‘Serial renovators’ find a new passion in creating new homes
Lisa and Steve Knoop have put their 5,000-square-foot waterside home with detached one-bedroom cabana on the market for $4,695,000 through Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker. The reason is one they did not envision when they began work with architect John Potvin and Murray Homes to complete their ideal family home in 2015. They enjoyed the creative process and collaboration so much, they’re eager to do it again — that’s right, architectural design, construction, interior design.
Furnishing the place with vintage pinball machines, reclaimed metal buckets worked into hanging light fixtures and old plumbing pipes transformed into the door handles on the refrigerator just made the project that much more fun and resulted in a home that is unique, but has wide-ranging appeal.
“We’ve become serial renovators,” said Lisa Knoop. “It surprised me at first, but I’ve accepted it.”
She was definitely the leader of this whole-house Harbor Acres project. The environmental lawyer and mother of two daughters said she discovered her artistic sensibility and confidence with this house and thoroughly enjoyed every challenge. The couple did a whole house remodel of their former home on Bird Key, where they lived for five years before buying a lot in Harbor Acres. A 1950s home had already been torn down when they saw the land. It was a blank canvas and off they went.
What most people might consider a long nightmare of decisions, delays, rethinking decisions, remorse, miscommunication and all the usual highs and lows of construction that keep family life in turmoil, all that was pretty much a delightful adventure to the Knoops — well, at least to Lisa. Everyone else went along for the ride although Steve Knoop did have his mandates for what should be in their modern two-story coastal farmhouse with vintage touches.
“I wanted access to open water by boat,” he said, “and I wanted a dock and boat lift. I wanted a comfortable house with privacy and an easy floor plan with a natural flow between inside and outside. I wanted to pick out my own grill. Lisa and I have the same tastes in furniture so I was fine with what she chose, but I wanted places for my pinball and carnival games machines, which are in working order. I added to the amenities with a whole-house generator and a place in the garage to recharge an electric car.”
Also a lawyer by education, Steve Knoop now manages companies and can live anywhere in the United States. It was that flexibility which made it possible for the four Knoops to move to Florida in 2008 from Cleveland, where they renovated a home. Their family move was all about the two daughters, now college age.
“Our girls are both competitive figure skaters,” said Lisa Knoop. “The Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex has one of the best pairs coaches anywhere and the girls wanted to work with him. So we moved to this part of Florida for ice skating of all things. There are about four places in the country we could have chosen, but my parents lived here and the weather in Florida looked pretty good from Cleveland so we were happy to relocate full time.”
The family bought a place on Anna Maria Island and have kept it through the renovations of their Bird Key home and when they built their present home. And therein lies the biggest secret to success when building or remodeling — live someplace else while chaos prevails.
“Originally when John Potvin and I sat down to do the architectural plan, the house was supposed to be about 3,000 square feet,” said Lisa Knoop. “But then, we kept adding features including the cabana and a second floor that the girls wanted for their bedrooms and study-lounge space. The dining room had to be made wider because our table is a polished concrete ping pong table, which is wider than a traditional dining table. When we have guests or want to use the dining room for family, we just take down the net.”
Lisa wanted a laundry chute, a cozy breakfast nook, a big laundry room with special-features machines that could help her maintain skating practice clothes and glamorous sparkly costumes. “I launder a lot of Spandex and sequins,” said Lisa.
A walk-in pantry was a must and also a large white kitchen that merges with a gathering room that flows out onto a big private back porch that is set up for family dining and relaxation. She and the architect added a spacious outdoor shower room and a fire pit made of the same smooth rounded stones used for the huge gas fireplace that is the centerpiece of the living room. Then came the guest suite loft above the garage.
“John Potvin got on a 12-foot ladder outside and configured the house, cabana, pool, patio and porch from that vantage point so he could arrange the structures so that we would have the maximum privacy and maximum water views,” said Lisa. “When we are outside in the back we do not see other houses except those far across the water.”
The five bedroom house (on a cul-de-sac on a pretty street) has a pitched gable metal roof and Hardi Plank exterior siding for minimal maintenance. The main house is painted the palest shell pink, the cabana a whisper-soft green. The floors are a combination of polished gray concrete and reclaimed heart pine. Some of the rooms have beamed 12-foot ceilings to reinforce the cottage look of the home.
The kitchen is up-to-the minute modern but has vintage touches for charm. Cabinet pulls are old faucet knobs. The counters are soapstone and were custom made in Port Charlotte. A cozy banquette was made by a local craftsman and in addition to large center soapstone island there’s a special baker’s marble-topped workspace custom made for the Knoop’s oldest daughter, who is an expert baker. It’s painted hot pink and matches the modern chairs that pull up to the breakfast bar.
Atop the range hood is a mantel made from wood that came from the long-gone John Ringling Towers and was sourced by Lisa at Sarasota Architectural Salvage. A 48-inch duel-fuel Wolf range with full griddle means the kitchen can easily accommodate more than one cook.
Throughout the home are games and toys that reflect the hobbies and personalities of the family. “We are a hugely competitive bunch,” admitted Lisa, “and our girls are positively pros at pinball. We started when the girls were young with board games, cards, puzzles and then advanced. We’ve always loved spending time together that way.”
Some of the pinball machines and carnival games such as fortune teller and test-your-strength are valuable as collectors items but they get used just the same.
For their next renovation project, the Knoops have identified a house in their neighborhood that needs a complete remodel. “We don’t want to leave this part of town, it’s so convenient to Southside Village and lovely,” she said. “And now that the serial renovators have a new project and we have John Potvin and Steve Murray on board, we don’t have to.”