Achord front of home

Gorgeous Built-Ins around the Fireplace- Before and After

Before After

I did a little bit of research after I talked with our wonderful customers, Cecil and Joan. I didn’t know in the thirteen years I’ve lived in Florida, that when people first began relocating to Florida many years ago, people from the Northeast predominately drove south on I-95 and settled along the east coast of Florida. Conversely, people from the Midwest often, headed south on I-75 and settled on the west coast of Florida. As the third largest state by population size in the entire country, I knew that Florida has long been a popular retirement destination for many because of its mild winters, beautiful beaches, attractive housing prices and the lack of a state income tax.

While the weather and sunshine throughout Florida are equally beautiful, when it comes time to decide which Florida coast to live on, the east coast or west coast, the choice can be hard to make. Some people considering Florida for retirement already have their minds made up on which coast they’re going to live on. Maybe they’ve vacationed in or visited a certain area often to have their minds made up. Or maybe they have friends and relatives that live in a certain area and they want to live near them.

So, which is better? The East Atlantic coast or the West Gulf of Mexico coast? In general, the Atlantic side of Florida is considered to have a faster-paced lifestyle than the Gulf coast. The northeast coastal areas are much like New York City with a fast paced more urban and liberal feel. The city-like feel of many east coast areas offers great amenities, restaurants, and night-life. Florida’s Atlantic coast beaches, by contrast, have more of a light brown, golden tone to them and will feel warmer to the touch. The beaches here are usually windier due to the Atlantic coast breeze. This creates larger waves and is much better for surfing.  Another difference between the coasts is that beachgoers to the Atlantic beaches will often see large cruise and cargo ships in the distance as these are designated shipping channels.

The areas along the west coast of Florida are generally more laid back, with a more Midwestern-small-town feel. The beaches have won awards for their beautiful, white sand beaches and clear, calm waters. On the west coast there are calm coastal waters along the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the Gulf coast is generally more spread out and has a more suburban feel. And, of course, there are far fewer worries of hurricanes on this side of the state.

Have I bored you, yet? Are you still with me?

Before After

Let’s get back to our wonderful customers, Cecil and Joan, shall we? They met in Virginia Beach where they both were living. They eventually married and moved to the East coast of Florida. They still have a farm in SW Virginia.  But they finally grew tired of the fast-paced life style, and ever-increasing population on the East coast. So, after the Covid-19 ban was lifted, they traveled across the sunshine state. They checked into Gasparilla Inn located on a magical island in Boca Grande. Boca Grande is located just off the northwest Gulf coast of Fort Myers. Incidentally, Boca Grande is where one of my favorite gorgeous beaches is located. It is my favorite place on earth, where I sit on my beach chair, and people watch.

By the end of the week, Cecil and Joan knew for certain that they wanted to move to the west coast. They decided they did not want to live on the island, but they desired a home with a pool and on a canal.  

Unfortunately, (of course) things didn’t go exactly as they planned. The first house they found they missed out on, because of a bidding war. “It was the perfect house. A unique design. Spacious.” That’s how Joan wistfully described the house that got away. Cecil and Joan had envisioned living there, but lost it to another bidder. “But it was not to be,” Joan said with a smile. However, they ended up getting an exceptional opportunity to buy this stunning two-story, stucco home located in Placida, with a swimming pool and private balcony overlooking the canal.

The medium age in Placida, Florida is 65.3 years. The population 2,121, unless of course, someone died since the writing of this blog.

The two-story home itself is a truly generous sized 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom home that greets you with character and charm from the moment you walk through the front doors. The impressive front porch leads inside to an even grander foyer. Built in 2007, no expense was spared to turn this home into a modern masterpiece. High ceilings with handsome wood trim wainscoting details showcase the luxurious interiors.  

Before After

This is where I came into the picture. Why? Well, have you ever moved into a new home at one time or another, and you were faced with the look called “just-moved-in-blah-emptiness”? There is a very large wall where the fireplace is. Joan felt the fireplace wall, with neutral color wainscoting, was not particularly exciting. The new homeowners mounted the TV above the mantle. And that was it—there was no other color, décor, or storage to the space. After having watched HGTV for years, Joan wanted to give the area some more character and charm. She also wanted to make it more functional, too. Joan asked me to design 8-ft. wide built-ins on each side of the fireplace. She wanted it to look symmetrical. After all, this is what the homeowners will look at day in and day out…day in…and day out.

Adding some built-ins to this wall may seem like a straight forward solution. But to me, the scale of the fireplace mantle and TV looked very off, relative to the size of the wall it was on. I wanted the fireplace to look wider. So, I knew Just Counters & other stuff would have to widen the fireplace wall, but I also knew this could be super tricky!

Consequently, when I designed the built-ins, I widened the wall with equal amounts of drywall on either side of the fireplace to the correct proportion of the TV and mantle. So, once the fireplace was framed out by Just Counters & other stuff’s talented team: Bill Daniels and Aaron Schaffer, then Tommy McCaffrey professionally installed the built-in cabinetry. They truly did an amazing job!

The space now looks completely different—and much more personal than the old “just-moved-in-blah-emptiness” one that was there before. While we’re on the subject, I think it was a brilliant idea for Joan to switch out the causal wicker furniture in the sitting room and make it into a dining room. She replaced the tropical palm leaf ceiling fan with the unique bird chandelier which she brought with her from Virginia Beach. I’m in love with it!

Before After

Cecil and Joan are ecstatically happy with the results! See you next week.


One Response

Add a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment