Osprey, FL — Secondary residences can give homeowners an opportunity to take risks they might not take with their primary residence. Such was the case for a Minnesota family who built a home complex – a main residence with two guest homes – in Osprey, FL. Shawn Gaither, principal, AIA, LEED AP, Studio Hive, Inc., in Minneapolis, MN, worked with team members Anne Olson, interior designer, and Amber Liestman, interior designer, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, to create the retreat. TOTeMs Architecture, Inc. and Michael K. Walker & Associates served as the architect and general contractor, respectively.
The clients refer to themselves as a horizontal family, notes Gaither, stressing the importance that relaxation and respite played in the design to ensure a resort atmosphere for family members and guests while preserving the natural beauty and delicate ecosystems of the site.
“A main goal of my client was to ‘respect the people and the land and the rest will follow,’” says Gaither.
The result is a group of homes that showcases seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces. Material selection maintains balance while paying heed to the lifestyle of a multi-generational family focused on evolving needs and on creating a legacy that will stay in the family for years.
Part of a whole
In the main home, an open floor plan and strategic views allow spaces to flow from room to room and out to the outdoor seating areas.
“Ground zero of the home is standing between the kitchen and dining room,” he says. “When the walls are opened up to the outside, it’s a magical sensation. You can see through the home outside to the Gulf of Mexico to one side and to a lush, native arbor of trees on the other.”
Overall, rooms were designed to be part of the whole, where no one space possesses a contrived sense of importance. “As you move through them, there are no thresholds, no doors that separate one area from another,” he says. “There are subtle details that identify each space. We were challenged to create a home where each room has its own identity, yet is part of the whole conversation.”
To that end, consistent flooring (IPE plank flooring), woods (grey elm veneer) and millwork (completed by Village Woodworking) combine with neutral paint colors to tie the spaces together, while lighting changes the mood from one space to the next and focal point details create identities.
For example, in the kitchen streamlined storage is highlighted by an Ann Sacks Yellow Slate backsplash. A Julien undermount sink is accented with a Dornbracht Elio Collection faucet. Sleek Costa Esmerelda marble serves as the island’s top as well as its vertical support. “As you stand in front of it, it has a blue-green quality that speaks to the pool just beyond the window as well as to the Gulf,” he says.
Storage concerns were addressed with an airliner mentality, keeping in mind that every square inch must be used to ultimate efficiency. “Everything has its place,” he notes. “We had to get creative to ensure there wasn't any unused real estate.”
This was especially critical in the Bay House guest home, where an under-counter refrigerator, dishwasher drawer, microwave, small appliances and electronics are all hidden behind doors and within the millwork.
This approach also speaks to the client’s request that the kitchens not look like kitchens. “We talked about the ‘ode to kitchen’ [syndrome] where these spaces can be over-embellished and become overpowering,” he says. “When we thought about places like the kitchens, and even the bathrooms, the intent was never for them to scream their existence. They’re supposed to be spaces in concert with the rest of the house.”
And they are supposed to be spaces that can be touched. “They were always meant to be tactile,” he continues. “We talked a lot about texture, which is all over the site when you consider the oak bark and the grasses. It was important to connect to those references when we selected products for the home. We always asked if a particular item honored the people and the land. When it did, it made it into the project.”
The main home also features two master bathrooms – his and her spaces – that continue the focus on making a connection to nature while addressing current and future needs of the family.
Her version tends toward green hues, while his highlights blue tones reminiscent of the nearby water. Natural Japanese veneer teak cabinets grace both bathrooms, as does colonial Caesar Feel tile on the floor.
In his bathroom, decorative Mandala slate blue Sinu wall tiles are highlighted by custom Mixed-up Mosaics mini sticks. A Zodiaq Crema Marfil countertop from DuPont is accented by a Kohler Ladena undermount sink with a Kohler Purist faucet. A Kohler Purist Rite-Temp was added in the shower.
A subtle nod toward aging is also evident in the master bathrooms, since the homeowners plan to enjoy the home for many years. While there are no grab bars, low thresholds provide easy access to the showers and built-in seats provide a place to sit if needed. “It was important to consider the need for my clients to age gracefully in the home,” he says, adding that they also addressed width of spaces and the ability to easily move throughout the home.