It's not like LRK And ISSA Homes were new kids on the block. LRK associate principal Mark Jones is the town architect for Celebration, and Issa Homes has built more than 300 residences in the TND since its inception by the Walt Disney Co. in 1994. But this house was different.
For starters, the lot was a weird, trapezoidal patch of turf measuring 80 feet wide and 175 feet deep on its east side, but 204 feet deep to the west, where the property line snuggled up to recaptured wetlands. Then came the home's 1920s Arts and Crafts aesthetic—a departure from the plans book for Celebration.
“We still needed to adhere to timeless principles of scale, proportion, and connecting to the street,” says Carson Looney, principal at LRK. “But another house with six columns across the front would have been so-what. We were excited to show we could design a home that picked up the character of this historic style and to show that it could be adapted to work in a new urbanist community.”
From the front, the home reads as a modest structure, with its two-story stucco massing, laid-back front patio, and welcoming porte cochere. It's when you view the residence from the side that the true breadth of its wingspan becomes apparent. To the west, the floor plan curls around a killer pool terrace with spectacular views of an adjacent pond and a tropical forest. On the east side, the architecture stretches out to accommodate two additional entrances (including a drop-off spot under the porte cochere and a “friends entrance” that allows kids to make a beeline via a back staircase to their rooms) plus a three-car garage—an absolute necessity for big families with multiple drivers and lots of cars.
“The laws of nature and light dictated what this house would be—a long progression of functional spaces with a courtyard on the west side,” says Chris Haley, project manager with LRK. The home's long, skinny footprint not only maximizes views of that water amenity to the west, but ensures that its interior spaces, deftly outfitted with Pella windows and doors, are flooded with natural light.
“If you have rooms with windows just on one side, bright sun creates glare,” says Looney. “In this house, almost all the rooms have windows on two if not three sides. Natural light makes a house feel good. People walk in and say, ‘I don't know what it is, but this home feels right.'”
MAKING THE GRADE The lot's odd shape wasn't the only thing that made it a bear: It also sloped significantly in back. “Normally we would incorporate steps into the patio areas to ease that transition,” says Don Hempel, a vice president of Issa Homes, “but given the multigenerational theme of this house and the need for accessible design, that wasn't an option.” Workers brought in fill dirt to level the site around the patio, then buttressed the terrace effect with a 4-foot stem wall made of paver block.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.