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Polo enthusiast Lavinia Johnston of Chattanooga, Tennessee, bought her seasonal home on Palm Beach’s Ibis Isle in 2014 mainly because of its convenient location, she says.
The nearby bridge gets her on a route that leads directly into the equestrian community of Wellington, she says. And Ibis Isle, the South End residential island near the Par 3 Golf Course, has plenty of charms of its own.
She loves the proximity to Wellington, and “I also love the privacy of the little island, and its convenience to Palm Beach for shopping and restaurants, and it is wonderful to walk across the street and be at the beach,” Johnston says.
Yet, as they say, life happens, and other interests lately have been competing for her attention. Her son has a new baby in Colorado, another son spends most of the year in Wyoming and a daughter in Arizona is expecting a baby.
The grandchildren, she explains with a smile, have trumped the horses. As such, she is giving up her home in Palm Beach and building a home in Lafayette, Colorado, to be closer to family.
That means her three-bedroom, three-bath house — with 3,838 square feet of living space, inside and out — is for sale, offered through agent Deanna Fugere of Engel & Volkers-Wellington for $4.1 million. At 2258 Ibis Isle Road E., the house stands on a quarter-acre lot.
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The previous owner was former Palm Beach Mayor Jack McDonald, who built the Anglo-Caribbean-style home. It was designed in 1999 by architect Raphael Saladrigas of SR Architecture & Design.
“It’s a courtyard home, centered on the beautiful pool area, with most of the rooms opening up to it. We got the idea from old Roman palazzos,” McDonald previously told thePalm Beach Daily News.
And those details appealed to Johnston: “The minute I walked in I fell in love with the house. It reminded me of an Italian villa.”
She adds: “It was comfortable and private.”
Creating the home’s courtyard effect, a tall wall separates a driveway area paved in old brick at the front of the house from the pool area. Once inside the heavy wood doors, one passes through an enclosed breezeway with sliding-glass doors offering a view of the pool, fountain and patio.
The breezeway leads straight to the double glass front doors, which open to the foyer. To the south, windows offer views of the pool. To the north, pocket doors open to the library. With its separate bathroom, the library also could be used as a guest suite.
The foyer opens into a great room with a central area equipped with a fireplace, the living room to the south and the dining room to the north. All three areas have chair-rail molding and are crowned by tray ceilings defined by crown molding.
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An overall feature is the white marble flooring, with accents of verde marble in the foyer. The same green stone also is found on the fireplace’s surround and hearth. Built-in and finely detailed walnut cabinets flank the fireplace.
The living room is filled with natural light during the day, thanks to the casement windows on the west and a bank of glass doors with fanlights above them. The doors open to the pool area on the east side of the house.
The master suite is positioned off the living room in the home’s southeast corner, while the guest suite occupies the northeast corner.
The master suite overlooks the courtyard and has double closets and a marble-appointed bathroom with double sinks, a whirlpool tub and a walk-in shower.
Beyond the dining room are the kitchen, which has a center work island and breakfast area, along with the laundry facilities and access to the two-car garage.
The kitchen features high-gloss white cabinetry and granite countertops. Doors in the breakfast area open to a side garden.
The house was in great condition when she bought it, Johnston says, and for the most part has only needed cosmetic updates, including a wall of marble tile in the kitchen. She also put in new carpeting in the bedrooms and installed ceilings fans, shades and plantation shutters.
She fenced the rear of the property and made a change to the swimming pool: It now holds salt water instead of fresh. She also has replaced the air conditioners and hot water heaters.
“I’ll miss this house,” she says. “I love it and it was a hard decision to sell, but it makes sense (to do so) for traveling. My Colorado house will be my raise-the-grandchildren house.”
And if she misses Palm Beach’s warm weather, she adds, “I can get out of the cold in Arizona.”
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