Home of the Month | November 2105

Let’s be honest. We all may love Florida, but most of us came here later in life, after years spent growing up elsewhere. There simply aren’t that many of us who are truly, lifelong, native Floridians. But two of our newest neighbors can make that claim; they even can point to generations of Floridian ancestors who came before them! With that unique perspective, Amy and Kevin Kelso have designed, built, and inhabited a home that is both uniquely Floridian and a perfect fit for an established Florida.

Having lived in Florida for their whole lives, Kevin and Amy knew both what they wanted, and what they didn’t, when they began building this new home on a vacant lot on 24th Ave. They had lived for 25 years on Snell Isle, building their careers and family and spending lots of time and effort renovating the home they had. But rising flood insurance rates and an empty nest drove them to find another option. One day, driving by the empty double lot with the builder’s signs staked in the ground, they quickly saw the promise and contacted the builder, which had planned to build a spec house here.

2015 11 front of houseAnd in a way, the builder did: It was built precisely to Amy and Kevin’s specifications. Kevin did his own online search for a bungalow that would fit on a narrow lot. From this foundation, they adjusted, added, and shifted elements to ensure the home was exactly what they wanted and needed. For example, they knew that they no longer wanted to spend their weekends pushing a mower, so they created a Florida-friendly front yard that, once established, will require little upkeep. They added bamboo along the side and back to ensure their privacy on the somewhat narrow lot. In the back, rather than more yard, they made sure they had a parking pad, in addition to the garage. That’s needed because Kevin’s truck—required to be able to tow his boat, a demand that many good Floridians understand—takes up a lot of space.

Inside the home, they also paid close attention to what would work for them today and in the future. As Amy explained, they hope to stay in this house for the rest of their lives. So while designing it, they followed recommendations contained in the “Boomer Smarts” books and guides published by Amy’s cousin Mitzi Beach (see www.mitzibeach.com). The “Boomer Smarts” plan suggests making homes accessible, even before their inhabitants require accessibility considerations. As Amy explains, “You don’t have to be old to think about things that can keep you in your home.”

Thus, the downstairs floors are all laminate (though they look remarkably like hardwood). All the doorways—many of them featuring pocket doors—are at least three feet wide, so that if they ever need mobility assistance, Amy and Kevin can easily get around. The master bedroom is downstairs, and the shower in the master bath is open, easy to access, and equipped with a stability bar. None of these features are needed yet, nor are they likely to be required anytime soon. But by stylishly adding them to the design of their house now, Kevin and Amy have prepared for most possible eventualities as they age.

2015 11 shower      2015 11 kitchen      2015 11 kitchen 2 story

In the meantime, though, they have hosting to do, and they designed the house with those current needs in mind too. Quite simply, the kitchen is remarkable. It was large in the original design, and it was one of the few elements that Amy and Kevin decided to keep. A two-tiered island features a cutting-height rectangular shape, attached to a curved-edge, square seating area. The sophisticated granite on the island is complemented by silestone counters over the cabinets, then matched with a patterned backsplash. Rising above the kitchen is a balcony, because in this expansive-feeling floorplan, the kitchen opens to a two-story seating area.

Just off the kitchen, you find one of the most fun elements of the house: a butler’s pantry that features a wet bar, housing a two-tap kegerator. Kevin and Amy love craft beers, especially those available in St. Petersburg’s local scene. Explaining the presence of such features (as if any explanation were needed), they also tell stories of generations of hospitality and a family legacy of some serious barbeque.

2015 11 loftThe décor is cleanly and beautifully Florida as well. In addition to decorative fish sculptures and art, the upstairs loft (above the kitchen) is developing a Key West theme. Their son lives in Key West, running fishing tours, and they love the island as well. Just past this loft, a bonus room hosts Rays posters and paraphernalia, along with a cozy couch, ready for lounging and watching movies—just as soon as they find some break in their hectic schedules to lounge, that is.

Also upstairs, two guest bedrooms are connected by a cleverly designed Jack-and-Jill bath that spans the staircase. For now, the cats Kaki and Chloe have laid claim on one of the bedrooms, but the open and inviting space makes it ideal for guests to spread out and enjoy the upstairs suite all to themselves.

Ultimately, the careful and thoughtful design of this new home make it a gorgeous addition to the neighborhood. The home at 765 24th Ave. might be brand new, but its proportions, décor, and design—along with its inhabitants—feel as if they have always belonged here.

Photo Credits: ©Elisabeth Nevins Caswell


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