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RSW Living Magazine

POINT OF VIEW: It’s easy to get in your Blue Mind by living on the water

Mar 09, 2021 09:03PM ● By KATHY MONTGOMERY

Researchers have spent decades studying Blue Mind, the meditative state associated with being on or near the water that can create feelings of calm, peacefulness and general happiness.

Dave Veracka, who has waterfront homes in Fort Myers and on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, didn’t need decades to know the benefits of waterfront living.

Having his 40-foot boat on a dock outside his Fort Myers home—on a canal with access to the Caloosahatchee River—provided sanity during the pandemic’s safer-at-home order in early 2020. “We went out on the boat 52 of the 60 days we were here,” he notes.

The convenience of his 6,257-square-foot home, built by Frank Jenkins Custom Homes in Fort Myers’ Town & River community, allows Veracka and his wife, Charlyn, to go out on the boat at least two to three days a week. They often plan sunset cruises with friends.

When not cruising, they enjoy outdoor living with a pool and spa, an outdoor kitchen and dining area, multiple fire features, and a wall with 10-foot sliders that open to the view. The home was awarded “Best Outdoor Living” by the Lee Building Industry’s Parade of Homes. “It’s a wide-open, beautiful space,” Veracka says. “I also enjoy sitting on the dock and watching the boats go by, and talking to my neighbors. It’s fun.”

The Verackas moved to Fort Myers from Crystal River, in Citrus County, where they did not live on the water. But they knew the benefits of Blue Mind from their home on Cape Cod.

Veracka also knows what can happen when you don’t have waterfront property: “With waterfront, no one will ever build behind you. We had a house in Boston that looked out at the woods. Suddenly, we were looking at three houses. Living on the water, you’ll always know that’s the view you will have.”

It’s no wonder that Florida’s beaches, canals, lakes and rivers draw people to the state for waterfront living. Or that real estate data indicate a water view can add a more than 100 percent premium on property value.

Finding the right waterfront location is just as important as finding a house design that takes advantage of it. “It’s important to make sure the floor plan fits the lot, allowing enough room for ever-so-important outdoor areas and to capture as much of the views as possible from inside,” explains Frank Jenkins, owner of Frank Jenkins Custom Homes.

When a prominent commercial builder desired to create his dream home on a lot in the Iona neighborhood of Fort Myers, on the Caloosahatchee with water on two sides, Jenkins worked with Richard Guzman of R.G. Designs Inc. A plan was designed that allows each room to have a great view. Only the study, master bedroom closet, laundry room and home theater are without water views.

“The lot was large and allowed for opportunities for the design to be long and narrow, and gave us opportunity to create a view from each room,” Guzman says. “The great room was designed with a wide, expansive amount of glass. For the sliders, we pushed the envelope and they are larger than normal.”

The custom single-family residence encompasses 7,912 square feet of living space and a total of 12,051 square feet. It has six bedrooms, a study, five full baths and two half-baths, a children’s game room, a movie theater, separate guest suite and an elevator.

Clive Daniel Home’s interior designer Rebekah Errett-Pikosky worked with design partner Charlie Hansen on the home. She says the homeowner asked them to create plenty of areas for the blended family with seven children to gather, including second-floor balconies and clusters of outdoor seating. “There are lots of areas to hang out and enjoy the view,” she adds.

Jenkins, who started his own company in June of 2017 after working in custom home building in Southwest Florida for 26 years as a partner with another firm, takes care of many of the challenges of waterfront building. These include FEMA codes and elevations, Florida Building Code and community codes and restrictions.

Because of varying soil conditions in Southwest Florida, particularly along the water, every home Jenkins builds is specifically engineered to the site and the conditions, including considering saltwater impact on building materials. For a home he’s designing on Fort Myers Beach, added considerations must be made for sea turtle nesting and other coastal issues.

“From reviewing property surveys to placement that captures the best views while utilizing optimal space, our hands-on design process considers the whole picture,” Jenkins says.

What a beautiful picture it is for people able to live on the water.

For more than 30 years, Kathy Montgomery has been writing about Southwest Florida and the interesting people who live in the region.