For Sarasota, Florida, couple Karin and Domingo Galliano, a tiny screech owl taking up temporary residence in their Siesta Key home during the final stages of construction seemed an almost mystical occurrence. “The house was already built and enclosed,” says Karin. “The owl had to make its way through various passageways to arrive at its destination.” The well-traveled pair read the bird’s unlikely presence as a sign that their new house was exactly where they were meant to land.
The couple fell in love with the community while visiting friends and decided to put down roots in the area. Desiring an airy, ultra-modern home scaled for flexible use, they turned to married architects Jody Beck and Ross-Alan Tisdale to translate their dreams into reality. Charged with creating flowing, adaptable spaces that could accommodate just the clients or easily expand to host their children and grandchildren, Beck and Tisdale decided to divide the home into two zones: the couple’s main quarters and a private guest wing. Separated from the main living area by a tall breezeway, the guest spaces can be accessed independently at entry level or from an open-air catwalk on the second floor. “The zones are under one roof, but they function quite separately,” Tisdale says. The L-shaped home embraces a courtyard, a configuration designed to create a pseudo-waterfront view by focusing attention inward toward the pool. “The bedrooms have private balconies overlooking a shared outdoor space, like a Spanish-style hacienda,” Beck says.
“Enjoying the outdoors is one of our favorite pastimes,” Karin says, “thus the indoor-outdoor concept was crucial.” However, the home’s location in a flood zone required a 6 1/2-foot elevation change between the first floor and grade. To meet this requirement, Beck and Tisdale thought in terms of lifting the ground to meet the structure. “The back patio is raised so that it connects to the interiors on the same plane,” Tisdale explains, “then gently steps back down to grade via a cascade of concrete plinths.” He credits the terrazzo-like finish of these white shell-topped concrete terraces–one of many refined touches specified by landscape designer Tim Borden and implemented by Ampersand Construction–as the key to their visual impact. For the grounds, Borden conceived a lush, exciting landscape that would not compete with the architecture, noting that “order and jungle-y chaos” coexist amid a blend of clean edges and more organic arrangements of vegetation.
The rest of the exterior palette is pared down to essentials: stucco, steel, aluminum and wood. “We used rich-stained cypress in the breezeway and balconies where it’s protected from weather,” Beck says. Exuberant color elements are sensitively used throughout to achieve visual drama, such as a luminous coral-pink wall above the pool, lime green entry doors, and slender columns painted an eggplant hue, Tisdale notes, “to celebrate their structural importance.”
To amplify the feeling of spaciousness throughout, designer Schuyler Galliano–who is also the homeowners’ daughter-in-law–selected streamlined furnishings. Porcelain and hardwood floors contrast with crisp white walls, which provide a backdrop for the couple’s collection of abstract art. “They wanted hard angles and a spare, Scandinavian vibe,” says Galliano, who took cues from the architecture by creating a neutral palette with occasional splashes of color. In the living area, for example, she offset a low-profile gray sectional and onyx cocktail table with a chandelier that she powder-coated in a coral hue to match the exterior wall by the pool. Galliano, who has a love of stone, is perhaps proudest of the master bath, with its striking inset of green Brazilian marble in the shower, and the seamless quartz kitchen island that took six men to carry into the house and install.
Working to achieve the goals set forth by the homeowners, the architects conceived a layout that is in constant conversation with nature. The first reveal beyond the breezeway entry is an unobstructed view of the courtyard. “Our former residence never had enough patio area to accommodate large crowds,” says Karin, who likes to have live music and plenty of room for dancing when entertaining. In the primary living space–which contains a triple-height living room, open kitchen and dining area–is a wall of floor-to-ceiling folding and stacking glass doors that, when opened, brings the rooms outside. The end result is harmonious and serene, with a home and garden that feel inextricably linked.
In describing her deep connection to the residence, Karin returns to the owl’s mysterious appearance. “For me it was an omen,” she says. “This house was destined to be very special in every way, and it has continued to provide enchanting surprises.”