A just-completed Lake Club home is as elegant as it is smart.
Homes in Lakewood Ranch are not just getting more luxurious. They’re also getting smarter. More and more layers of technology are being added to smooth out daily life and keep us protected, entertained and comfortable. And as they do so, we discover new aspects of what a home can be. It’s not just a place to live anymore. The home has become a member of the family.
Not that any family member is so unfailingly helpful, polite and eager to please. Take this lavish new home in The Lake Club. It even has its own way of welcoming you.
You’re in your car on the final stretch, and you see it up ahead. White and bold, crisp and contemporary, a refined cross between coastal and West Indian. You open an app on your phone and press Arrive Home, and the house goes into action: The garage door opens, and the lights come on. The main door is unlocked, along with the security system. The lights in the hallway come on, plus those in the kitchen. I’m reasonably certain a welcome home song could be programmed in and possibly a cold martini.
The owners of the tech showplace are Charlie and Kerry Desfosses. This is their third home in the Ranch. Each was a little bigger than the one before, and the lessons the couple learned have all been incorporated into a brand new home that fits their lifestyle perfectly and offers them exactly what they want. There’s even a brand new Ferrari in the garage.
The Ferrari (an F 8 model) is parked next to a silver Bentley, and the job of protecting these beauties has given the house a state-of-the-art security system. There are 23 exterior security cameras, plus numerous motion and body-heat detectors. Anyone or anything encroaching on the property is immediately lit and recorded. Fortunately, the only intruders sighted so far have been several raccoons and a deer from the nature preserve across the street.
The home does more than protect, though. It happily performs a long list of tasks and chores, never complaining and always up to the challenge. It raises and lowers the shades in the master bedroom at exactly the right time. It turns on the pool lights and can program them in an endless variety of colors and patterns. Same with the pool jets, which arc gracefully over the water. The mosquito misters in the garden regularly spray a burst of organic repellent. The 38-kilowatt generator kicks in automatically if needed. Even the front door, 10 feet high with thick glass and wood, turns opaque in the evening for extra privacy.
The home is an Arthur Rutenberg model, constructed by Derek Nelson Builders with a number of tweaks and special features. Because the lot itself is so large, a second garage was added, separated from the main house by a motor court. The extra land also allowed for a spacious lawn and garden, which slope down gracefully to the edge of a large lake.
In spite of its tech mindset, the home has an elegant traditional look. Fabrics are soft and textured; colors are subtle and subdued. Blues, grays and off-whites predominate. Accents are used judiciously and with imagination. Wood trim warms certain rooms. In others the glint of silver and chrome make the atmosphere sparkle. You’ll see several wall murals adding color and substance. The one in the family room was hand painted while the one in the master bedroom was computer-generated.
Nelson has a decorating team that helped Charlie and Kerry furnish the home. “They gave us a lot of choices,” Charlie says. The results give the house an easy flow from room to room. Elements don’t so much match as complement one another. There are four bedrooms in all, plus a dedicated office just off the entrance hall. It is lined with shelves, behind which is a hidden secret door. “In case the tax man drops by,” Charlie says with a laugh.
Charlie and Kerry are not exactly snowbirds. They travel back and forth between the Ranch and their New Hampshire home but on no set schedule. Visiting family and friends is an important part of their lives — they have four children and eight grandkids — and for these visitors the home’s outdoor living area is a prized amenity. It’s a vast space, screened in such a way to allow uninterrupted long views of the lake. There’s an outdoor kitchen, plus a pool and an infinity spa — of course, all programed as to temperature — and a “sun shelf,” a corner of the pool just inches deep, with lounge chairs and sun umbrellas so you can sip your margarita half in and half out of the water.
The home’s master bedroom is cool and elegant, with a separate space that could be another office or exercise room. And in the elaborate master bath, you’ll find that your home is also your shower buddy. The lights come on automatically as you enter. There is a large 8-foot-by-12-foot marble lined shower room; each end has its own rain forest shower head, plus a hand-held unit. An electronic pad on the wall greets you by name and immediately delivers your preferred temperature and spray options. The morning news is heard through speakers, with myriad options for lighting and music.
Just like a family member, the home’s computer system has its own room. A large walk-in closet actually, it contains the necessary servers and controls, all designed and maintained by Telephone Network Technology. It might seem complicated, but as Charlie says, “Once it’s programmed, it’s simple.”
The home is an exciting look into the future. Technology is creating all kinds of new options and opportunities, but as this showplace in The Lake Club confirms, they work best when they reinforce the idea of home as the heart and soul of family life.
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