Outdoor area connects indoor living spaces

Phil Kean Designs was faced with an interesting challenge when designing the outdoor living space for this Winter Park, Fla. home. The space needed to connect the main house and the guest house while still creating a welcoming atmosphere.

The homeowners wanted an outdoor living area that was designed for entertaining. With that in mind, the pavilion space was designed with a kitchen, fire pit, TV, ceiling fans and a music system. “Of course the existing house had a pool and a patio. So it has a little garden that wraps around it; it’s really charming,” says Phil Kean of Phil Kean Designs.

“We wanted to have the inside and outside sort of blend, so we used the same materials on the outside as we did on the inside,” Kean explains. The main house was originally built as a spec home in 2007. The homeowners who bought the house wanted a guest house and cabana which were built at the same time last year.

“You have glass doors that pocket into walls so when they’re open you don’t see them. We have motorized screens that come down so that space is encapsulated with screens for when it’s either buggy or whatever reason you might want the screens down, or on a nice day you could just keep the screens up and just let the air flow through.”

Entertaining design

Kean worked closely with the homeowners, who live in New York for the majority of the year, to design a space perfect for entertaining. The homeowners travel a great deal and incorporated a lot of pieces they discovered during their travels into the design. The home was built as a long-term retirement home.

Since the homeowners are from out of state, they would come down to Florida for a few days at a time to go over various issues and selections. “She would bring things in that she had found so we could incorporate those. They found this gorgeous antique pool table that we had to make sure we had a lot of room for. Those are the kind of things, but they look gorgeous.

Kean says the homeowners had great taste and were very receptive to any ideas that came up throughout the design process.

 “She primarily did all the interior decorating. Her selections were just impeccable, from the light fixtures to the stone, to the granite. It made it a lot easier for me. When you have a homeowner who has great taste and has a vision of what they want, it makes it easy to both design it and build it for them, — to make their dreams a reality. She had a great vision, so that was really exciting. “

Kean says when you walk around the grounds the space looks like a resort, as if you had gone to a spa. “It has a great feel,” he says.

The kitchen includes a pizza oven, which has come in handy for impromptu gatherings. “The homeowners throw unplanned pizza parties. So they’ll say ‘we’ve got some dough so stop on by!’ So people come by and have a pizza and just hang out and have some fun,” Kean says.

The homeowner also found some unique ceramic tiles at an antique store that needed to be incorporated into the design of the cabana, Kean explains. The use of stone and the fire pit are other features that Kean says make the space unique.

Design Challenges

The outdoor living space was designed alongside the guest house, which posed some of the few challenges of the project. In addition, both the guest house and the cabana needed to seamlessly match the main house that was built three years prior.

“I guess the big challenge was how do you take another house and make it feel like it’s part of a main house without connecting them? That was probably the architectural challenge,” Kean says. “When you’re sharing the garden of another house you have to make sure you orient all the parts to that garden. So there’s a big wraparound porch on the second floor that faces the existing house and the outside covered area on the first floor faces the existing house. We lined up the columns so they were like the same columns, at least the rhythms of the houses were the same..”

While connecting the two houses was a challenge, it was also what Kean is most proud of. “I like the flow between the inside and outside as far as an inside outside connection. I think the architecture is beautiful it feels like it is appropriate. The landscaping really brought the two houses together,” he says.

For the outdoor living space itself, size limits presented a bit of a challenge. The community has size restrictions, so the pavilion could only be 900 sq. ft.  before being classified differently. “When you change what it was called, your setbacks just became different. I think the maximum we could make it was 900 sq. ft., which is a big room, but when you have a living room and a kitchen and a patio and a trellis and all that stuff, it starts to chew up all that space pretty quickly,” Kean explains.

Despite some challenges, the design was a resounding success and received the main award for the local Parade of Homes.

“The level of finish was gorgeous. There were materials that were used that were very exotic and beautiful,” Kean says. “She loved it. They both love it. They love showing it off. They love it so much they wanted to do a fundraiser there. It really turned out beautiful.”