Outdoor area connects indoor living spaces

P hil Kean Designs was faced with an interesting challenge when designing the outdoor

living space for a Winter Park, Fla., home. The space needed to connect the main house, which was built as a spec home in 2007, and guesthouse, which was built last year, while creating a welcoming atmosphere.

The homeowners also 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. “The existing house had a pool and a patio and a little garden that wraps around it,” says Phil Kean, Phil Kean Designs, Winter Park. “We wanted to have the inside and outside blend, so we used the same materials on the outside as we did on the inside.”

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 wanted the design to incorporate art pieces they discovered during their travels.

“They found this gorgeous antique pool table that we made a lot of room for. Those are the kinds 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. When you have a homeowner who has great taste and has a vision, it makes it easy to design it and build it for them—to make their dreams a reality.”

Kean says when you walk around the grounds, the space looks like a resort, as if you had gone to a spa.

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

Design Challenges

The outdoor living space was designed alongside the guesthouse, which posed a few challenges during the project. The guesthouse and cabana, which also had been built last year, needed to seamlessly match the main house.

“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?” Kean asks. “When you’re sharing the garden of another house, you have to make sure you orient all the parts to that garden. 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 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 also is 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.”

In addition, Kean connected the new pavilion space through smart use of doors and screens. “There are glass doors that pocket into walls so when they’re open you don’t see them,” he notes. “We have motorized screens that come down so that space is encapsulated with screens for when it’s buggy. Or on a nice day, the homeowners could keep the screens up and just let the air flow through.”

Size limits presented another challenge. The community has size restrictions, so the pavilion only could be 900 square feet before being classified differently. Kean explains: “When you change what it was called, your setbacks become different. When you have a living room, a kitchen, a patio and a trellis, it starts to chew up all that space pretty quickly.”

Despite some challenges, the design was a resounding success and received an award from the local Parade of Homes. “The level of finish was gorgeous,” Kean notes. “There were materials that were used that were very exotic and beautiful. The homeowners love it and love showing it off. It really turned out beautifully.”