Well of Inspiration

Tranquil Living Room

Flanked by the Banana River and the Indian River, every room at real estate agent Kirk Kessel’s dream home on South Tropical Trail includes plenty of water views. ALEX SERRAO PHOTOS

Owner taps wealth of knowledge as real estate agent to create his dream home

Kirk Kessel of Carpenter/Kessel Compass Real Estate

Kirk Kessel of Carpenter/Kessel Compass Real Estate in Indian Harbour Beach drew on his vast knowledge when building his home.

Pity the real estate agent who specializes in high-end properties. These poor souls routinely explore some of the latest and greatest trends in homes. On a daily basis, they bravely encounter drool-inducing kitchens and face mile-long spa bathrooms no mortal would want to ever leave. They are keenly aware of a cornucopia of creature comforts.

How can they go to work every morning to face such a daunting job, such opportunities for raging home envy?

In the case of Kirk Kessel, the problem is solved by building your own piece of heaven; and for significantly north of $3 million, that heaven is, well, heavenly indeed.

Kessel, with Carpenter/Kessel Compass Real Estate in Indian Harbour Beach, is a seasoned real estate agent and one of the Space Coast’s top producers. His featured properties include homes in exclusive Adelaide, Viera’s most elite and gated and guarded community, where the estates boast a pedigree of the area’s best builders. Landscape upgrades alone set owners back a cool quarter-million.

When Kessel decided to build his dream abode in 2020, he could thus tap into the endless well of inspiration he had gathered from years showing some of these top residences along the Space Coast. At just more than 3,000 square feet, the four-bedroom, four-bath, three-car-garage home Kessel created is not huge by luxury home standards, but it packs a lot of amenities into the space. 

River front home

Susan Hall, the first lady of Space Coast landscape architecture, put her elegant touch on the plantings that surround the home.


Heeding the real estate mantra of location, location, location, Kessel chose as the site of his new nest a magnificent 90-foot deep waterfront lot on the southern tip of Merritt Island, where the land thins to a long, lovely ribbon flanked by water. The house is all about water views.


The Kessel residence features a deep-water dock on the Banana River, as well as another one on the Indian River.

A house that faces both the Indian and Banana Rivers is a treasure, and that 360-degree panorama sold Kessel on the lot. Architect Alex Metz designed the home that Bayswater Construction built to take full advantage of the enviable location.

“The aim was for lots of windows and big views,” Kessel said.

Dining room

The chandelier that interior stylist Kara Parks selected for the dining area balances the crisp masculine look of the home with warmth.

There is certainly an abundance of windows in the home. In fact, every room enjoys splendid vistas, except for one special space that will be discussed later. 

It must have been very tempting for interior stylist Kara Parks to go full coastal, given the home’s idyllic site, but Parks had worked with Kessel on several of his previous homes and knew that was not the look he desired.

“He likes a very crisp, uncluttered land masculine look, but he also wants it to be warm and inviting,” Parks said.

That’s a tall order, but Parks delivered, drawing on inspiration from her experiences during a magical time at a luxury spa in Costa Rica. 

She selected Benjamin Moore’s Soft Chamois white as the home’s primary interior color, with a few splashes of accent walls such as the hall’s use of Polo Blue. Walnut wood floors and exposed ceiling beams provide contrast and add warmth.


For most of the furnishings, Parks relied on custom pieces from Restoration Hardware. 

“They have the timeless chic we were looking for,” she said. 

The oversized chairs and large couch feature performance fabrics that will make for easy maintenance even if the Kessel canine, Scooter, were to place muddy doggie paws on them. 

Parks approached the bar area that commands a prominent space in the open-floor plan as a statement piece with tile accents and a wine rack that is both functional and a piece of art.

“Why not make it pretty?” she asked.

Family room

White couches and oversized chairs throughout the home are hardworking, thanks to performance fabrics that require little maintenance.

Although the kitchen depends on a palette of white, the look is not overwhelming, thanks to the splash of color the Tuscan oak island provides. Above, drop pendants from Restoration Hardware add a touch of glamor.

No small appliances will ever create a jumble out of the expansive kitchen, for Parks designed a special shelf in the walk-in pantry as a command central where these kitchen helpers can find a permanent home with plenty of power sources.

“Kirk does not like clutter,” she said.

Tuscan oak island

Although the kitchen depends on a palette of white, the look is not overwhelming, thanks to the splash of color the Tuscan oak island provides.

However, Kessel does like to entertain and the Thermador 36-inch dual-flame range, plus the 30-inch Thermador refrigerator with custom panels and the 24-inch stainless steel microwave drawer, should provide all he needs to keep the parties going.

master bedroom

Through the wall of windows in his master bedroom, Kessel has a view of the water from the moment he awakes.

master bathroom

The master bath boasts both a massive shower area and a tub for soaking. A door leads to a private outdoor shower.


Never a friend of window treatments, Kessel opted for a network of Blinds of All Kinds motorized shades that neatly disappear when not in use, yet at a moment’s notice offer complete privacy.

From the wall of windows in the master bedroom, he enjoys a look at the water outside from the moment he rises.

The master bath is also awash with light, and even the shower includes a sizable window. It’s not the only shower in the space, for an outdoor shower complete with sitting area, is also accessed via the master bath. Again, Parks drew on her Costa Rican resort experience for the space, which enjoys plenty of privacy thanks to a handsome stone wall. 

While the majority of rooms in the Kessel residence embrace the outdoors, there is one special place that looks inward. A 10-by-10 room, accessible only by a ladder, sports a couch, coffee table and television for teen daughter, Sophia.

“That’s where she hides from me,” Kessel said jokingly.



The lanai overlooks all the major toys: pool, spa, dock and putting green.

The busy Kessel wanted a home that would work as hard as he does, so the house features a network of technology that can be tapped from Kessel’s smartphone. Garage doors, air conditioners, generator, alarm, pool, security cameras with remote speakers and the oven are all operated at the touch of a cell phone’s keypad.

“This home was created to be controlled from my cell phone with ease of living in mind,” Kessel said.

For Kessel’s precious spare time, the house offers plenty of fun magnets, such as not one, but two, docks and a three-hole putting green next to the pool that has a built-in spa.

“For the pool, we wanted a clean, infinity pool look without the infinity pool prices and the infinity pool problems,” Parks said.

Susan Hall, the first lady of Space Coast landscape architecture, put her elegant touch on the plantings that surround the home. For almost four decades, Susan Hall Landscape Architecture, blending a deep understanding of architecture, engineering, urban planning and horticulture, has created visually pleasing, as well as environmentally sound designs for projects from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville. The Kessel home carries her understated yet masterful touch with plantings that are classic and perfect.

Guest bedroom

Marine-themed art throughout the house adds a coastal touch.


In the pool and spa design, stylist Kara Parks aimed for the clean lines of an infinity pool, but without the accompanying cost and maintenance.

A home that is a luxurious island resort without the hassles of living on an island — offers an oasis from Kessel’s demanding profession. The only problem is that the world of real estate provides always-changing attractions that may be too hard to ignore. 

“Kirk is already talking about new projects,” Parks said with a laugh.

Maria Sonnenberg
professor at Florida Institute of Technology | msonnenb32904@yahoo.com

Maria is a prolific writer and proofer for Space Coast Living and an adjunct professor at Florida Institute of Technology’s Nathan M. Bisk College of Business. When not writing, teaching or traveling, she can be found waging a one-woman war against her lawn and futilely attempting to maintain order among the chaos of a pack of extremely clueless wirehair dachshunds and an angst-driven basset hound.