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3206 Casey Key Road

C Casa Amalfi

C 3206 Casey Key Road Enter the grounds of "Casa Amalfi" newly remodeled and renovated in 2008 and you will find perfection for both casual living and elegant entertaining. Dine al fresco on the stone patio overlooking the pool, terraced gardens and Blackburn Bay beyond. Sip aperitifs from the elegant terrace off the master suite or pursue your intellectual/artistic interests in the detached writer's/artist's studio. Pamper your guests in the large ensuite guest rooms; or simply indulge yourself in the master wing with a sitting or exercise room, bedroom, kitchen, and his/hers baths. Bask in the Old World beauty of hand-carved woodwork in the library and in the fabulous chef's kitchen, beamed ceilings reminiscent of Mizner architecture with intricate stenciling, and much more. Enjoy boating from the dock with two lifts and deeded access to Casey Key's eight mile walking beach.

CASA AMALFI Emerging From The Jungle

It's not quite the Amalfi Coast – no thousand foot precipice dropping to the rocky shores of the Mediterranean, no tourist buses veering along breath-takingly cliffs, no five mile line of traffic – but as you drive meandering Casey Key Road with the beach an arm's length from your car, you'll feel the drama and romance of the sea pulling you toward a simpler life that celebrates the sand between your toes, the sun's warmth in January, and sea turtles nesting as the moon rises. After crossing the historic Blackburn Point swing bridge, travel the beach road to the first Amalfi-like curve and enter the gated estate at 3206 Casey Key – a southern Italian villa that takes you back in time and spirit to another era; to the Old World charm of stone and wood, light and shadow, terraces and gardens.

But it wasn't always like this.

It was pink on the outside and pink on the inside. There were no plastic flamingos in the yard but even if there'd been an entire flock you couldn't have seen them from the road; actually, you couldn't see much of the house either for the mountainous vegetation. On either side of the house were obsolete threethousand gallon cisterns to collect rainwater for an irrigation system that hadn't worked in a decade. From the rear of the house you could sense that Little Sarasota Bay lapped somewhere out there but there were no water views, not even tunnel vision. Somewhere between the long-neglected front yard and the Amazon jungle of a back yard was a 7,000 square foot house – a very good structure built on floor trusses rather than slab on grade.

The original design of the 1987 house was two, two-story wings connected by a central one story living/dining room. The roof above the center room was a 26 x 40 foot open terrace. Sometime during the late 1990s a roof was erected over the roofed terrace, joining the two wings and creating an enormous open room with a sloped tile floor that rose and fell with the pitch and irregularities of the roof beneath.

To say that 3206 Casey Key Road was a diamond in the rough overstates its condition. With eight bedrooms, 8 1/2 bathrooms, and four wood burning fireplaces, the interior seemed like a cavernous maze of disjointed rooms. There was no family room and not a single area that could have seated all the people who might have occupied the eight bedrooms. There was only one offer during the time when the property was on and off the market and he backed out of the deal. In spite of its daunting problems the property had much to recommend it: ten foot ceilings on the first floor, an enormous diving pool with spacious sun decks, a beautiful outdoor dining terrace that could be opened to expansive bay views, a covered dock with lift, a potting shed that we converted into an adorable artist's studio or children's playhouse, 4 foot high crawl space allowing excellent access to electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems, plenty of windows and doors to bring the outdoors inside, and at 7,000 SF, spacious rooms. The design challenge was to transform a large-family, mid-western functioning house into a stylish island villa in which the interplay of light and shadow, space and movement, and lines of sight interacted to produce fluid motion between nature and people.

The front entrance passed through a narrow vestibule and forced the eye to an exterior spiral staircase. Taking a right turn out of the vestibule dumped you into a large open room (same size as the terrace above) that served as a living room at one end and dining room at the other but nothing to delineate the space. There was nowhere for the eye to travel, no directions as to where you should move next. Residential architecture should not be confusing. One test of a good floor plan is to ask first-time guests to take a self-guided tour. If they move confidently from room to room, and if they are delightfully surprised by each area they enter, then you've passed the fundamentals of a workable layout. A second test of good design is to watch where your first-time guests look. Clearly defined lines of sight (and site) produce emotional security and define the spatial axes that guide your visitor. The original plan at 3206 produced uncertainty and inertia. As visitors emerged from the entrance vestibule they stood still: they did not know where to look or where to go.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

So the first step in changing the visual dynamic was to give the entrance purpose and clarity. We moved the 3'-6'8� front door to the center of the living room and enlarged it to 6'-8' double doors (photo 1 ). Entering inside, a vestibule flanked by stone columns (photo 2) and two steps descending into the great room forces you to stop and consider the lines of sight. You immediately look through the room to the bayside terraces and water beyond. But you quickly look up at the wooden beamed ceiling, then right at the 18' tall stone fireplace (photo 3), then left into the paneled library (photo 4) and the Juliet balcony above. The two axes – east/west and north/south – intersect in the middle of the living room and you instinctively know where you belong.

The east/west entrance axis was created by removing two-thirds of the old roofed terrace to provide a 22' cathedral ceiling that seems higher because of the dropped beams and pitched ceiling; the north/south axis was established by the towering fireplace and Juliet balcony. The perpendicular axes are augmented by lines of sight that run at 45 degree angles toward the master staircase on the north side and the family room/kitchen on the south side that begs the question “what lies beyond?� Curiosity compels the visitor to explore the surprises ahead. The before and after photos tell the story of Cinderella at the ball.

Front entrance: There was no harmony between the original wings or any sense of an entrance. By roofing the open beams above the front door, we created a “sunset� balcony above and encased the concrete columns with genuine stone that established an important entrance, anticipating the grand stone interior. Rear view: Although the rear terrace felt intimate, it was disharmonious and unwelcoming. We established symmetry in the center section by changing the windows and doors, encasing the concrete columns with stone, and defining the symmetry with curved stairs leading to the pool.

Old kitchen and new kitchen/family room: The old kitchen was sandwiched between the formal dining room and a bedroom/bath causing several problems. The kitchen was an eyesore from the dining room; guests had to pass through the kitchen to enter their bedroom; and there were no views from the one kitchen window, which is unacceptable for today's gourmet kitchen. By eliminating the bedroom/bath and moving the kitchen toward the bay, we opened up ample space for a magnificent kitchen and family room.

remodeled bath

living room/dining room/library

kitchen detail

dining room to family room

Come visit us for a tour of this exceptional renovation. Deborah Beacham Michael Saunders & Company 941-376-2688

C Casa Amalfi 3206 Casey Key Road

Casa Amalfi  

Enter the grounds of "Casa Amalfi" newly remodeled and renovated in 2008 and you will find perfection for both casual living and elegant ent...

Casa Amalfi  

Enter the grounds of "Casa Amalfi" newly remodeled and renovated in 2008 and you will find perfection for both casual living and elegant ent...