For decades, Anna Maria Island has been a treasured retreat for one Lakeland couple. “We’ve been coming here since we were teenagers,” the wife reminisces. Their family’s vacation home on the island had a prime location on Bimini Bay, yet they couldn’t help but envy the better views next door—so they purchased the neighboring property, sold theirs and constructed a new residence. “I wanted something unique—different from every other home on the island,” the wife says, noting the abundance of surrounding three-story structures. “We didn’t want it to be massive; we wanted it to be comfortable and clean.”
To bring this vision to life, the family entrusted the professionals who had remodeled their previous house: the husband-and-wife team of general contractor Greg Ross and builder Lee Ross as well as builder Max Gazzo. “They wanted a ‘forever vacation’ home,” Lee describes. The waterfront setting offered an idyllic atmosphere, but the triangular-shaped lot proved a challenge for maintaining curb appeal and backyard space. That’s how architect Don Cooper came up with the idea to twist the abode to the right. “Typically, you line up a house with the street,” he explains. “In this case, we set the house at a slight angle to orient it toward the views.”
The lot configuration wasn’t the only restriction with a silver lining. Because the property is in a flood zone, the main floor had to be raised—which allowed for the creation of a courtyard underneath the center of the structure. Finished with shell pavers, this space contains the pool and opens to enamoring vistas of the bay and grounds by landscape designer John Altman. “It’s enticing to walk through the courtyard door,” Gazzo says.
Responding to the residence’s breezy location, the architect designed the façade in an Anglo- Caribbean style with durable materials that would withstand saltwater. Made of concrete, the home has a stucco finish and metal roof. The exterior metal railings mimic wood without the risk of deterioration, while painted cypress ceilings resist humidity. Adding to the tropical look is the white exterior, complemented by doors and shutters in a coastal green. “Bringing in color breaks up the façade,” Lee notes. The bold selection is the result of a contest between Lee and the wife, who shared their favorite colors on Instagram and let their followers vote (the client’s won).
Inside, “the owners wanted a lot of different spaces to gather,” Lee says. So Cooper shaped the structure in an H form, which easily designates public and private wings. “It was like putting together a puzzle,” he recalls. “It’s a symmetrical plan, rotated to pick up the best views on the site.” The kitchen, for instance, opens to an outdoor covered living area as well as the great room—the bridge of the H, above the courtyard. The bright, vaulted space is lined with oversize windows offering views of Bimini Bay on one side and the beaches of Anna Maria on the other. “The day-to- day experience of the house imbues a connection to nature and water,” the architect says.
Designer Blake Scarbrough, a longtime family friend who had completed their previous residence next door, aimed to make the new interiors a comfortable retreat. “The clients wanted a refuge that would be calm and serene—coastal but not themed,” he describes. Echoing the exterior, the designer accented pure white interior walls with touches of green to draw attention to statement features, such as the entry’s patterned concrete tile flooring. The clean white kitchen boasts a celadon backsplash in an argyle pattern as well as saloon pantry doors the same color as the shutters. The one place where he emphasized the beach house feel is the powder room, home to a blowfish-print wallpaper and brass lights resembling oyster shells.
Durability was important inside as well. In the great room, Scarbrough selected a muted-green wool rug, heavy cotton slipcovered furnishings and chairs in a striped teal pattern that swivel toward the windows. The dining area’s painted pine table extends for large gatherings, and the outdoor spaces’ teak furnishings hold up to the elements.
Just as the wife desired, the house stands out among its neighbors for accomplishing the homeowners’ needs without being grand, Lee says. “It’s getting a lot of attention on Anna Maria,” she adds. “It captures views and creates livable space all on two stories. It’s refreshing.”