2003 Idea House: Live Oak Cottage

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.

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