Creating a peaceful retreat with a playful side for a large and loving family was the charge of architect Yehuda Inbar of Inbar Architecture, AIA. He had a two-acre heavily wooded waterfront property–nestled in a protected coastal hammock on Manasota Key–on which to place a house, with room for his clients, their five adult children, and thirteen grandchildren.
One of the highest priorities the couple insisted upon was minimal disturbance of the natural habitat and preservation of all the live oaks on the property. So enamored of the oaks were the owners that they asked Inbar to aim for the feeling of a tree house.
Inbar designed just that, creating a nine-bedroom, ten-bath home with 6,455 square feet under air that made the most of panoramic views over the property s private island and Lemon Bay. To ensure plenty of opportunities for recreation, the home includes a swimming pool and spa, a guest house with an outdoor shower, a putting green, and fishing docks. “For my design philosophy, I was focused on my clients’ health and wellness,” says Inbar. “I asked how they wanted the building to feel and what gave them a sense of wellness and joy. With an abundance of feedback, a family retreat center was born.”
The two-story concrete and glass building was created using form-and-pour architecturally exposed concrete. The exterior sheer walls give a sense of solidity. The building is free of ornamentation and favors rational detailing tempered with elements of lightness and grace,” explains Inbar.
The cantilevered concrete overhangs create balconies to expand the living space and provide protection from the sun and rain. All rooms are graced with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows to invite in natural light and the exterior habitat. The house is comprised of four components–it’s center acts as common living space for gatherings; north and south stairwells act as bridges to eight private suites; a plinth of outdoor space incorporates the pool, spa, and the outdoor kitchen, and dining areas; and a remote multi-purpose guest house features the pool bath and outdoor shower. “My design approach was seeking to do more with less, including using salvaged steel and recycled aluminum along with regional masonry units,” says Inbar. “I also connected the building to the native landscaping by way of cypress wood ceilings and white oak flooring. I also allowed lots of natural light in, but used automated lighting controls and shades to complement the natural shade produced by the live oaks I preserved.”
Such concern for the environment earned the home the designation of a “LEED Platinum Certified Building.” A photovoltaic three-battery system and cistern can run off the grid, and is designed to withstand any adverse weather condition. “The LEED Platinum certification on a home of this size and unique shape took extra attention to detail to ensure a high score,” says builder Brian Mayotte of BUILD, LLC. “We spent many hours figuring out how to work solar electrical, solar water heating, the cistern, and the battery backup into and around the existing hammock,” he says. “It was challenging, but we did it.
The home has a complete thermal enclosure system which includes comprehensive air sealing, quality-installed insulation, and high performance windows to deliver improved comfort and lower utility bills. The HERS (Home Energy Rating) of the home is now minus 16, which means the home’s entire energy bill is actually minus $3.00. “Such attention to detail has earned BUILD a solid reputation for sticking to our core values of honesty, excellence, quality, character, longevity, and community,” says Mayotte. “Our service value is equal to our technical value, which creates loyalty from our clients.”
Creating enduring relationships with her clients is also important to interior designer Rosemary Chase. “Personal relationships develop and that’s the fulfilling part of what I do,” says Chase, who also relies on a close professional relationship with architect Inbar. “I work almost exclusively with Yehuda, who is, by far, the most talented architect I know. He and I work smoothly and in tandem on our projects.”
Chase followed the architect’s lead with a holistic approach to design. She says, “Every project is a new adventure, bringing challenges and excitement and each is an opportunity to grow. I found this project particularly enriching.”
An expanse of glass frames a central staircase of steel with mahogany treads allows natural light and views of the surrounding habitat. Overhead hangs a chandelier of crystal fish and bubbles from Bee Ridge Lighting.
Light floods in through the great room’s floor-to-ceiling windows, and crisp-white cabinetry surround the stainless steel Mullet’s Appliances. A set of four modern barstools invite guests to the kitchen bar, as well as provide extra seating for this big family. A cozy sectional sits in front of a large and functional coffee table that hides ottomans beneath it.
From the hallway outfitted with a lime, peach, and persimmon patterned rug from Art To Walk On, you can spot the property’s charming gazebo. A custom farmhouse dining table surrounded by a matching bench and five Ghost Chairs mix traditional and modern in a refreshing manner.
Conceived as a child’s playroom, the expansive loft, decorated with finds from the owner’s antique hunts, also contains convenient built-in cabinets.
The simplicity of materials such as cypress, architecturally exposed concrete, Legno Bastone Wide Plank Oak Flooring, and clear glass in the multiplicity of windows allow the true star of the home-its beautiful natural surroundings-to shine through.
One of three reading nooks in the home provides an inviting space for quiet entertainment. The homeowner brought the updated channel back Barcelona-style chair and ottoman with them from a previous residence.
One of nine architecturally identical suites, this bedroom is differentiated from the others by the headboard wall, painted a custom lavender, and bathroom door (not pictured) in a chartreuse hue, both created by Colorist Donald Kaufman. The platform bed features pullout drawers for convenient storage. Open to the outdoors, it leads to a special 15-inch wide miniature bar for children to climb or dine on.
Rivaling a five-star hotel, the home’s pool and spa have water features that shoot beams of light along the water stream.
Pocketing Euro-Wall doors meld the indoor with the outdoors and lead to this delightful dining area.
Written by Kitt Walsh
Amber Fredericksen Photography
Ryan Gamma Photography
Inbar Architecture, AIA
2831 Ringling Boulevard, Suite E#117
Sarasota, FL 34237
Luxury Home Builder
950 1st Ave North, Suite 200
Naples, FL 34102
Art To Walk On
16 South Palm Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34236
Bee Ridge Lighting
3909 Bee Ridge Road
Sarasota, FL 34233
4233 Clark Road
Sarasota, FL 34233