The Sabato’s Family Tree Flourishes

The Sabato’s family tree finds daily nourishment in their home nestled amongst the trees and set just adjacent to their daughter’s home.



The simple, yet elegant and functional abode of George and Lori Sabato grew from a tiny seed of thought that George Sabato had sat on for a couple of decades. Being a true family man, he had a vision to live together with his extended family on the same property. “This place is the fulfillment of a dream,” George had said, “The only thing that could make it more perfect is if my other daughter and her family could be here as well.”

The garage suite has been christened with the name of “The Treehouse” by the Sabatos. It is surrounded by a canopy of trees that offers privacy and a natural beauty that surpassed the term “garage apartment.”

They find that downsizing suits them and while residing in a smaller space of 1400 square feet, they have discovered that they didn’t need the 2900 square feet of their former home after all. Lori says, “Here, when I have to clean, it’s done in an hour; in the old house, it would take all day.”



The home was designed to feel spacious and the screened in porch, high ceilings, and open living area all contribute to an airy feeling. The color scheme reminds you of a cool breeze as it incorporates all the blues and turquoises that typically grace a coastal landscape. The brick fireplace adds warmth to the cool tones of the color palette while keeping the living area toasty if a rare cool evening rolls around.

The most important part of the floor plan for Lori is the kitchen island. “Originally, we were going to do a small island with barstools and leave space for table and chairs, but it started to feel like too many chairs,” Lori says, “In the end we built a 4’ x 8’ island with six bar stools and it works perfectly for us. I love it because the kids can sit around it with us.”

They also have an outdoor dining table on their porch which is perfectly suited for those occasions when their extended family joins them for an evening meal.





For the Sabatos, well planned storage was the key to downsizing. The pantry off of the kitchen has racks and a work station on wheels for easy access and utility. A coffee bar sits to the right of the counter space with cabinet space and a wicker basket drawer. The closet is a favorite of both Lori and George and each of them have everything in their wardrobe organized impeccably.



Another challenge of downsizing can often be the lack of personal space. Lori has claimed the 250 square feet of screened in porch along with her hammock. However, George wrangled himself a 275 square foot area downstairs completely separate from the main living quarters. George laughs, “I have a refrigerator, sink, and hot and cold water. Lori said if I get a microwave, I may not have to come upstairs.”




The main feature of George’s man cave area is a 2000 Heritage Softail Harley Davidson. He has had motorcycles his entire life and rides his Harley often. The parking space of his prized possession is a prominent spot in his man cave where the bike sparkles as if it is polished daily.


He also has a 60-inch television connected to his computer monitor where he practices for his weekly poker games. Even though Lori usually leaves this space for George’s alone time, she often joins him to share some popcorn for a movie night in the jumbo reclining chairs.


Lori loves to read and spend time with her grandchildren. Both are accomplished easily by nestling down into the hammock with a good book. “Even if I am deep down into the hammock, the children will see the swinging motion and call up to me,” she says smiling. “The beauty of being so close to my grandchildren is I can have a long day with them or I can have a 15-minute interaction. In today’s world it’s often difficult to have a close relationship with your grandchildren. Our situation is priceless and I know that they will really remember us.”

The process of moving into a small place meant giving away most all of their previous furniture and most of their belongings. They both say they are happier living a simpler lifestyle. Although, one particular wall of the house was designed specifically to house a Hemingway Key West sideboard piece that she purchased just after they had lived in Key West. “It was a piece I loved and I wanted to keep,” she says.


The Sabato home offers privacy, intimacy, simplicity, and comfort for them as well as their daughter’s family. In a world where extended families are often separated by hundreds if not thousands of miles, it seems like George was on to something 20 years ago when he planted a seed that became a beautiful tree of familial closeness and bliss.


Images by Ed Taylor

Meeka landed in St. Augustine in 2012 after zigzagging between Indonesia and South Florida for over 25 years. Her multifaceted life includes being an entrepreneur, a writer, and a mom. In addition to writing for numerous publications, she just finished her first book.