Generally ask a person about building their own home and the word “nightmare” comes out. For Alan and Linda Sandlin of Marco Island, however, the word is “dream.”
“Most people who build their homes talk about what a trial it was; what a trauma,” muses Alan Sandlin. But he says he and his his wife, Linda, enjoyed the 18-month process of designing and constructing their home. “We just had so much fun…. Every week brought a new idea, a new innovation, a new way to solve a problem.”
Even before the process began, their first challenge was finding a place to build, because the selection of available lots on Marco is diminishing. The Sandlins, however, were able to use their resources as Realtors to scout the ideal location.
“We wanted to be within walking distance of the beach,” explains Alan, “and we also wanted easy boating access to the Gulf at the north end of Marco.”
A tip lot, just off Kendall Drive, almost on Collier Bay, met those criteria. The site had space for extras like a wrap-around dock that houses a sport fishing boat and two kayaks, the couple’s favorite outdoors entertainment.
“We have the best of all possible worlds,” Linda says..
The Sandlins grew up in the Midwest and attended Indiana University, where she majored in music and he in business. He worked his way through college singing and strumming his guitar, and that’s how the couple met. They were married shortly after graduation, moving to Sarasota for 10 years. Alan continued in the entertainment world and Linda sang in musicals and the occasional USO show.
“My business background sort of went to sleep for a while,” says Alan with a laugh. They came to Marco in 1982, where Alan landed a long stint at Quinn’s on the Beach.
Eventually, in a bit of role reversal, Linda —the music major — moved into real estate while Alan — the business major — continued with his musical career. After some time on her own, Linda asked her husband to join her as a real estate team, much to the dismay of his fans at Quinn’s.
When the Sandlins decided to build a new home, they worked closely with an architect and the builders at RCE to come up with a unique approach.
“We call it a mix of French provincial and Mediterranean,” Linda explains. “The interior is almost exclusively done in tones of taupe, with occasional accents of green and rose.”
The floors are all of gleaming off-white tile, but the construction above and the views out are the eye-catchers. In the main living space, the ceilings are 16 feet up, and to accent the space, the tray ceilings and crown moldings were finished in deeper shades than the walls, creating an effect that doesn’t overshadow the rooms.
Upstairs, ceilings are 9 feet high. To show off its water view, bedroom windows are full-length lanai doors; even the shower is flooded with outdoor light. The upstairs views are of a landscaped lanai, with urns of colorful plantings, and a clear, blue pool. The house often seems made of windows, awash in light with an airy atmosphere throughout.
Arches are everywhere — above the entry, in the foyer, leading into the dining room and atop the exits to the lanai. The two guest rooms have private baths and share a sitting room. Recessed spots direct indoor lighting strategically, adding to the atmosphere.
Step through the handsome front doorway, with its mullioned windows, and you’re in the living room, largely furnished with Euro-style sofas and chairs and signaling the pale taupe palette the repeats through the rest of the house. In one corner stands a grand piano, a gift to Linda from her family for mastering a number of difficult Beethoven pieces.
“It once belonged to the CBS studio in Chicago,” she explains, and laughs at the oversized stuffed gorilla seated on its bench. Throughout the home are mementos of foreign trips, family photographs and antiques.
To the left of the foyer is a his-and-hers home office where the green details figure into granite desktops. To the rear is the master bedroom, all in taupe, with a tapestry acquired on a trip to Germany, hanging over the bed. Linda’s brother Steve is an artist, and some of his watercolors are there.
The oversized master bath features a large Roman tub of Jerusalem stone, with a wide double shower behind and a privacy garden beyond.
On the far side of the entry is the large dining room with bleached mahogany furnishings, including a breakfront and a table for eight. French and Japanese tapestries, also acquired on travels, adorn the walls.
The kitchen is designed for serious cooking, with a functional island and abundant work space. Its maple cabinetry has countertops of Santa Cecilia granite, offset with rose- and ruby-colored garnet chips. The random height of the cabinets provides space for plants and sculptures.
Next to the kitchen is an informal dining area, with chairs upholstered in a monkey-patterned fabric.
Peeking around one corner, ready to munch into a silk ficus, is a tall, rosewood giraffe.
Nearby is another sculpture of a mother and baby elephant, all brought home from Africa.
Further right is an oversized family room, with a small game table and a standard pool table.
“We have a plywood top for that,” Linda explains. “so we can play ping-pong or use it for serving buffets.”
Above the massive entertainment center is a collection of pottery, mostly Native American, and on one table is a scale model of a Newfoundland fishing dory.
Behind the house is a full-width lanai, featuring an infinity pool with a vanishing edge, a spa and two waterfalls. Edged in gray and black tiles, the pool creates a forest-like setting, with trees and shrubs positioned all around.
“We can open our bedroom at night,” observes Linda, “and fall asleep to the sound of the waterfalls.”
* Year built: 1999
* Address: Marco Island
* Size: 4,400 square feet