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Your own beach on Summerland Key

"When we were shown this house I liked the open plan and the hardwood floors,” says Claudia Gukeisen of Summerland Key in the Florida Keys, “but as soon as I stood on the porch and saw the dock, beach and ocean before me I knew this was my house.”

This five-bedroom home in the Florida Keys has a 300-foot dock with a boat lift and a free-form swimming pool ansd spa.

After extending their “let’s live for a year on the beach” to 12 years, Claudia and Rob Gukeisen have moved back to Chappaqua, N.Y., to be near family and to allow Rob, now 48, to re-enter the computer technology industry. (He co-founded the online movie ticketing firm Moviefone, then sold it to AOL in 1999.)

The Gukeisens’ Key West-style, five-bedroom, four-bath home on a 0.42-acre open water lot with a swimming pool, spa, a private sandy beach and a 300-foot dock with a 25,000-pound boat lift, is on the market for $2,195,000. Built in 1956, the fisherman’s cottage was remodeled and expanded to 3,125 square feet in 1982 and 2005.

The circular brick paver driveway winds through tropical foliage from the gated entry to the front porch. Inside, left of the foyer and central hall, are two bedrooms and two full baths. One opens to the wraparound waterfront deck and porch. Across the central hall, the garden-side formal dining room adjoins the gourmet kitchen, which is lined with natural wood cabinetry, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

The central island, which has a ceramic cooktop, contains storage below. Glass-fronted cabinets separate the kitchen from the hall that leads into the great room, where French doors open to the porch and decks. The Gukeisens found the side deck just outside the kitchen a perfect place for their grill.

“It’s a great house for entertaining,” says Claudia, a 50-year-old former algebra teacher. I love the open plan — the way the dining room, kitchen and living room all flow together and then outdoors to the decks and waterfront. When I’m in the kitchen I always feel connected with what the family is doing [elsewhere inside or out]. I really like that.

“Most of the year we spend a lot of time in the living room, but in summer we live on the back porch,” she says. “From the porch, I can see everything — the kids in the swimming pool, snorkeling around the dock or my husband sailing [his 19-foot sailboat]. And the view of the open ocean is spectacular.”

Upstairs on the garden side are two bedrooms and a shared tiled bath. The waterfront wing, with its soaring cathedral ceiling, contains the master suite. Window seats, walk-in closets and the Travertine marble private bath are arranged around the rear of the room. French doors open to their private oceanfront balcony, a favorite breakfast spot.

Concrete paths connect the back porch with the lighted gazebo, an outdoor shower with hot and cold water, a free-form pool and spa, a private sandy beach (rare in the Keys) and a dock. The pool is both heated and chilled, “a delight on really hot, humid summer days,” Gukeisen says. “Of course, all the girls’ birthday parties were poolside.

“Our kids swim off our dock and learned to snorkel, sail and water-ski here and our guests often catch fish for our dinner,” she says. “We protect the lobster under our dock from fishermen. We eat lobster in restaurants, but never ‘ours.’ ”

The family keeps its 26-foot Glacier Bay catamaran with twin Yamaha 150-hp 4-stroke outboards on the 25,000-pound lift, reserving the other, smaller lift for personal watercraft.

“When I get into our boat I feel like I have the whole ocean to myself,” Gukeisen says. “We often cruised to Picnic Island, Looe Key [for snorkeling or diving on the reef] or Little Palm Island for a special dinner. The 50-minute cruise to Key West is a beautiful way to get down for a fun day there.”

The frame house has a metal roof, hurricane shutters, central heat and air conditioning (supplemented by individual units in each living space), two covered parking spaces, county water and a private septic system. Annual taxes are about $13,800.

When they’re not boating, the Gukeisens often biked the paved bike paths and lightly used roads in their neighborhood and on nearby Sugarloaf Key.

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For shopping and services, their property is just off U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway) about 5 miles west of Big Pine Key, 25 miles west of Marathon and 25 miles east of Key West. Summerland Key has a private airport.

“This house has such a good feeling. We’ve had lots of family fun all through the years,” she says. “Now it’s time for another family to make its own memories.”

Fred and Donna Mullins, cellphone (305) 304-5341,, of Schmitt Real Estate Co., Key West, (800) 598-7727, list the property.

July 2013 issue