This Family-Centric Port St. Lucie Home Was Modeled After The St. Lucie River And Time Spent On The Great Lakes

by Wendy Dwyer Apr 2016 Also on Digital Edition

The Woodard family of Port St. Lucie originally hails from the Great Lakes state—Michigan. Not only do four of the five Great Lakes touch shore in Michigan, but there are more than 11,000 inland lakes, which means that you’re never more than 6 miles from a body of water. This love of water and respect for nature had a lot to do with the design of the family’s Florida home, where the couple and their four children spend much of their time. Attracted to the Treasure Coast by the beautiful scenery and weather here, the entrepreneurial family chose to create a home that celebrates the importance of family, the magnificence of nature and the path to creating sustainable success in life.

The lanai that leads out to the pool.

The property sits on 9 acres and features four gazebos.

To make their 22,000-square-foot dream home a reality, the Woodwards turned to Ken Ringe and the crew at Bayview Construction Services in Stuart, which has provided award-winning, custom residential and commercial construction and renovations since 1978. Who better than the builder responsible for beloved landmarks like Sailfish Splash and the Courtyard Marriott to entrust with a landmark home on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River? Ringe says the home was an absolute joy to build. “At Bayview, we really do love to build,” he says, “and it was a pleasure building this home, which is at the forefront of technology for the Woodwards. There are lots of energy-saving features and things that make this home very special. There are also beautiful extras, like rounded copper gutters, cast stone made to suit the design, paver brick driveways, spectacular woods and stone floors that make it magnificent.”

Water truly is a source of energy for both the family and this exquisite estate home. Just as you’re never more than a few steps from the glorious sound and beauty of water in Michigan, guests and residents of the home are never far from water. So whether it’s waterfalls, pools, a hot tub, a 5,000-gallon goldfish pond, or the beauty of the St. Lucie River or the Atlantic Ocean, the source of life and inspiration is always close at hand. Even the pool was designed to easily convert to a water-volleyball court.

The theater room

That’s exactly what the family, which enjoys fishing, boating and more, had in mind when they planned the home. Beyond its capacity for fun and rejuvenation, the sound and power of water provide inspiration, and the Woodward residence has been designed with relaxation and inspiration to be integral parts. For Ringe and Gary Kelly, the well-known architect responsible for creating the home’s design, energy efficiency and long-term maintenance features were equally important. The home is a beautiful marriage of features that make it easy to relax in and nearly as easy to maintain.

The Florida residents of 10 years purchased 9 acres of land on Bay St. Lucie where there were two other homes already on site. Rather than demolishing perfectly good homes in the pursuit of their own dream residence, the Woodwards created their own piece of paradise in a new construction retaining the beachy, Key West flavor of the two homes already on the premises.

Guests arrive often because the Woodwards thoroughly enjoy sharing their enthusiasm, knowledge and encouragement to help others build the same kind of life. Property manager Mike Oppenheiser, who has known the owners for 20 years, describes the Woodwards as very family-oriented, and he says the feel of the home is welcoming, hospitable and very relaxed. “You feel so comfortable here that you want to relax, take your shoes off, and enjoy the comfort and hominess of it here,” he says.

The home incorporates many water features, including a pool spa, waterfalls, a hot tub and a 5,000-gallon goldfish pond.

Dining, Kitchen and game room

The marriage of family and nature, ease and efficiency, form and function are prevalent in the home, which features beautiful hickory wood throughout, and breathtaking stonework that harkens the feel of old Italy. The dark wood carries throughout the home in the flooring, trim and richness of hickory doors. Every inch of this home is designed to radiate a warmth and welcome, and the clear mission of the home is to relax, rejuvenate and be inspired.

Though breathtakingly beautiful with its mixture of wood, stone and marble, Oppenheiser laughs away the idea that it’s a kitchen designed only to be seen. “A lot of successful people seem to eat out all the time,” he says. “But something I really like about the Woodwards is that they really value the feeling of everyone gathered around the table—the family, friends, guests—and they cook and eat at home a lot. It’s not just a home that’s used at Thanksgiving and for holidays and vacations. Every inch of this home is used, enjoyed and thoroughly loved. … I think that’s what they had in mind when they designed the layout with Bayview and Kelly.” Ringe says designers Susan Morgan and Caron Kelly were also integral to ensuring that the award-winning home’s design was functional, fun and fabulous.

Owner’s suite and master bathroom.

Another noteworthy feature is the amount of indoor-outdoor space available in the home. There is a game room and office on the first floor, and expansive 30-foot hurricane-tough glass panels created to open to the outdoors, making this home as livable indoors as out. Ringe explains that the smooth transition from inside to the outdoors was designed to inspire and provide space for relaxation and appreciation of Florida’s climate and natural beauty. The master bedroom space on the second floor and another office on the third floor are both replete with the lovely grain of the natural wood. This wood is repeated on the home’s trim and the master bedroom balcony that overlooks the pool and the water. The open balcony, the gurgling sounds of the water and the ritual magnificence of the sunrise also provide the perfect place for regular Bible study and morning reflection.

Throughout the property, there are brick pathways, no fewer than four gazebos and sitting areas to encourage reading for both the family and their frequent guests. Because the property is veritably surrounded by water, Oppenheiser says these remote locations sprinkled throughout were the family’s idea to provide opportunities for reflection and dreaming. When the weather is not cooperating or the mood is more conducive to gathering together, there is a viewing room where the family retires to watch movies and—since they’re from Michigan, it should come as no surprise—hockey.

When they’re not enjoying the home, you’ll likely find the Woodwards out on the open water, where they enjoy fishing, boating and day trips on the couple’s 75-foot yacht. But when they come home, a breathtaking spiral staircase topped with a stained glass skylight that appears to lead nearly all the way to heaven, winds its way up through the heart of this family’s home, stopping along the way at a small bridge that overlooks the first floor living area and the welcoming front entrance. For the Woodwards, this home truly is where the heart is, and the heart is always welcoming, inspirational and ready to learn and grow.

For Ringe and Bayview, finishing a build like the Woodward home is bittersweet. “Every home is a living thing, and the human element of creating and completing each project is pretty awesome,” Ringe says. “A lot of hard work and love went into this build, and I consider the Woodwards friends. … The end result of the hard work is the satisfaction of knowing the owners are happy.”


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