Conventional wisdom holds that empty nesters don’t need as much space as they did when they were raising children, so it makes sense to downsize. But not everyone finds that to be the case.
When Richard and Jennifer Sands moved into a duplex condominium at the Seagate Residences in Delray Beach, Fla., in 2009, it didn’t take them long to feel short on space.
The couple had raised five children from previous relationships, and now those children were having children of their own — a total of eight grandchildren, so far. When they all assembled in Delray Beach for holidays and vacations, the Sandses found themselves struggling with where to put everyone.
So at the end of 2012, the couple bought a second 3,600-square-foot duplex in the same complex, for $3.7 million, primarily for the use of the children.
“We bought it and redecorated it, and really changed the interior quite substantially for the purpose of our family,” said Mr. Sands, 68, the executive vice chairman of Constellation Brands, a producer of beer, wine and spirits, who has numerous other business interests.
The vision, said Mr. Sands, who was ranked 275th on Forbes’s annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans in October, was “to have a place where we could all gather for holidays and other vacations.”
“Everybody wanted to be in Florida during the winter,” said Ms. Sands, 65.
Mr. Sands is a key player in the Seagate community. He and his family owned the old Seagate hotel, razed to make way for the condominium in 2006, and now own the relocated Seagate Hotel & Spa and its associated beach club, country club and yacht club.
For help redesigning the new unit, the Sandses knew whom to ask: the Brooklyn Home Company, a design and development firm run by their son and daughter, Bill Caleo and Lyndsay Caleo Karol, whose work they admired.
Not only did the siblings have an intimate understanding of their parents’ design preferences, but they would also be frequent users of the space.
When they first saw the unit, it looked nice enough, but “had the feeling of most condos — just sort of a blank space,” said Ms. Karol, 41, the creative director of the Brooklyn Home Company. (Mr. Caleo, 43, leads the business side of the firm.) “I really wanted to bring in a little warmth.”
Mr. Sands, a passionate woodworker, told them he wanted the unit to have an expansive kitchen and dining area where the family could cook and eat together. Ms. Sands requested that the scheme reflect the couple’s travels to places like Papua New Guinea, Thailand and the Amalfi Coast of Italy.
Ms. Karol designed the space with three large bedrooms and two bunk rooms containing six beds each — enough to sleep six adults and a dozen children at once.
On the upper level of the two-story building, she punched through the living room’s flat ceiling to look for additional space under the roof. “I got a ladder and poked a hole through the ceiling, and there was this beautiful raised space above the dropped ceiling,” she said.
So she demolished the dropped ceiling and added decorative rafters made from reclaimed barn timbers from Grand Wood, a company in Naples, N.Y., that Mr. Sands financed.
For more artistic wood touches, Ms. Karol recruited her husband, Fitzhugh Karol, 37, a sculptor and artist-in-residence at the Brooklyn Home Company, to carve shapely legs for an enormous kitchen island, decorative details for the fireplace surround, a sinuous handrail for the stairwell and a cabinet to contain jewelry collected during the Sandses’ travels.
Ms. Karol also designed three big, low-slung, slipcovered sofas on casters for the living room, stuffed with pillows to support lounge-y, relaxed living. They were manufactured by Icon Design, a furniture company Mr. Sands financed in Le Roy, N.Y.
With each sofa capable of seating numerous visitors, “it’s like one for each family,” Ms. Sands said, as the apartment can sleep three families at a time.
Mr. Sands also designed a dining table capable of seating the whole gang, using 18-foot-long, 19th-century barn beams with a whitewashed finish inspired by a trip to Greece, which Grand Wood made. “So lots of stuff in there is designed by Fitzhugh and Lyndsay,” he said, and “a little bit by myself.”
Construction on the renovation started at the end of 2013 and was completed in 2015, for a total cost of about $2.2 million.
Since then, the condo has proved so popular with their children and grandchildren, not to mention other family members, that the Sandses are facing a familiar problem: Once again, they are running out of room.
“We have big family get-togethers during the holidays, when our siblings and cousins all gather down here,” Ms. Sands said. “And now we’re just about out of space.”