Welcome to our architectural review newsletter. This up-close look behind the scenes and the mind of Harry Gandy Howle reflects how each finished home is a project of energy and enthusiasm that represents an intense level of attention to details.
The history behind the home is interesting and it holds fond memories for me. As fate would have it, the 2016 whole-home renovation was actually the second time our firm was hired to provide design for this oceanfront home. In 1985 we had the honor of designing the original home for Frances “Buck” Rodgers, the retired Vice President of Marketing for IBM. He brought to the project the same IBM mantra that the customer comes first – respect the individual, give the customer excellent service, and it will translate into superior performance in product and service. That philosophy fit well with our team and we adopted it as our mission statement for our future successes.
Fast forward three decades later, and the couple who purchased the property wanted a home large enough for their children and grandchildren to enjoy. Their request was a relaxed, seaside cottage expertly designed, making the most of every square foot. Although larger, the home’s new open floor plan is both casual and inviting – including a beautiful outdoor living area that is strikingly different than the more formal 1980’s residence. The joy that both families experienced in this home is gratifying. I believe the vision that Buck originally imparted to us lives on.
The design style is British West Indies. It’s important to note that the same style was carried over to the most recent renovation. With the original build in 1987, the British West Indies vernacular was not common in Vero Beach, much less the community of John’s Island. This new style coincided with Orchid Island’s development of their golf and beach club and their prescription for the new residences to be of the same vernacular. The domestic architecture of Barbados was being touted as their model, however they were unable to fully express what the elements of this style entailed. So, we went to Barbados and scoured the island to scout out examples.
Back then, we knew that those who were gravitating to Vero Beach were like-minded individuals who shared similar visions, but we really didn’t know how wide-spread it would eventually become. Today, this style is a common look and feel in our coastal communities. It’s gratifying to know we were one of the first to embrace it.
Probably the most striking difference is the development of the home’s lower level. The owners wanted to maximize the space by nearly doubling the size of the home. We developed 2,000 square feet of under-air space on the lower level. We were able to accomplish this because we designed the original home at an elevation of 26 feet above mean sea level situated above a crawl space. We determined that by excavating 12 inches of sand we could pour a floor slab and accommodate an appropriate ceiling height to develop a lower-level living area. Working around our existing concrete columns, we were able to configure the new rooms that now function as a game room, mud room, exercise area and extra storage space.
The all-in-one living room, dining room and kitchen areas are favorites because it provides a more casual cottage atmosphere with its open floor plan – exactly what the clients wanted. To enhance the casual cottage style, we used textural finishes such as tongue and groove wood ceilings with boxed beams. The new oceanfront pool along with its wet-deck is another favorite. Having been raised an additional 18” in elevation, it now has an easily maintained stone deck that leads your eyes out to the beautiful ocean beyond. It’s ideal for family gatherings.