wood front door of the Ocean Oaks West home opens into a foyer that leads into the great room and dining room. Columns define the hallway and Chris further defined the space with wallpaper, which she loved to work with, on the dining room wall.
The 18-foot ceilings, the built-ins filled with books on either side of the gas fireplace, the trio of French doors letting sunlight filter through, and dark wood floors further delineate the conversation area in the great room.
A powder room adjacent to this area is conveniently placed for guest access. At the end of the west wing, Chris used textured wallpaper in the vestibule outside the primary suite to create an area for special mementos.
“She was a great friend of the author Toni Morrison, so she created this little corner with Toni’s books,” says Kevin of the collection of books on display.
The house is designed so that a couple can live on the first level where the primary suite is located; but it’s a wonderful family home, too, because you’ve got three guest bedrooms upstairs, all with en-suite baths, notes Ross.
The expansive primary suite opens onto the screened lanai overlooking the pool. With two walk-in closets, a water closet with a bidet, dual sinks, a shower and a jetted tub, there’s plenty of room for the two of you to get ready without bumping into one another.
The family room, kitchen, laundry room and two-car garage are located in the east wing, with easy access to the second-floor staircase for guests and to the screened lanai, so you can open the house up for indoor-outdoor entertaining.
The cook’s kitchen has new, high-end appliances, a built-in desk, an island with a prep sink, a pot filler over the cooktop and a breakfast bar.
Upstairs, the staircase splits, a nice feature for added privacy when guests occupy the second-floor bedrooms. Going one way, you come to the space over the garage, where the Maddens converted a large bonus room into two functional spaces – an office area and an overflow bedroom for the grandchildren.
Heading up the other side of the staircase, two of the three upstairs bedrooms share a southern-facing, open-air balcony with a rollout awning, ensuring you can use the space anytime.
The Maddens enclosed the pool area so they could keep the doors open year-round. The heated pool, hot tub and summer kitchen were crucial when entertaining, whether it was their grandchildren or longtime friends.
“With the southern exposure, you get the sun on the pool and still have covered areas for shade,” notes Ross.
The trickle of water adds to the already serene setting. Kevin shares that Chris felt so strongly that women need a place to be alone in their homes she authored a book called, “A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces.” To serve that end, she created meditation gardens outside each end of the pool enclosure, perfect for private contemplation. The backyard is lushly landscaped to ensure complete privacy, whether you’re in the pool or sitting in one of the small garden areas.
“This as a great family home,” says Ross, noting the proximity to Saint Edward’s School, Moorings Yacht and Country Club and nearby private beach access.
Ocean Oaks West is a small, gated community of only 20 homes on the river side of A1A with granted beach access through Ocean Oaks East. Just a mile south of the Moorings and close to Round Island Park, the neighborhood is close to shopping, dining, entertainment and outdoor activities in both Vero Beach and Fort Pierce, with Vero’s famous Village by the Sea just 10 minutes away by car.