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Home Tour : Restyled Ranch

Bringing a 1971 Florida home into the 21st century is an endeavor calling for fresh ideas and a talented design team. When one Park Shore home was renovated, its traditional ranch-style architecture was reinterpreted.

Dan and Mary D’Alessandro, a Canadian couple with young children, bought their residence with the understanding that major changes would be required. The ho-hum exterior had little in the way of detail. The interior featured dated design and small rooms. They wanted to go about a renovation the right way, but knew that the architectural modifications would be many because the room design was awkward. Something seemed wrong about walking through the front door into a tiny kitchen, for instance, and low ceilings gave the entire home a boxy, claustrophobic feel.

Fortunately, the early-Rutenberg home was well built and came with a great deal of potential. The most dramatic challenge of the renovation, vaulting the living room ceiling and leaving the heavy wooden trusses and connecting metal plates exposed, was Mary D’Alessandro’s idea. “She was very hands-on, and involved in every aspect of this project,” explains Matthew Kragh, AIA, owner, MHK Architecture & Planning. “She’d seen a magazine picture of this technique years earlier and had always wanted to try it. The exposed truss work was an incredible design element that transformed the interior,” adds Kragh.

When a ceiling is vaulted and trusses become part of the design, mechanical systems and ductwork are rerouted. The slim cavity created between the existing roof and the new tongue-and-groove ceiling was filled with Icynene, an expanding foam insulation. To create the open living area, space was taken from a covered outdoor room by the pool. Clerestory windows in between the trusses add more natural light to the liberated setting. To be an integral part of a great room, the kitchen had to be relocated. The new culinary command center features a large island for food preparation and informal dining.

Rooms were reconfigured throughout the home. The only addition to the existing home was a new master bedroom suite. The former master bedroom wing was turned into two children’s bedrooms sharing the former master bath.

Beefing up the exterior with a gabled entryway flanked by fieldstone created curb appeal. “We met the owner back when she was considering buying the property, so we worked with her throughout the design process, putting together a budget and completing all of the construction,” describes Mike Assaad, Owner, Waterside Builders. “There were a lot of moving parts to this project, but there is no question that the result is gorgeous. We are very proud of it.”

A Realtor who specializes in design, Linda Sonders found this house, then helped D’Alessandro create the interior. The look is Florida chic with white walls, white oak floors in living areas and the master bedroom, vibrant colors and natural fibers for carpets and fabrics. The kitchen backsplash is a raised, rectangular mosaic glass tile. “The process was wonderfully collaborative with my client,” explains Sonders. “Mary knew she wanted a coastal contemporary interior with pops of color. She also knew that she wanted it to be a comfortable and welcoming home for her children and guests. We shared ideas via email for months and are thrilled with the fun, fresh result.”

The home had one guest bedroom. As part of the extensive makeover, an office became flexible space with a sofa containing a pull-out queen-sized bed for a second guest bedroom. “Now we’ve got five bedrooms, which is great because this allows us to welcome both family and friends,” says D’Alessandro.

A formal dining room close to the front entrance establishes the new home’s aesthetic with durable molded Eames chairs, a chandelier embellished with delicate capiz shells, and a vibrant painting by Toronto artist Sharon Barr. “I was walking down a cold Toronto street one day, and that painting was in the window,” remembers D’Alessandro. “It has all the colors of the rainbow and was not suited at all to Toronto tastes, and so the store owners were almost surprised by my interest in it. I knew that it belonged in Naples. That painting made everything come together, really,” adds D’Alessandro.

The finished home includes a covered outdoor kitchen with a grilling station and sturdy all-weather wicker furniture for year-round al fresco dining. The inviting pool pavilion can be seen from most rooms in the home. Adding to the Florida experience, the previous owners had green thumbs, and the home is surrounded by mature tropical fruit trees.

The entire project was technically complicated. Because of strict guidelines established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), not more than 25% of the existing roof structure could be removed, and the cost of the project could not cost more than 50% of the appraised value of the home. “About 25% of the projects that come into our office have FEMA issues,” says Kragh. “In my opinion, this is a model example of a successful FEMA renovation.”

This is a happy ending. “Matthew Kragh, Mike Assaad, and Linda Sonders are a dream team,” says D’Alessandro. “We love the home. That is for sure.”

Written by Mary Lou Smart

Photography by Michael McVay

Waterside Builders

790 Harbour Drive

Naples, Florida 34103


MHK Architecture & Planning

975 6th Avenue South

Naples, Florida 34102


Linda Sonders Design

4081 Tamiami Trail North C-104,

Naples, Florida 34103



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