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London Bay brings imaginative family retreat to life on 1.5-acre homesite in Mediterra

by MED Marketing

Dan and Amy Sokolowski had only one stipulation for their new custom estate by London Bay in Mediterra – it would be their last.“We’ve built homes every four to five years and decided this was going to be it,” said Dan. “It was important to us to create a home where we can entertain the grandkids and family, geared toward outdoor living.”

From Ohio, where they enjoyed 11 private acres, the couple retired to Southwest Florida in 2013 where they have had residences in both Barefoot Beach and Port Royal. At Barefoot Beach, they shared their Gulf of Mexico backyard with beachgoers; in Port Royal they enjoyed a boat in the backyard but could hear the neighbor on the phone.

“We liked the water and beach life when visiting or on vacation but decided living on the water wasn’t as important to us anymore,” said Dan. “We can always go to the water. We wanted our privacy again.”

The Sokolowskis were scouting larger properties when they discovered the 1.5-acre homesite in Mediterra’s Il Cuore neighborhood, an exclusive gated enclave of only two homes nestled along a 50-acre preserve. Measuring at least twice the acreage of their previous Southwest Florida properties, the homesite provided the space and privacy for a full-time residence and family retreat in an established community known for its amenities and lifestyle.

They purchased the property in March 2021, then let their imaginations run wild, working with London Bay’s custom home team to create a one-of-a-kind estate unique to them. In addition to etching out special places for passions and pastimes, this awe-inspiring residence introduces the top features of a favorite resort destination and the childhood nirvana of a waterpark to a residential setting.

From a winding lazy river with a swim-up bar and a prep kitchen designed for the assistance of young chefs, the Sokolowskis’ custom home is destined to become the place their family gathers for holidays, vacations, sleepovers with the grandchildren, and other memory-making moments. The home’s features also include designated spaces for the couple’s passions: for Dan, a 12-car barn to showcase his collection and, for Amy, a home office and music room to house her piano.

“We checked off the boxes for what we wanted out of retirement life,” said Dan. “We wanted the same conveniences and privacy we had in Ohio, the same lifestyle but nicer weather. It’s like we’re returning to our Midwestern roots.”

London Bay’s custom approach to homebuilding helped the couple define their wish list as did a team of the top local talents, including longtime builder partners, Stofft Cooney Architects and Exteriors by Koby Kirwin for hardscape and landscape design, as well as the couple’s interior designer Molly Grup of Ficarra Design Associates.

Currently under construction, the family retreat spans over 16,600 square feet in three buildings, including the nearly 12,000-square-foot main house, the car barn with an office and a two-story boutique hotel-inspired guesthouse accessible by bridge.

“It has the presence of a manor,” London Bay Vice President Steve Miller said of the main home’s architecture with its mansard rooflines and stone-clad parapets inspired by French country estates. “They had great ideas and there was a lot of thought behind every detail. This home is really an expression of who they are. Amy likes to cook and bake with the grandchildren, so a prep kitchen was incorporated. A guesthouse for adult guests feels like an upscale hotel, while guest bedrooms in the main house were designed for the grandchildren. Most of the rooms are not formal except for the dining room, which has a floor-to-ceiling wine display reminiscent of a five-star restaurant.”

The homesite easily accommodated the lazy river, which carved out an island for the spa, a lawn for cornhole and other games, and cabanas with daybeds in shallow sun shelves. A stylish bridge connects the home’s expansive covered and open-air living spaces to the guesthouse, featuring a yoga studio and exercise room on its ground floor with stunning preserve views. London Bay used varying elevations to create a unique landscape and convenient access to gardens and outdoor spaces, such as a chipping and putting green and a covered fireplace pavilion with a billiard table and TV.

“The size of the homesite is really unprecedented in this market and the land afforded us the ability to create a signature home with special outdoor areas,” said Miller. “This property is three times the average size of a lot in Port Royal, has 360-degree views including sanctuary views of the preserve, incredible privacy and a natural connection to outdoor spaces.”

Most rooms flow outside. The master suite, the great room, four spacious second-floor bedrooms and a ground-floor VIP bedroom with a large lounge have private terraces and balconies. The music room also accesses a balcony and has a large circular bar that echoes the curlicue of a treble clef, as well as, the curvature of the staircase and domed ceiling vestibule.

Kirwin’s landscape design creates natural canopies for shade, gardens and a waterscape with a reflecting pool and steppingstones as the backdrop for the music room, master suite’s sitting room and a Zen Garden off the master bathroom. For the lazy river – a London Bay first – the builder worked with a specialty consultant and a hydraulic engineer. The equivalent of four custom pools, the river’s shape and configuration determined the placement of waterjets for faster-moving water and eddies for areas to hang out, Miller said.

The Sokolowskis were also interested in advancing technology for Wi-Fi-controlled whole-home automation, increased energy efficiency and solar panels for collecting power and offsetting the home’s energy footprint.

The estate is a true reflection of the couple’s preferences and lifestyle, a home that’s not only designed for them, but works with them.

“London Bay took the time to get to know the way we live in a home and how it should function for us,” said Dan. “This is the best team we’ve worked with. London Bay puts the emphasis on home; a lot of builders just build a house.”

London Bay Homes’ custom home designs can be seen in private residences throughout Southwest Florida’s most prestigious neighborhoods. Guided by a philosophy of Private Label Living, every project by London Bay emphasizes a commitment to superior customer service, attention to detail, continued innovation and premier quality. An in-house team provides a collaborative, personalized approach to homebuilding, creating private residences that make the most of their homesites and exceed expectations. With over 30 years of building experience, London Bay has received more than 450 industry awards for homebuilding excellence.

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