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HOMEOWNERS — Bill and Karen Young

ACQUIRED — 1999

ARCHITECTURE — The mood of classic '20s-'30s Spanish-mission style

LOCATION — Marco Island, Florida

STYLE — "Mediterranean fantasy" with red tile roof and keystone balusters

PROPERTY — 350 feet of deep-water frontage on Collier Bay

LIVING SPACE — Main house, guest house, and lanais total 11,500 square feet

BEDROOMS — Master suite with his-and-her baths and four bedrooms with in-suite baths

HER FAVORITE AREA — Glassed-in marble shower and spa overlooking a private garden

HIS FAVORITE AREA — The "very comfortable" family room: "that's where we live most of the time"

HER FAVORITE PASTIMES — Photography, shopping, sunset walks with dog Louie

HIS FAVORITE PASTIMES — Motorcycling, boating, collecting cars

Kitchen

Living Room

Marco Island, Florida — A spiral staircase leads to a widow's walk where Bill and Karen Young can watch the sun rise over Collier Bay and, later, watch it set over the Gulf of Mexico. As far as they're concerned, this is paradise.

Bill and Karen are no strangers to Marco Island, a beautiful Southwest Florida community situated just south of Naples at the northernmost point of the picturesque Ten Thousand Islands. Back when they lived in Indianapolis, they owned a home here, a weekend retreat just a couple of hours away by plane.

"To get there," Bill explains, "we had to go through Collier Bay past the house we live in now. I saw it every time we went out in the boat. One day when I was out with a friend and saw the house, I said, 'I love that home.' 'It's for sale,' he said. "I knew it had been built for Country-and-Western singer Alan Jackson and his wife, but I didn't know it was for sale.

"My friend went on to tell me that Jackson and his wife hadn't used it much, maybe thirty days total, because Jackson's schedule was too busy and he wasn't pleased with the game fishing here. 'I think I'd like to look at that house,' I said. The minute we walked through, we said, 'We're going to buy it.'"


The master suite, with its 16' coffered ceilings, exudes relaxing grandeur. Shop Bed & Bath.

Both Bill and Karen loved the home's openness. As soon as they stepped inside, soaring ceilings and sliding glass walls gave unimpeded views everywhere they looked. "We could see water from every room. There's no place that you're not looking onto this big bay. The views are breathtaking."

The furnishings came with the house, and Bill and Karen liked it that way. "What's here was better suited to the place than anything we would have brought from our other house," they say. "Jackson and his wife left everything behind, took their boat, and moved out. We brought our clothes and moved in."

At first, they decided to hang on to their home in Indianapolis. But after going back there only ten days in two years' time, they finally decided to sell it.

HOME HIGHLIGHTS

Built on two tip lots at the end of a cul-de-sac with a canal running along either side, Bill and Karen's home is perfectly situated to take advantage of cooling breezes and stunning vistas. Floor-to-ceiling mitered glass panels in the breakfast area and second-floor sitting area provide seamless, sweeping views of the water. Sliding glass walls in the living room and family room open onto the lanai, which overlooks the pool. (Every room on the water has its own lanai.)

The pool, a six-foot-wide, six-foot-deep stream meandering the full length of the house, is fed by a spa just outside the master bedroom. Balustrades add a touch of luxury to the keystone pool deck, and a bridge spanning the pool leads to the boat dock.

"I got everybody involved in the planning phase... You can never plan too thoroughly."

Bill and Karen's home exudes an air of gracious elegance. From the porte-cochere, mahogany front doors open onto perfectly proportioned interior spaces. Saturnia marble floors are inlaid with slate and tumbled marble. Stepped and coffered ceilings are detailed with crown mouldings and faux finishes, while pecky cypress on kitchen and family room ceilings defines more casual areas.

Equipped with custom maple cabinetry, granite counters, commercial-grade appliances, and a sunny breakfast nook, the kitchen is both cheerful and efficient.

