Florida Keys harbor dream home
The 2008 HGTV Dream Home is in The Shore at Islamorada, Fla.
In the dining room of the HGTV Dream Home, a lantern lights the table instead of the usual chandelier.
The Florida media room.
The master bedroom
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ISLAMORADA, Fla. -- Right about now, Atlantic Ocean breezes, sport fishing and owning a secluded three-bedroom house in the upper Florida Keys sounds like a dream come true.
Banking on that tropical allure, the producers of House & Garden Television are offering the chance to win such a hideaway free -- in HGTV's 12th annual Dream Home Sweepstakes.
From now through 6 p.m. Feb. 19, you can enter once a day online at www.hgtv.com. The HGTV design team will surprise the winners live on TV at 9 p.m. March 16.
The grand prize, of course, is this island house on one of the upper keys near the tip of the Florida peninsula. It comes fully furnished and landscaped, and with a 2008 GMC Yukon hybrid, for a total value of more than $2.2 million.
"This is one of the most incredible Dream Homes yet," said HGTV planner Jack Thomasson. "It's right in the middle of the keys, close to the hot beaches and cool scenes of Miami and eclectic Key West, with all of the tropical dream features you would expect in a Dream Home."
For more information on the 2008 HGTV Dream Home, a virtual tour or to enter online, go to Dream Home Central at www.hgtv.com. To enter by mail, hand-print your name, address and phone number on a postcard or piece and mail to: HGTV Dream Home Giveaway, P.O. Box 51248, Knoxville, TN 37950. There is no limit on mailed entries but each must be sent separately and postmarked by Feb. 19.
Islamorada in Spanish means "island mansion" and is pronounced "EYElamorawda." It is a 7.2-square mile cluster of "purple isles" named for the region's violet sea snails. U.S. Highway 1 connects the dots as they stretch necklace-like for 20 miles. Thirty square miles of shallow waters and smaller islands lure anglers. This "sport fishing capital of the world" offers tarpon, redfish, trout, snapper and snook. In deeper water, marlin, sailfish, shark and dolphin abound. The island is also an artists' retreat and a laid-back Jimmy Buffett-style gathering place.
"The Albright" is the first completed home of eight projected for The Shore, an upscale enclave of harmonious dwellings south of Founders Park on the coral-formed islet. The houses, named for famous fishing guides, will rise in a semicircle at the end of a private lane. The houses are planned around a grassy lawn leading to a large communal swimming pool that will not intrude on the white sand beach. It is 275 feet long with future private boat slips projecting into the turquoise waters.
Architect Rick Wissmach and local builder Juan Dellanos sought fresh but indigenous designs with some of the charming features of Old Florida, among them the front-balconied houses of Key West. Features that Mr. Wissmach chose include upper decks for indoor-outdoor living, hideaways like a fishing room, and an outdoor cascade shower for rinsing off after time on or in the water. Landscape architect Richard P. Brown, formerly of Washington, Pa., graced the property with tall coconut palms and colorful tropical shrubbery too delicate for mainland temperatures. He is a principal with Brown & Crebbin Design Studio, Plantation Key,
The Albright is three stories tall with a traditional metal-ribbed roof for endurance against the elements. The main area, or great room, on the second floor combines living and dining spaces with an open kitchen offering an extra-large stainless steel sink and stove and a tall faucet for filling pots of fish or lobsters. Colorful furniture and frond-patterned pillows easily join marine artwork on the walls while the coffee table is a recycled group of wicker-joined pigeon cages. There is a wall-mounted high definition television here and in the game room.
The house's white-painted wooden staircase begins outside. It climbs from a wide, uncovered front brick patio that runs the width of the house and features a table and chairs for dining al fresco. At the third floor, a multi-windowed stair tower with wide roof overhang recalls the look of 19th-century American Italianate villas.
Mr. Dellanos, 38, who recently started his construction business on Tavernier Key, oversaw the house's completion. Building began May 26 and the last nail was driven Sept. 18, a day before HGTV's deadline. The contest is sponsored by 15 national businesses ranging from General Motors to paint company Sherwin-Williams and HGTV, which is owned by E.W. Scripps Co.
The house's structure consists of undercoated and painted concrete block set with steel reinforcing bars, the best known protection against hurricanes and storms. Upper rooms have a painted wood exterior and trussed floors for added strength.
Concrete or steel piers or stilts support many beach houses. But Mr. Wissmarch, The Shore president Ned Johnson and vice president Michael Uhre decided to finish the ground floor for optimum owner use. The comfortable game room is main first floor space. It holds large movable wicker chairs with cushions rather than a sofa so the room can have more uses. The coffee table comes apart in four units and the reed rug can be rolled up for dancing on the wood floor.
The house stands 300 feet from the shore at a 6-foot elevation, high for the Keys, Mr. Dellanos said. French doors let in tropical light and would be useful in releasing any water from a high tidal surge. A boy's bedroom and integral single garage are on this level. Electricity cools and heats the house and there is a gas tankless water heater.
Near a small foyer painted strong coral and the inner garage door is the fishing room. This nook has a built-in desk, a chair and a squadron of 14 fishing rods in open racks. Each is covered in purple fabric, defining the room's use while adding an element of surprise to the island atmosphere.
First Published January 5, 2008 12:00 am