A reverse floor plan fuses this Sanibel home with stunning views of the island’s nature sanctuary
House Wide Open
Ahouse on an island with breathtaking views of soothing blue water and calming green landscapes is a dream home for many. It was for Ken Gill and Karen DeWitt. The couple was searching for a beach house back in 2015 when Realtor Valerie Tutor showed them the 9,000-square-foot spec home in The Sanctuary at Wulfert Point, a coveted neighborhood tucked on the west end of Sanibel Island.
“Every house I ever bought, I made the decision at the entrance,” says Gill. “Looking in, the initial vista is really cool. Up the stairs to the second-floor living space, you have front and back vistas—east to the bay and west to the fairways—with decks on both sides.” It was the ideal home for entertaining, and he was sold.
The couple bought the two-level home, with five bedrooms and six baths built by Helenbrook Homes, for $2.6 million and happily took on the task of making a spec home, their home. Gill, who had a successful career in the food service and equipment industry, was no stranger to design and construction. An entrepreneur, he opened and ran a successful multilocation restaurant and started one of the food service industry’s leading equipment dealerships.
Gill called in Jay Jenkins of the interior design firm Jenkins Baer Associates based in Baltimore and the builder David Helenbrook; together they turned their focus to the house’s reverse floor plan, which offered wonderful design opportunities. The house’s lower level was comprised of four guest suites and a morning kitchen, while the upper level had all the living space, plus the master bedroom with a closet and bath, and served as the perfect vantage point for taking in the surrounding views. “We live on one floor,” adds Gill.
To enhance the living space, they removed a banquette that served as a wall and turned the kitchen-and-
“Every house I ever bought, I made the decision at the entrance. Looking in, the initial vista is really cool.” — Homeowner Ken Gill
dining area into an airy open space. Then a long handsome entertainment bar, custom made of wood by Clive Christian, a furniture company in England known for its 300-year-old cabinetry building, was installed to create a welcoming spot where guests could easily mingle and the couple could entertain seamlessly.
Another outstanding element in the home’s design was the woodwork, evident in both the ceilings and cabinetry. The living room’s ceiling, a blend of wood and skylights, created a feeling of being outdoors, and the master suite boasted an entire wood ceiling married to French doors that gracefully opened to a balcony and framed the inky waters and mangroves in the distance.
Next Gill and DeWitt wanted more windows so they could utilize natural light and showcase at every turn the gorgeous panorama—the shimmering pool, the golf course’s lush third fairway, and the keys dotting the bay beyond. When they finished adding the enhancements that cost about $500,000, they had created a home that Tutor describes as: “There’s no other house like it on Sanibel.”
The realtor admits that The Sanctuary neighborhood is for a specific buyer. “You can’t put a boat in your backyard, and you can’t step out your door and be on the beach,” Tutor said. However, she pointed out that these homes have the same appeal as the luxurious homes found in Naples, but in an unhurried, laid-back setting. Plus they are surrounded by an abundance of nature, which is revered and well preserved on Sanibel.
Gill and DeWitt never lost sight of their dream beach house though, and while visiting friends on Captiva Island they found property that offers both beach and bay views—something too good to pass up. “I am from Annapolis, Maryland, and spent years with a dock and boat in my backyard,” explains Gill, who is excited about once again having such access to the water. In fact, he admits that he’s already gone to the boat show and picked out a beautiful boat. As for their recently purchased house on Captiva, Gill says that it needs work and Jenkins is on it. As for his Sanibel home, he told Tutor that he wishes he could build the exact same house on Captiva.
For more information on the Sanibel home, which is listed at $3,195,000, contact Valerie Tutor at yoursanibelhomes.com.
Next Gill and DeWitt wanted more windows so they could utilize natural light and showcase at every turn the gorgeous panorama—the shimmering pool, the golf course’s lush third fairway, and the keys dotting the bay beyond.
A welcoming five-bedroom home in The Sanctuar y at Wulfert Point on Sanibel Island, this property blends luxur y with nature, utilizing the landscaping to frame the house.
Clockwise from top left: The second level’s outdoor area offers a view of the fairway; the master suite has remote-controlled draperies; the wine closet is a bonus feature; the reverse floor plan positions all the living space on the upper level; the custom-made bar is ideal for entertaining.
From top: Scenic views are enjoyed from ever y angle of the house; the lower-level guest suites open to the pool area; The Sanctuar y community’s surrounding water, mangroves and golf course.