Our house in Tallahassee features an abundance of ideas for anyone who's
interested in living a beautifully organized life.

Named for a majestic tree that shades the rear of the property, Live Oak Cottage is located in SouthWood, a master planned community by Arvida, a St. Joe Company. The 3,200-square-foot home is designed for homeowners approximately 45 to 60 years old who are experiencing significant life-stage changes. Architects Carson Looney and David Kenoyer created this plan for couples who are approaching retirement and whose children no longer live at home. Mike Reininger, senior vice president of creative services for The St. Joe Company, says, "We wanted to come up with a design that would respond in tangible ways to the unique needs of baby boomers who are in transition." Timothy Edmond, Arvida's Capital Region president, adds, "It demonstrates the newest trends in floorspace design and efficiency." The single-level home with its large windows looks friendly and familiar. "We wanted Live Oak Cottage to have roots as a traditional house yet, at the same time, produce a fresh image," says Carson.

Living Outside

For parties and other occasions when additional space is needed, the outdoor area overlooking the pool has the flexibility to serve as an extra room. A long table and chairs can be arranged in front of the fireplace to provide seating for a dozen or more people. When the weather is cool, large exterior doors can be shut and the double-hung windows closed. In warmer months, it opens to the wonderful terrace and pool area designed by landscape architect Patrick Hodges, accommodating more casual gatherings.

Functional Place To Entertain

If you enjoy working at home or sometimes hosting a book club, you'll particularly appreciate the arrangement of the compact study and versatile dining room, both conveniently located at the front of the house. The study holds a pair of desks, one with a computer. It adjoins the dining room, which is lined with tall bookshelves and can serve as extended office space. French doors give the dining room and study a separate entrance. Designer Mary Solomon chose a palette of red, black, and gold that makes these areas visually appealing. For a focal point, the built-ins are painted a rich red.

Molding applied in a gridlike pattern creates the effect of wainscot in the foyer, a nicely proportioned space papered in chocolate brown grass cloth.

Family Time

The family room occupies a large, centrally located space with a vaulted ceiling. Red, green, and gold create a warm color scheme that's animated by plaids and a novelty print fabric with a canine theme. A sofa and three chairs provide flexible seating arrangements. The oversize ottoman, covered in a rug fragment, serves as a coffee table. For the floor, Mary chose a sea grass rug with black cotton binding. The raised stone hearth and mantel, together with an engaging dog portrait, provide a handsome focal point that is in keeping with the room's scale.

Above the family room, exposed dormers add natural light. You also can see through large windows in adjoining areas to both the front garden and the pool at the rear. Architect David Kenoyer says, "We maximized light in this room by allowing it to be more of a connector between the other spaces. It's the heart of the house."

Efficient Kitchen

In this area, the family room's vaulted ceiling levels out and is highlighted by three pendant fixtures. Wooden cabinet doors, along with panels applied to some of the appliances, give the kitchen a continuous look. The island's curved granite countertop is raised to a height of 42 inches, keeping the sink and food prep areas out of sight. The long surface is ideal for buffet-style serving; barstools facilitate informal meals. Two dishwashers make cleanup a breeze. The large chef's washer is convenient for storing large pots when not in use.

Just off the kitchen, the keeping room provides a small sitting area and acts as a convenient transitional space between the kitchen, friends' entry, and dining room.

Utility at Its Best

Off the keeping room and kitchen, on the other side of the friends' entry, is the spacious laundry room. Plenty of counterspace, a front-loading washing machine, and a large sink turn laundry into less of a chore. The painted cabinets provide hidden storage. For ease, this room connects to the dressing area of the master bath.

Serene Suite

The master bedroom contains a sequence of spaces, each designed for a specific use. Fabrics and finishes in varying combinations of buttery yellows, leaf greens, and rich reds give the space color and energy. The four-poster bed, painted in a soft shade of green, wears panels of natural silk-linen fabric, while floral draperies with attached swags frame the window wall. Wooden chairs upholstered in green checked fabric create a comfortable sitting area.

The bath connects the bedroom to the walk-in closets and dressing area. The hand-painted wall finish simulates green Venetian plaster. His-and-hers sinks occupy opposite sides of a peninsula countertop. They're separated by a unique, two-sided, framed mirror that's suspended from the ceiling (see photo at far right).

In the dressing room, a built-in table with a fabric skirt and a mirrored wall are illuminated by sconces. Hand-painted anaglypta wallpaper gives the space an aged softness.

Man's Best Friend

Providing pets with their own space makes caring for them much easier. "We've converted the area adjacent to the laundry room into a combination mudroom/pet hotel," says Mike Reininger. "The dog can get to the backyard through a pet door and has food and water." There's even a shower equipped with a hand-held nozzle to make routine baths less of a chore.

Casual Entrance

Beaded-board wainscot, painted white, adds texture and durability to the friends' entry. Black-and-white toile wallpaper on the upper walls depicts scenes of hunting dogs.

For Safekeeping

Wouldn't it be great to have your own climate-controlled storage unit at home? "We've found in our research that baby boomers in transition have accumulated many possessions--grandma's china, an inherited breakfront, things from their travels. But as they get to this point in their lives, they're more interested in order and simplicity than ever before," Mike says. The archive room gives the homeowners a lockable, well-organized storage area that's accessible from both outside and inside the house. With built-ins and shelving, you can customize this space to safeguard anything that's out of season or not in constant use, such as hunting or fishing equipment, a camera collection, or boxes of family photos.

Ready To Travel

If you enjoy traveling, but dread packing, then you'll love this idea for a to-go area near the closets in the master suite. In one space, you can organize just about everything needed for a trip. Even passports and maps have an assigned spot, and there's a hook for hanging a suit or dress bag. Mike says, "This area is all about simplifying. It's a convenient place to store your luggage. You can open your bag on the counter, fold your clothing, put it in the bag, and out the door you go." Before leaving, you can even wrap a hostess gift, because there's a spot designated for this activity as well.

For Guests

A complete suite of rooms--including two well-appointed bedrooms, spacious baths that connect, and a common area--gives visitors comfortable, private quarters. French doors in one bedroom open to the terrace at the front entrance. And children have their own room.

The guest common room, furnished with a game table, serves the sleeping quarters. With a large chalkboard mural and space for toys, it provides a playroom for visiting grandchildren. The entire sequence of spaces is appealingly decorated in shades of khaki and blue. Carved pencil-post beds and painted wooden furniture pieces make the rooms both informal and inviting.


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