Stewart Bennett, owner of Ampersand Construction, describes it best: “This house was designed to exhibit artwork, but it is a piece of art in and of itself.” The Bird Key beauty was built for form and function, using unconventional materials requiring minimum maintenance and unusual methods demanding exact execution.
From a design standpoint, the stone and glass monolith is considered modern architecture, a specialty of DSDG Architects. However, it is a custom design, asserts architect Mark Sultana, “Every house we do is one of a kind. Others may have similar finishes, but we’ll never do exactly the same thing twice.” Because his clients did not want the cold and stark look often associated with modern architecture, Sultana dressed up the home with features like coral stone and Dizal wood-look aluminum siding, dubbing the result “warm modern.”
From a building standpoint, Bennett explains the challenge presented by modern architecture. “Modern is a beast within itself. There is less interior detail, but it is that much harder to build because everything must line up perfectly – you can’t hide anything with trim!”
Bennett illustrates the challenge that the building process posed, offering the trimless doors as an example, “The finished floors have to be installed first, even before the drywall. Then comes the framing, then the baseboard, and finally the drywall. The baseboard is inset, it’s actually flush with the wall. On top of that, this design called for an abundance of floor-to-ceiling glass. The math had to be spot on, the installation perfect. I’m not going to lie, it gave me some gray hairs!” he chuckles.
The need for clean lines, minimal maintenance, and durable finishes is understandable — the home was designed for a large family. “They had been looking for something to accommodate their family, but there was nothing ready-built available where they wanted to live, which was on the water,” explains Sultana.
They finally found a canal-front corner lot on which they could build a big enough house, once they tore down the original 2,215-square-foot ranch house built in 1968. In its place, Sultana designed a 7,300-square-foot home on the .42-acre pie-shaped lot. Almost every room has a water view. With all of the bedrooms on the second floor, the owners left the ground floor windows uncovered.
Intimately involved in choosing their own furnishings, DSDG Architects’ interior designer April Balliette provided the owners with selection assistance on the finishes, cabinets, light fixtures, and tile, “Things you can’t walk out of the house with!” concludes Balliette.
*Feature cover image: This house was designed to exhibit artwork, but it is a piece of art in and of itself. The Bird Key beauty was built for form and function, using unconventional materials requiring minimum maintenance and unusual methods demanding exact execution.For the entry, the owners wanted to replicate a textured stone wall they spied on a Caribbean vacation. Crafted in two different thicknesses of Israeli limestone that creates a stepping pattern, the wall reinforces the linear accents of the front elevation. Bennett coated the glass garage doors with 3M film to provide privacy. The five-foot wide front door pivots in both directions. “Another case of zero tolerance,” says Bennett, the door was installed after the finish flooring.Described by Sultana as, “both a conduit of vertical transportation and a decorative sculpture,” the stairway boasts a steel stringer subframe and solid wooden treads stained to match the porcelain tile flooring. The stairwell is one of several areas of the home specifically designed to display the homeowners’ collection of artwork.The Miele-equipped kitchen accommodates a large family with multiple ovens, warming drawers, and an oversized gas range. There are two refrigerator drawers in the oversized island, and a separate butler’s kitchen houses additional commercial-grade refrigeration. The high gloss lacquered cabinets feature the sleek design of “c” channels, eliminating the need for hardware. The upper cabinets are motorized for easy access. The island top and cooking alcove are crafted from Atlas Concorde porcelain. Easier to care for than porous granite or marble, the non-porous engineered product is also stronger than its natural counterparts.The open floor plan is unified by Atlas Concorde porcelain tile flooring from the Etic collection in Rovere Grigio from Design Works. The unique backrest mechanism on the Gamma Sunset modern leather sectional allows the seating backs to move backward, creating flat surfaces that can function as extra sleeping areas. The media cabinet by Wicked Smart Homes was crafted specifically to fit the owners’ extensive stereo system. The programmable sliding glass doors can be opened to specific widths, set to automatically close and lock, and boast other functions controlled on-site or through a phone app. Bennett notes that the ceilings and door frames are all on the same plane, another example of a feature that requires “perfect installation.”
The rooftop deck is accessed by a stairway with concrete treads crafted by BeNNettles Concrete Design. “We had to crane the steel stringers over the house. That was nerve-wracking!” exclaims Bennett. Rising through the first floor to the roof above, the raw concrete structural columns were poured on site in special-order forms. After sanding them by hand, they were wrapped to protect them during the building process. “They looked like ancient Egyptian artifacts!” laughs Bennett.
Sultana notes the pie-shaped lot dictated the pool shape. The pool’s steps act like stadium seating and, like the pool deck, remain cool to the touch all day, according to Bennett. Denser than regular concrete and incredibly durable, the shell terrazzo-topped white concrete was custom-mixed on site and honed to expose the ancient shell used as aggregate. Rainwater runs off the energy efficient Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofing into internal drains which feed into the landscaping.
Written by Ginny Peterson
Photography by Ryan Gamma
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