It took Rod Brylawski and Charlie Baker 15 years to reach Florida nirvana: a house on the water.
Three months ago, they moved into a 3,500-square-foot home in the Reserve of Old Tampa Bay, an Alvarez Homes community on a peninsula in Town 'N Country that juts into the bay.
Brylawski and Baker first noticed the neighborhood while driving across the Courtney Campbell Causeway. They weren't really looking for a new home but figured it was worth a look.
One Sunday afternoon they visited the sales center and toured the model. When they saw dolphins jumping in the Bay, they were hooked.
At their request the home has several angles, curves and other architecturally interesting features, such as arched doorways, wood-framed windows and a wrought-iron staircase. Every room, except for the downstairs powder room and master bedroom, has an angled or curved wall. Even the laundry room and walk-in pantry.
Windows along the back of the house, which faces west, provide spectacular views of the sunset reflected in the water. At night lights from St. Petersburg and cars on the causeway twinkle in the distance.
"We get it all here," Brylawski says.
During the year-long construction, the pair scoured Tampa looking for the perfect furnishings.
The result: an exquisitely decorated home featuring an eclectic mix of furniture, accessories and artwork from local stores and their world travels.
The table and chairs in the breakfast nook are from Ethan Allen. The Dali-esque kitchen wall clock came from the Nicholson House in Old Hyde Park Village. They found the family room lamp with a glass shade covered in palm trees at Home Depot. And the dining room table, made of solid cherry with rosewood inlays, is from Galloway's.
The Florida room boasts tropical Tommy Bahama furniture and accessories from Annabelle's.
In the downstairs office there's a rug from Hong Kong and water colors purchased in Paris. Baker's collection of Franklin Mint cars is displayed on a bookshelf.
The home has no formal living room because all they would do with it is furnish it, Brylawski says. They would never use it.
Instead, there's a great room that includes a kitchen, breakfast area and large living area with a built-in entertainment center. Transom windows above the doors and windows enhance the view. A remote-control gas fireplace with a red onyx marble mantle and face fills one corner.
The family room, with its neutral walls, tile floors and buttery yellow leather sofas, is punctuated with cobalt blue, red, purple and other bright-colored glass vases, sculptures and lighting. Tiny spotlights with orange, blue, pink and turquoise shades hang above the breakfast bar. A lamp that shines purple on one side and red on the other sits between purple and red leather chairs.
The kitchen has black granite countertops and natural-wood cabinets. Halogen-tube lighting under the cabinets can be dimmed to set a mood. The center island has a sink and wine cooler.
The Hans Grohe faucet, which is made of brushed nickel, is topped with a button that allows the water to flow in a spray or stream. The Asko dishwasher, manufactured in Sweden, is extremely quiet, Brylawski says, and uses one-third the water of a typical dishwasher. The smooth cooktop stove is controlled with a touch-screen panel rather than knobs. The convection oven, topped with a built-in microwave, cooks food in half the time of a regular oven.
Sliding-glass doors open from the family and Florida rooms to a brick patio covered with a tongue-and-groove cypress ceiling. A few steps down are the pool and spa.
The deck is crafted from Trex, a recycled wood and plastic product that looks like wood but supposedly lasts longer. The patio and pool furniture are made from recycled milk bottles.
"It's forever," Brylawski says, adding it's also easy to keep clean.
A boardwalk leads to a boat lift that holds an 18-foot Boston whaler.
The home's second floor is dedicated to the master-bedroom suite. Pocket doors open from the bedroom to a balcony overlooking the water. The bathroom, covered with black and tan tile, has two separate vanity areas and a large shower with a curved wall, shower seat and two shower heads, one of them detachable.
Double doors open to a walk-in closet.
"This closet is twice the size of the bedroom I had as a child," Brylawski says.
Brylawski and Baker both work for Analyst International, a software consulting company. They grew up in Maryland and moved to sunny Florida in 1987.
The couple has built seven houses in their 22 years together, but believe this may be their last.
"This is so grand, but it's cozy, too," Baker says.