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Everything sought in a beachfront community

February 13, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The proximity to the water, as well as the many activities Fort Myers Beach has to offer, are among the reasons homebuyers choose the beachfront community.

Fort Myers Beach was not a location where homeowner Beth Ann Tuyls thought she would ever live - she always thought it was a spring break destination.

She later found out that the island offers ample opportunity for the arts. Tuyls said she has lived in very large towns and cities and has never quite experienced anything as special as Fort Myers Beach.

"Everywhere you go, you know someone," she said. "People are very welcoming


Although Tuyls still to this day does not know what drew her to the property, 290 Dundee Road, she believes it is an intuition type of thing.

"We weren't even looking," she said. "Something grabbed me to this property."

The home that sat on the property was torn down because it was flooded entirely.

Since Tuyls is an interior architect and her husband a remodeler, she wanted to create a place she would not be tired of in two years.

"You have to wake up and be excited about where you live," she said.

That inspiration came when they were cleaning up the home and came across a compass that was laying in pieces all over the ground.

"I found every last screw on the floor," she said, adding that it seemed like something special, so they decided to have it restored.

The original owner of the property was a ship builder, a gentleman who built the first speedboat in Miami, according to Tuyls. The compass was determined

to be 150 years old.

"The compass was Dutch, my husband is 100 percent Dutch," she said. "We both decided that was the starting point of the home as far as my inspiration."

The compass is located in the center of the living room and kitchen banister, which is a replica of the Hemingway home in Key West.

The style of the home is Key West meets Prairie style, because they both love the look of the homes in Key West and she is originally from the Midwest. She said she studied from Frank Lloyd Wright and she always tries to design things to be classic.

"So they never go out of style and stand the test of time," Tuyls said.

The home includes 14,000 stamped tin shingles on the roof, the only other such home in Lee County besides the Henry Ford Estate. She said each shingle was individually nailed, making it a very sturdy roof.

The home was built to be one of the strongest homes on the island structurally.

"We decided because we built the home a year after Hurricane Charley, the one thing that we wanted to be was self-sustaining," she said.

The home includes every hurricane standard imaginable hydrostatic vents, as well as blu wood. Tuyls said the vents help if water were to rise in the home.

"It allows the water to flow through the house in the lower level," she said.

The blu wood is a non-toxic material that is anti-termite and does not absorb moisture, so there is no mold in the home.

When the house was built they decided not to build directly on the bay because it is the first thing the storm is going to hit if coming from that direction, meaning nothing would protect them from water or wind.

To be self-sustaining, they incorporated a 30,000-kilowatt generator on the roof of the home and buried a gas tank outside that can run everything in the event of a storm. She said it is a very safe home, one she feels can withstand a Category Three storm.

The home is designed by Tuyls and custom made by her uncle who lives in Wisconsin and has been in the wood working business for 40 years

"Everything in here is custom from the baseboards to the casings to the banisters in the stairs," she said.

The home incorporates an open concept plan because she loves light, a lot of glass and open space.

"It is definitely designed to be an entertaining family home," she said. "We love to go anywhere from a beautiful gala to coming home in shorts and full of sand. The house has a feel to both, rise to the occasion and feel comfortable and put your feet up and relax."

There is a great deal of detail throughout the house. Since her husband is an avid fisherman, there is one-of-a-kind artwork in the kitchen and bar area of fish.

"Every place you look, we sought out every single space and spot," Tuyls said.

Each one of the bedrooms has a balcony, which utilizes cable rail, so a full water view can be seen.

The master bath is a very special room in the house because the owners wanted to design a room that felt as though you were going to the spa.

"It is very simple and clean, not fussy," she said.

There also is a widow walk from the master bedroom with a spiral staircase that goes to the roof. She said they realized at 40 feet, they had a 360-degree view of water in every direction.

"That's how we determined the height of the house," she said, which is three floors.

The home also includes an elevator and a "man cave" downstairs.

The outdoors also includes a salt water pool, with a stone water line, that includes all natural stone to appear as if it is a part of its surroundings.

There is also a big boat dock out back with a beautiful boathouse.

The landscaping was planted with a systematic approach for privacy on both sides of the home. The lush landscaping also is planted according to views from the windows of the house.

Unfortunately, now that their daughter is going away to school, the house is too big for them.

"It took my husband a year to convince me to move," she said. "It's a big house for two people."

Grace Greaves, who stumbled upon Fort Myers Beach and her home at 5580 Williams Drive, enjoys the area because it offers the best of both worlds.

"A short bike ride or walk across the street to the miles and miles of white sandy beaches and first-hand views of the Back Bay activity right from the pool deck and docks," is what she enjoys of the beach.

Greaves and her husband also enjoy the fact that they are only 40 minutes away from the airport while Fort Myers Beach offers restaurants, grocery shopping, a movie theater, a pharmacy and medical clinic.

"We have a small-time island feel with all the amenities," she said.

The home offers a large master suite with a Jacuzzi tub, huge double showers, separate vanity and sink areas and two master closets. There is also an automated sliding glass door that takes you out into the large pool deck.

The Back Bay can be viewed from the large living and dining areas of the home. The two areas also offer views of the pool deck that surrounds the living and dining area, which features a multi-level pool, heated Jacuzzi, pool bar with built-in gas grill, sink, refrigerator and granite counter area. The pool also has a built-in bar and stools.

An open foyer and stairway leads to the upstairs that features two bedrooms with access to upper balconies that overlook the Back Bay and beautiful sunrises.

The property also offers a lot of privacy for the homeowner. Greaves said the gate and security system allows privacy, as well as the ability for the homeowner to see who is accessing the property before they enter. Various angles can be seen of the home either by a cell phone or the Internet.

The home also has a lighted dock area with a water station to clean the boat and dock while it is in its boat slip. Greaves said the boat dock and slip is set up for walk around access of the boat while it is its lift.

There is also extra viewing on the dock area in front of the home to offer top views of the boat and sea life. A new seawall was installed with extra-large rocks for protection of the cement seawall.

Brick pavers adorn the entire parking area, as well as walkway areas around

the house.



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