by Maddy Zollo Rusbosin | May 6, 2024

Z Properties Duo Emily and Zane Williams Are Revolutionizing Design in Winter Park

Meet Zane and Emily Williams, the Winter Park couple reno-ing the entire concept of Florida living.

Emily and Zane Williams, the duo behind Z Properties, a full-service design-build firm. Photography by Nicholas Sargent.

While driving around Winter Park or the surrounding Central Florida neighborhoods, you might encounter a bright orange Z staked in front of a house or an empty lot with no other words accompanying it, just a phone number underneath. If you know Zane or Emily Williams, the team behind Z Properties, there couldn’t be a more appropriate sign for their company: their work, like the orange Z, is meant to catch your attention. 

“If you’re looking for someone who wants to do things a little bit differently and push the envelope—and maybe not give you exactly what you’re certain you want—we’re your people,” Emily explains of their slightly unorthodox approach to design. After all, how many people would imagine building and designing a home with no halls or extra space?

That’s exactly what they did on Winter Park’s Sylvan Drive in 2017, and it was thanks to that build that Z Properties evolved into one of the buzziest firms in the area. The over 3,500-square-foot house was anything but traditional: Its Mediterranean-meets-modern feel paired with an efficient floor plan (every space in it is a room) along with two detached guest houses and a sprawling courtyard stood out from other Winter Park homes.

With Emily specializing in interiors and Zane handling the construction and design, the team creates unique builds. Photography by Steve Allen.

“The symmetry of it is something that caught people’s attention,” says Emily. “Plus, the interiors were really fantastic and colorful, which was very different from what others were doing.” 

Both Zane and Emily hail from Winter Park, and they actually knew each other growing up. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that they reconnected, later married and then had their son. In 2012, while Zane was busy as an independent contractor and Emily was opening The Grove, a local women’s boutique, the couple renovated their condo along with another one in the same building. “We entered them both into the Parade of Homes (showcase). That was a very pivotal moment—it was the first thing we ever put out there,” says Emily.

We want everyone to feel good in every space of their home.
—Emily Willams

Without losing old architectural features like the original fireplace and curved ceilings, the space had a striking color palette and a reformatted layout which took full advantage of its lake views, making it one of the highlights of the showcase. Soon after, the Williamses officially launched Z Properties as a full-service design-build firm with Zane helming the construction and design aspect and Emily handling the interiors. “At the time, we were still doing smaller things, and we were still a little scrappy,” says Emily. Then, once the house on Sylvan Drive debuted five years later, along with a handful of other homes, their project list ramped up. “People really started to come to us saying, ‘I love what you guys are putting out there. I want to recreate this,’” she continues. 

Photography by Nicholas Sargent.

Don’t expect Z Properties to just cycle through similar floor plans or a Rolodex of tried-and-true light fixtures; every one of their builds is completely unique, whether it’s a renovation or new construction. 

“Our clients come to us saying, ‘I need this’ or ‘I need that.’ We like to sit people down and say, ‘I think those are things that you want, but let’s actually design a space that you’re going to use and is going to grow with you,’” Emily explains of the couple’s design ethos.

For example, they recently worked with a couple moving from Atlanta to Florida who told them they were bringing all their furniture with them and didn’t need interior design help. Emily presented a few ideas, and before long, Z Properties reimagined almost every room in the house from scratch. “It was just such a delight to see them be like, ‘Oh my God, we do have to start over.’ They didn’t have to, but they were so excited to realize that since they were building this house in Florida, it should feel different,” says Emily.

Photography by Steve Allen.

“We want everyone to feel good in every space of their home,” she continues. “That’s what makes our approach special versus doing the same thing over and over again.” Focusing on unexpected moments, like disguising doorways as beautifully molded wall panels to tiling a bathroom counter bright pink, is what the Williams’s ethos is all about. They also lean into their Florida surroundings by embracing natural light, utilizing outdoor space and greenery in innovative ways and with playful interiors, whether it’s blue kitchen cabinets, pink tile counters or punchy floral wallpaper. 

“It’s always interesting to me that a lot of people will come in and say, ‘No, No, No, I don’t like color,’” Emily says. “But then I’ll say, ‘But look at what you have on, you’re not dressed in beige and gray.’ I always think of a home as an extension of yourself because people tend to wear things that make them feel good.”

And at the end of the day, that’s the Williams’s goal for Z Properties: to create a space where you’ll walk into each room, love it and, of course, feel good.