Jane McGinty’s friends were speechless when they saw her newly purchased home in the Siesta Key beachfront neighborhood of Sanderling. Most just stood and stared.
The 1953 ranch-style house had low ceilings, tiny bedrooms and a dysfunctional floor plan that did not take advantage of the home’s beautiful natural setting on Heron Lagoon. The kitchen had cracked white tile floors, 50-year-old appliances and a cramped galley with barely three feet of walking space between the yellowing white Formica cabinets. A white-walled family room, with ugly aluminum sliders that obscured outdoor views, completed the disheartening scene.
“I completely understood their reactions,” laughs McGinty. “On several occasions my husband, Bill, and I wondered why we bought the place.” Still, they loved the neighborhood’s quiet, leafy streets and secluded lots, and the home’s low-slung silhouette worked for their vision of a Spanish hacienda. So they took a deep breath and jumped into the deep end of remodeling.
Dead-set against razing the house and unwilling to add another story, the McGintys opted instead to lift living room ceilings from just over seven feet to nearly 10. They lopped off the original kitchen and family room and created an open one more than double the size.
Stucco walls received an adobe-like finish, and custom-made casement windows framed in wood were added. The windows establish a link to Mother Nature via a handsome wall of glass. Family room space was enhanced further by a new 60-foot screened porch right on the lagoon and an enchanting outdoor living room that links kitchen and family room with courtyard and pool. By opening windows and doors, the McGintys can sit anywhere in their new kitchen and family room and feel totally surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.
The new homeowners even made an exciting contribution to the existing wildlife habitat. “When the clay tiles arrived from Mexico, the guys pried open one of the crates and an enormous lizard crawled out,” says McGinty. “He’s still around, living somewhere on the property.”
Mexican tile on the floors, an outdoor fireplace, imported Latia wood for the outdoor ceiling, and adobe walls painted a color called Deer Path created the right ambiance. The McGintys rolled up their sleeves and refinished all of the home’s wooden doors themselves. They imported an authentic wooden gate from Mexico for the walled courtyard and ordered a burbling fountain crafted of smooth, polished stones to enhance the bricked courtyard. Ann Castilow, a designer and good friend, helped select finishes and furnishings and integrated pieces they already owned. Castilow also painted several original oils that hang throughout the house.
Their contractor (and Ann’s son), Grant Castilow, discovered sources for quality craftsmanship at competitive prices. “I wanted polished concrete counters and couldn’t find anyone to do the work,” explains McGinty, “so Grant called a company in Atlanta and they shipped the countertops and the farm sink made of the same material. It is exactly what I wanted.”
Stainless appliances, solid wood cabinets made of golden pine and heavy metal pulls on drawers and doors give the kitchen a rustic, Southwestern flavor. A massive island with curving breakfast bar and shelves, set below a black wrought-iron pot rack, is the centerpiece.
Several of the couple’s antiques, including a drop-leaf table, dry sink and pie safe, are placed throughout the family room and paired with newer pieces, such as four leather and wood chairs from Mexico and a set of wooden bar stools hand-painted by Ann. A primitive iron chandelier over the casual dining table is non-electrified and offers only natural candlelight. A hammered copper coffee table works with a copper lamp made from an old moonshine still that the McGintys bought during their college days and actually used to make moonshine once. “The alcoholic beverage we produced was really bad and really strong,” Jane says. “We think the still makes a much better lamp.” Peruvian woven floor rugs, an African dough bowl filled with antique buoys and a curving leather sofa in a deep cinnamon shade provide a rich mix of texture and warm color.
Just outside the family room door, McGinty created an outdoor living room with comfortable seating around the fireplace hearth, two skylights flanking a swirling paddle fan and a big-screen television concealed behind carved wooden doors. Surrounded by thick walls, the outdoor living area feels protected and private and is a natural extension of the home’s indoor space.
The project required 16 months to complete, but McGinty says the result was worth the wait. “I‘ve always liked the look and materials used in the Southwest and am pleased that the style translated so well to Sarasota,” she says. “The transformation from what the house was like to the current house was amazing to watch. We get a different reaction from people now.”
DESIGN TEAM: Grant Castilow of Castilow Construction; Ann Castilow of Ann Castilow Designs.