LUXLIFE 2017 | March 2017
The Aquadisia estate lives up to her name—drawn from the spirit of an aphrodisiac, the home is like a drug, giving each who enter a sense of overwhelming serenity, inciting a desire to look inward and quiet the dissonance of the outside world. With the original bones set by Guy Peterson in 1999, new soul was harnessed and infused by land- scape architect David Young of DWYLA and interior designer David Lowe, the duo working in tandem to tone down the once-chaotic elements of the four-acre property and 5,000-square-foot modern house. Now, from the moment you turn through the Buddha Belly bamboo-hedge wall that hides Aquadisia from the Sanderling Club’s main road (albeit mostly made of dirt and sand), waves of calm come flooding, encouraging contemplation and a reorganization of hectic thoughts.
The first step on the ladder to enlightenment comes in the form of a glass cube that appears as an entryway into the front door. A pair of solid marble Chinese Foo dogs stand guard, their pale plated manes and toothy grins demarking a perforation in the known universe, allowing safe passage and protection into a realm of peace and sanctuary. “The cube is about getting refocused and rebalanced before you enter the house,” says Young. “It’s actually the largest cube in Southwest Florida with no armature in the glass.” Once inside, perfect pitch is attainable, with acoustics that billow and echo out over the adjacent reflecting pool and motorcourt; all who step into the glass encasement feel an invitation to change their perception of both the surrounding environment beyond the crystalline walls and also that of the person cradled within.
Wander out of the freestanding glass and find another cocoon made of the same material, this time anchored to the home—the addition of a massage room separate from the master bedroom the brainchild of Young and Lowe. “We wanted to get this space on neutral territory,” says Young. Here, the room’s only designation is one of healing and rebirth; the clear quarters are bathed in minimal white fixtures—including refrigerated drawers—the massage table the focal point, while the supine recipient looks through the walls onto the labyrinthine maze constructed from short-cut grass and concrete—the eye of which bears the eponymous “A” of the estate—or the green expanse of lawn that spans the property, only broken up by a breezeway created by towering royal palms. Peer inside the house proper and you’ll find a sweeping breadth of glass and light, water and air, the bottom level dominated by the view through to the shallow, cerulean mote surrounding the outer west wing—a four-person spa with a crystal fire pit in the middle—and the stretch of sand leading to the aquamarine waters of the Gulf, the only thing separating the house from the swells is an added rock revetment breaking the waves. “You can look at photos of the house and get the overall image of it,” says Krystyna Sznurkowski, senior principal and project manager at DWYLA, “but it isn’t until you are standing between the glass walls and see how the water comes right up to the house that you can feel the space drawing you out. It’s hard to capture that, even in the best photo.” That pull toward the liminal boundary between earth and water pervades both the upper and lower quadrants of the house, every aspect—from the floating top deck with glass railings to a crow’s nest lookout, the pitched ceilings of the second floor to the falling water wall that flanks the lower spa—designed to blur the line between the natural and the man-made, between ties that ground us to the earth and wind that carries us out to sea. More than just a vehicle for spectacular views, Aquadisia is set apart from its luxury counterparts by strategic elements that trick the eye throughout. Young and Lowe had to contend with the owner’s distaste for visible fixtures—not just lights and knobs, but air conditioning ducts and spigots. Thus, the incredible attention to detail comes to the forefront: lights are either recessed into the ceiling or turned into crystals hanging from transparent wire. Move up the knotted wooden staircase and enter into what resembles a Buddhist temple or Japanese teahouse—the wooded ceiling coming to a point, literally lifting the gaze and the breath up to the heavens—with a sunset glow ascending the pitched beams from concealed lighting behind the lipped cove. “We spent days testing the lights so that the warmth on the wood was just right,” says Young. Head into the master bedroom (or “sleeping chamber”) and you’ll find the same vaulted tearoom ceiling—the wood just a tiny shade lighter—an addition to mirror the adjacent original. While surrounded by floor- to-ceiling windows looking out over the personal spa in the foreground and the Gulf waters lapping at the rocks in the background, the owner wanted complete darkness for shut-eye; Young and Lowe had to create precisely cut blackout blinds with no-show levers for each tall window. “It had to be absolute perfection—not one stitch of light,” says Young.
It was the same idea when it came to the master bath—the freestanding basin tub needed to have completely clean lines (sans spigot and knobs); here, Lowe and Young installed a dreamy waterfall that cascades from a hidden opening in the ceiling, filling the cup seamlessly without excess—the nearby shower a simple grate on the floor with no walls to cage the bather as they gaze over the property in its entirety, the royal palms now at eye level. In the grandiose closet—which rivals the bedroom in size—shoji screen-inspired doors slide on unseen tracks, gleaming hooks spring from within the walls and AC floats down silently from slits in the ceiling. Ultimately, Aquadisia begets an aura of contentment, a fusion of body and mind with the simple processes that occur in the natural world. “Overall, we began with the outside so that it would envelop the inside,” says Young. “And we always had in mind that it needed to be very environmentally responsible.” This fluidity and yin/yang ideal not only springs from the aquatic elements that engulf the property, but also the closeness of used materials to what is found just outside the doors—shell-top concrete floors, wood and greenery, sunlight and air. Both inside and outside the transparent walls of Aquadisia, the mind’s natural insight is allowed to grow and prosper, finding serenity and harmony.
Editor’s Note: The Aquadisia estate is owned by Jeff Roberti and is currently on the market through Kim Ogilvie at Michael Saunders & Company.
Clothing provided by Lotus Boutique, eyewear provided by Spectacle Gallery, swimwear provided by Shore Brand, jewelry provided by Diamond Vault.
Hair and makeup: Eri Tsuno, Eri Vincent Makeup, Wilhelmina Artists.
Model: Mollie Gondi, Alexa Model and Talent.