The pool, designed with Aquatic Consultants from Miami, is lined with glass mosaic tile that mimics the saltwater beyond. The pool is surrounded by dwarf clusia, in oolite stone planters; bottle, triangle and coconut palms; monstera; and wart ferns. A pergola spans overhead, connecting the northern and southern wings of the home. (Courtesy DWY Landscpe Architects/Greg Wilson)

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First Impressions

More than a decade later, landscape architect David Young’s not-so-little touches on a treasured Little Gasparilla Island HOME Still wow.

After more than a decade, David Young’s lasting image of his project on Little Gasparilla Island is the scene he created on the private road leading to the property.

It’s not particularly easy to get to this part of Boca Grande. The Naples-born landscape architect knew that the Midwestern homeowners who commissioned the project would have to arrive at their beachside mansion via private charter, or fly into Sarasota airport, then drive an hour and a half down to their home on Little Gasparilla Island.

They would be tired, Young presumed. So he wanted them to feel embraced when they finally arrived.

Courtesy DWY Landscpe Architects/Greg Wilson

The barren, private gravel road that winds to all of the properties in this area is nothing special. But at one turn, an oasis magically appears in the distance. A dozen coconut palm trees stretch toward the sky, six on each side of the drive, their torsos leaning into the road as if they’re peeking down a long hallway, motioning for you to come close. “It looks like this respite. This spot where you want to get to—almost like a mirage,” Young says. “And once you do, you feel the spatial qualities and the tropical setting that those palm trees provide.”

It’s that welcoming, tropical vibe that Young and his design firm, DWY Landscape Architects, elicited throughout this unique property when they designed it in 2009. Following FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) regulations, the home is elevated. Its split-level upper floor, which comprise the main living spaces, appear as if it’s detached from the landscape, like a skybox.

Following FEMA requirements, the home is elevated, so the upper level functions as the main living areas. A spiral staircase—surrounded by air plants installed in the siding and potted tropical plants in Kornegay planters—leads to the pool deck, which is surrounded by a screened kitchen and dining area, sleeping porch, pool bath and shower and a great room with views out to the Gulf. (Courtesy DWY Landscpe Architects/Greg Wilson)

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