Their great outdoors: four landscape projects that exemplify the best of Florida living.
The project: A West of the Trail modern home designed by Guy Peterson. The new owners winter here and summer in Napa Valley; they're art lovers and wine connoisseurs who'd been wanting to move to Sarasota for a while.
The concept: "The homeowners wanted more exterior space, so they approached Guy Peterson to design a new detached pool pavilion," says Young. "We added Montgomery palms, wart ferns, beautiful hel-iconia and an American oil palm."
On reflection: The existing front wall was rebuilt, and Young added a small reflecting pool with ceramic sculptures from a company called Architectural Pottery. ("Its heyday was the 1960s and '70s, and they did modernist work in California," he says.) The dining room window overlooks it.
The missing link: No driveway. Young took a minimalistic approach to designing a driveway that follows the grid of the house. He groomed the hardscape with grass and planted Montgomery palms along the new front wall to further draw the eye to the home's entrance.
About those hardscapes: "Hardscapes define how one is going to circulate around the house, so laying it out in a logical sequence is something we study first," says Young. "That's what this house and a lot of Sarasota School of Architecture homes were missing--often the front door is obscured by walls and courtyards. We used hardscape to provide clear delineation of where you're supposed to go."
Clinton Lak, landscape designer. ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design.
The project: A new Gulf-front Casey Key compound comprised of a 3,400-square-foot main house, adjoining guest house and garage. "The primary goal was to capitalize on the water views," says Lak, who got involved in the project before building began.
The challenge: To create a landscape that's beautiful, low maintenance, and sustainable enough to withstand the salt spray and storms of the Gulf of Mexico. The property contained 114 existing trees, primarily cabbage palms, and the county required ArtisTree to keep all of them. Lak removed a few for the Philippine shell-stone patio they created between the front wall and house, but replaced them elsewhere with other trees.
The beach: Because the home extends past the Gulf setback line, the county mandated what Lak describes as "a slim list" of native plants to be placed on the western side of the residence. Existing sea oats were supplemented with dune sunflower, muhly grass and more sea oats, plus necklace pod--"a dwarf native dune tree that thrives along the coast and produces nice pendulating yellow flowers," Lak says.
Space for entertaining: The homeowners love to entertain, so Lak designed a large courtyard with space for 20-plus people, and a massive deck that wraps around the back of the home. In the front, adjacent to a new water wall that buffers noise from the road, he planted foxtail palms. Because the homeowners were seeking LEED certification (and eventually received it), there's no turf on the entire lot.
Most proud of: "The way the home is married to the natural site to capitalize on those views," says Lak. "The house and landscape blend as one:'
Mark van den Broek. founder and owner of SmartHouse Integration.
The project: A dramatic outdoor backyard theater for a young family in Oyster Bay. "It's a big sports family with a lot of kids who like to hang out at home and watch football and hockey," says van den Broek. "Now they can splash around in the pool while they're watching TV."
The components: The 102-inch StarGlas rear-projection screen is housed in an air-conditioned custom shed. On either side are stadium speakers with sub-woofers built in underneath. "It rocks," says van den Broek, who adds, "We had to do a lot with very limited space. We redid the deck and added a cantilevered pool house, where there's another TV so you can watch something different."
The challenge: "Inside, you can control light and all aspects of the theater experience; outdoors is very different," says van den Broek. He installed a 2,000-watt surround sound system. "And while the projector is very bright [at 7,000 lumens], we made a custom retractable bimini top out of ipe wood that acts as a sun shield in bright sunlight."
The reward: Not only did it make the cover of the summer issue of Home Theater magazine, it won Electronic House magazine's Bronze Award for Home of the Year. And the Consumer Electronics Association gave SmartHouse Integration its Platinum Mark of Excellence Award for Innovation. "It represents the best of the best in the electronics industry," says van den Broek. "Were extremely proud."
Michael Gilkey, licensed landscape architect and president of Michael A. Gilkey, Inc.
The project: An older ranch-style residence set between the road and bay on a Casey Key Gulf-to-bay property. "This is the winter home of a single retired woman who has a lot of cool art inside," says Gilkey. "She'd done a lot of renovation inside, and now she wanted to bring the 'cool' outside, too."
The concept: "The arrival is very important to us, so we recreated a dune system in the front yard with clean beach sand and sea oats to make it feel like you're walking through the beach to enter the house," says Gilkey. To further the beach resort feel, he added 20 cabbage palms to the nearly 50 already on-site.
Foliage choices: The key is working with what's already there, says Gilkey. In this case, he kept the vivid poolside royal poinciana and mature screw pines, and--in a nod to the caustic Gulf of Mexico environment--added beach-friendly plants like dune sunflower, silver buttonwood, Indian hawthorn, carissa, crown of thorns, kalanchoe, and bromeliads in front and back "to add a sculptural quality."
The focal point: Gilkey designed an art-glass sculpture to replace the maintenance-heavy fountain in the front yard. (It was fabricated by his sister-in-law, Sarah Hines of Somewhere Glassworks.) "It's my interpretation of Gulf sunsets, with waves rolling across the sand picking up the sunset tones," he says. "We used art glass to echo the reflective quality of water." The sculpture is lit at night with fiber optics.
The reaction: "You're only finished with a project if your client loves it," says Gilkey. "The homeowner told me--what do the kids say these days?--'it's off the chain.'"