Courtyard home makes the most of outdoor living

Jill Landes and Lewis Strauss, who wrote and produced for “60 Minutes” and CNN, chose Vero Beach as their retirement spot after discovering its charms while visiting friends, picking Indian River Club to settle in. They are now selling their courtyard home at 964 Carolina Circle SW, in the popular golfing community, but plan to stay in the neighborhood, having a large social network they love.

Indian River Club is known for its Audubon Signature Sanctuary golf course, a combination of wildlife refuge and cultivated nature, which attracted Strauss, the golfer in the family. “I run the Friday golf club, which is about 40 guys,” he said.

Landes teaches fifth-grade reading twice a week at Indian River Academy elementary school nearby, one of 75 volunteers who have adopted the school, which is the main focus of Head Heart and Hands, Indian River Club’s community-outreach organization.

They also partake of water aerobics, cards, mahjong, movie and book clubs, the “Let’s Eat Out” club and art outings. “It’s a very social community,” Strauss said. “If you’re new, they make sure you get integrated quickly.”

“Or not,” Landes said. “You don’t have to. But it’s there if you want it.”

What attracted them to their courtyard home was its openness and versatility.

There are no windows facing the street, making the house feel set apart from the world. With the courtyard design, the front louvered doors leads not to the home’s interior but into an enchanting screened area that includes a pool, plantings and a covered porch.

The couple recently redid the pool skirt, replacing the concrete with taupe pavers in a basket-weave design that matches the driveway they replaced a few years earlier.

The house forms a “C” around the courtyard, the interfacing sliding-glass doors opening the house to the outdoors.

The back of the house, corresponding to the top of the C, faces the 11th fairway of the private, Ron Garl-designed golf course, the back wall comprised of sliding glass doors opening onto a screened-in back porch, recently redone in travertine pavers in the French pattern.

“The house is wonderful for parties,” Landes said. “We entertained 30 people here. It’s one big continuous space.”

The open floor plan also means “you can reconfigure the rooms,” Landes said – dining, family and living rooms are interchangeable. The large ceramic tile consistent throughout the common rooms adds to the sense of openness.

The recently remodeled kitchen is at the center of the common rooms. The cabinets are in the Shaker style, painted white, with crown molding, the upper cabinets with glass fronts. The large composite sink is under-mounted, leaving a clean line that emphasizes the beauty of the granite counters. A breakfast bar is perfect for lingering over coffee or cocktails. The glass-block back splash complements the counters, picking out the scotch and gin colors.

The kitchen is a good command post. “I can be at the sink and watch television and the golf course,” Landes said.

The cabana bedroom and bath are in a separate building next to the pool, currently configured as an office with a double-bed fold-out couch. It too has a sliding glass door onto the courtyard that extends the living area outside.

The second guest room is near the front of the house, with a courtyard view. It also has its own bath.

The master bedroom suite is at the end of house, with a view of the golf course and the courtyard. The his-and-her bathrooms were recently renovated. They are interconnected by a large walk-in shower with two shower heads and frameless glass doors. Her side has a large soaking tub and makeup vanity. Both sides have walk-in closets.

After Landes broke her leg and Strauss had a hip replacement, they were grateful for the low thresholds and large doors throughout the house, particularly in the shower, which made recovery easier. “You never think about these things until they happen,” Landes said, “but I came here to recover, not our home up north.”

The garage has a side entrance and fits two cars, the floor recently redone in epoxy, looking very like a terrazzo floor. The inner door from the garage to the house leads to the laundry room, the large sink good for cleaning up golf shoes before going inside.

Besides the kitchen and master bathrooms, recent upgrades include a new roof, with solar panels installed to heat the pool. The pool surface was redone, as was the brick-paver skirt and driveway. The back covered golfer porch was redone in sumptuous travertine. The water heater is new and the house was painted inside and out about a year ago. The hurricane shutters are also new.

Vital Statistics

  • Address: 964 Carolina Circle SW
  • Neighborhood: Indian River Club
  • Year built: 2000 • Lot size: 60’ x 130’, .18 acres
  • Home size: 2,339 sq. ft. under air, courtyard and covered patio 1,200 sq. ft., back patio 250 sq. ft.
  • Construction: Concrete block with stucco
  • Bedrooms: 3 • Bathrooms: 4
  • Additional features: Golf-course views, courtyard design, cabana, master with his-and-her baths, new roof, pool with solar heating, screened back patio paved in travertine, granite counters, crown molding, recessed lighting throughout house, newly remodeled kitchen, open floor plan
  • Listing agency: Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
  • Listing agent: Beth Livers, 772-559-6958
  • Listing price: $435,000

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