It’s a style perfectly suited for Lakewood Ranch, and it’s here in force.
The Ranch is growing. To the north, east and south, new communities are going up. And while the great tradition of classic Mediterranean architecture is still being honored, there’s a new look in town. It’s called coastal.
It’s often confused with “beach house,” but it’s really so much more. The coastal look blends the lowland architecture of the Old South with the nostalgic appeal of a vacation at the shore. And these days, the West Indies style is also getting into the game, with its teak accents and dark wood trim.
But coastal has its cottage side, and that’s the charm of the homes in the still-building Mallory Park community. Here, many of the homes might best be called “Craftstman Coastal.”
They have a pleasantly old-fashioned, American look. You’ll find just the right amount of Craftsman elements, those motifs that defined the bungalows of the 1920s: shingled and stone accents, gabled rooflines, multi-paned windows. Some models have front porches just big enough for a rocking chair or two.
But if the exteriors look old-fashioned, the interiors are anything but. The small boxed off rooms of an old Craftsman house have been banished and replaced with an open concept plan. The ceilings are high — and trayed — and you’ll find recessed lighting and smart-home features. The elaborate master suite is totally up to date, with an enormous bath and conveniently located on the ground floor.
Look around a little more, though, and you’ll find plenty of traditional touches. The Springview model has a formal dining room, in addition to more informal dining in the family room, and a bona fide butler’s pantry. There’s even a mudroom located at the door leading out to the garage. The stairway also has a classic look with its turned wood balustrade.
The Springview model I saw was priced at $600,000, including the lot. Most new coastal homes are priced in this range. At around $1 million, the style starts to move toward what is referred to as “West Indies.” These are larger and more imposing homes that often suggest the manor house on a sugar plantation. Georgian architectural elements can be found among the complex mix of shutters and eves and windows. Look for the signature roof line: overhanging, with distinctive wooden brackets. Two good examples are this style are Arthur Rutenberg’s Laguna model and Stock Signature’s Margo model. Both are being built in several of the Ranch’s new communities.
But my favorite, the one that delivers the coastal look plus an authentic feeling of living on the water, is the Tideland model. It’s built by Homes by Towne and is located in the Lakehouse Cove section of Waterside, the new community at the southern edge of the Ranch. Here coastal is the style of choice.
Waterside is by far the most nautical community in Lakewood Ranch. It is being built around seven large lakes, which translates into 20 miles of shoreline. They’re even planning to have water taxis operate, so you can go to the Town Center for dinner — and a show, for this is where the Players Centre for Performing Arts is building its new theater complex.
Waterside will have an enormous impact on life in Lakewood Ranch. More than 5,000 residential units are planned, spread out over 12 neighborhoods. It’s also the first part of the Ranch to be in Sarasota County. Lorraine Road was widened and extended to Fruitville Road, and similar work on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard started in July.
The Town Center will rival Main Street as a place to shop and dine, and all this will be showcased in the most refined coastal architecture of all — that of the Dutch West Indies.
My favorite Waterside house, though, is classic American coastal. It’s a Fourth of July kind of place, perfect family gatherings and long afternoons out by the pool. Everybody feels at home here; it’s a house from our shared past. This is where your cousins lived. Or your grandmother.
OK, maybe not your grandmother. The interior is much too hip and glamorous. There is one large living area that combines living, kitchen and dining. The ceiling is 12 feet high. It’s furnished in traditional coastal style: lots of sun-bleached white — floors, walls and furniture — but plenty of blues, too. Accessories are spare, just enough to provide warmth and texture.
It’s priced at $614,900, plus $115,000 for the premium lakeside lot.
You can still find Spanish-style homes in the new communities, but the coastal look is proving extremely popular. On my second trip to the Tideland, I met Dot and Bill from Philadelphia. They liked the model even more than I did and were deep in consultation. Should they spring for the farmhouse sink? It was a pricey upgrade, but Dot had fallen in love with it.
“The Spanish homes we looked at were beautiful,” Dot told me. “Very exotic, very glamorous. But we used to spend summers at the Jersey shore. And this place … “
She looked around. The sun was bouncing off the lake right outside and the space glowed with light.
“It just feels like home.”