The master suite, accessed via marbled foyer, has sixteen-foot coffered ceilings, an adjoining office with private terrace, and his-and-her baths with marble vanities. Karen's two-person spa and walk-in marble shower overlook an enclosed garden, where a gurgling wall fountain and exotic flowers create a soothing oasis.

It comes as no surprise that the audio/visual equipment in the second-floor media room is absolutely state of the art: a Sony digital Satellite System and Macintosh THX Theater System. "Even though we have four DVD players," says Bill, "the media room is where we watch all our movies. It's quiet there, and the sound is so good." He and Karen are thoroughly pleased with the home's artistry. "You get to know a house after living there for a little while. I have yet to find anything that wasn't done the way it should be. The quality is as good as it gets."

A BOATING ISLAND

"There are more boats here than cars," Bill explains. "That's why I'm here. I've always had a boat from the time I was twenty." At present, his flotilla consists of two wave runners and two Cobalt boats, but there's always room for more: the Young's dock wraps almost the entire 350 feet of deep-water frontage. "The 36-foot Express Cruiser is a quick, large boat we use to go to Naples or Ft. Meyers for lunch," says Bill. "From time to time, we take it to Key West about 90 miles south of Marco. The 23-foot runabout we use when we just want to take a little run to watch the sun set or take our Wheaton terrier out to Coconut Island."

Located in the Gulf of Mexico, the island is just a quick trip across the bay. "Over there, he's free to run and play in the sand and splash in the water. He loves to boat." Bill keeps three motorcycles on hand, too, "so when I have a friend down, I've got something for them to ride. I'm a Harley-Davidson sort of guy."

Collecting classic automobiles is another interest he's developed since retiring to Florida. At present, he owns a Porsche Cabriolet, Ferrari 355 Spider, Bentley Continental T, and '33 Ford roadster built on a late-model Corvette chassis. "You spend a lot more money when you're not working and you've got more time on your hands," he notes wryly.

"We can see water from every room, there's no place that you're not looking onto this big bay. The views are breathtaking."

PARADISE REGAINED

The only drawback to living here on Marco Island seems to be the difficulty of maintaining a respectable lawn. Simply put, says Bill, "The grass is awful. It's all crabgrass."

His solution? "I tore out the lawn and put in Sprint Turf. I read about it and had them send me a sample. I liked it. It's rubber backed and rubber weighted to hold it down, which gives it a lot of cushioning. They use it in stadiums to protect athletes — and it always stays the same height.

"People stop and get out of the car and come touch it to see if it's real. They can't believe our lawn is so green! And no spots caused by bugs or worms. I just blow off any leaves that happen to land onto it. No water, no fertilizer, and it's impregnated with color so it won't fade."

Bill claims he never was much of a gardener. Luckily, the place is lush with pygmy palms, coconut palms, canary palms, and bougainvillea that require nothing more than an annual or semi-annual pruning. He does enjoy doing maintenance jobs around the house, though, tinkering with whatever needs fixing.


"We can see water from every room," Bill says. "There's no place that you're not looking onto this big bay. The views are breathtaking." Shop Outdoor Living.

Karen delights in poking around all the shops and boutiques in the area. A portrait photographer by profession, she now directs her creative energy into assembling photo albums. Each one documents the year's activities in pictures and captions "so we can go back and see where we were and what we were doing." She also enjoys the simple pleasure of taking Louie for a walk at day's end.

Though Bill and Karen throw a couple of large parties each year and usually welcome "a big crowd" for Thanksgiving, their style of entertaining is always easygoing — as is their everyday life.

Self-described homebodies, the Youngs are perfectly content here, each working out with a trainer three times a week to make sure they stay healthy enough to enjoy their good fortune.

"Wonderful weather, beautiful views, peaceful atmosphere — we wouldn't trade this for anything," says Bill. "I don't know where we could go that we would be as happy."

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