The upside to downsizing

family room

The family room at Les and Sharon Rock’s PGA Village home feeds out from the kitchen with lakefront views of the Legacy Golf Course. ROB DOWNEY PHOTO

PGA Village resident likes to put imprint on homes when going smaller


Whether he is upsizing or downsizing, Les Rock always makes sure he leaves his design on his homes in PGA Village.

The apparel manufacturer from Miami took one look in 2001 at PGA Village and knew where he wanted to live. Rock and his wife, Sharon, had raised two daughters during 35 years in south Miami when a business partner urged him to take a look at Port St. Lucie.

“I had seen Tesoro and didn’t like it, but when I drove through PGA Village, I said, ‘This is it.’ I loved it,” says Rock, who is not a golfer. His first home on Spinthrift Lane was 8,000 square feet, but it became too much for the couple after their daughters moved out after graduating from college. Downsizing in 2012, they sold the estate home and bought a 3,500-square-foot house on the other side of the development, remodeling it to their very specific tastes.

Contractor Joe Telese built the large estate home for Rock and remodeled the current residence on Laurels Place. “Mr. Rock knows what he wants,” Telese says. “The house was dark and kind of dreary. He opened it up and gave it new life. It was like day and night. He enhanced the front. No one on that street has columns like that.”

Telese says the work took 30 days with crews working almost day and night – an amazing feat considering the scope of the remodeling work. Tile people sometimes worked until one in the morning, he says.

living room

Even though Les Rock doesn’t really play the piano, this one has the memory to play many songs, with and without accompanying instruments. The high ceilings give the living room an open, airy feeling.

All the carpet was ripped out of every room and replaced with the same ceramic tile throughout the home. Each bathroom and the kitchen were remodeled with new granite counters. With beautiful white crown molding, the whole interior of the home was painted a relaxing light yellow, almost cream color. Shelves were installed in all the closets and pantry.

“He showed me his drawings and I put them in,” Telese says.

The outside walls received new paint, while all of the landscaping in the front of the house was dug up and replaced. In the pool area, some pavers were added, but the interesting part of Rock’s plan was to cut out three areas of the patio for landscaping.

“We planted one section at a time so we could see how it looked,” Rock says.

Also completed was a partial pathway to a fire pit and eating area overlooking a lake on the Legacy Golf Course. The couple also planted an orange, peach, avocado and mulberry tree and six mango trees. The Rocks freeze the mangoes for enjoyment long after the fruit is gone for the season.

“He’s ‘Mister Cook’ in this house,” Sharon says of her husband. “He spoils me. We don’t go out to eat much. He knows his spices.”

The pantry was gutted and shelves installed floor to ceiling. But aside from a couple of boxes of canned vegetables, the small room is filled with books, cooking equipment and spices, lots of spices. It is not a typical pantry.

family room

Les Rock enjoys his “man cave”and custom hot tub that was installed by cutting through the existing floor. While soaking, he enjoys either TV or music through headphones.

“I love the cooking shows and I cook everything, different cuisines from Northern Italian to Mediterranean to French,” Rock says. “I love to enhance the recipe.” He has roasted a pig for 40 guests in his homemade Cuban roaster, but he usually cooks for 10 or fewer people.

Sharon insisted on installing a reverse osmosis system for drinking water. “We love it,” she says. “You could smell the water before.”

With the exception of the stove surrounded by stone, the kitchen was almost a complete makeover with new granite countertops, new state-of-the-art appliances including a stand-alone icemaker and a beverage cooler under the center island. The backsplash was completely replaced with iridescent glass tiles accented by recessed lighting.

Beneath the master bathroom floor, plumbing was installed for a jet spa tub in the center of the room with symmetrically perfect his and her vanities, left and right. Behind the large screen TV is the walk-through shower, accessible from either side. Rock calls the master bathroom his “man cave.” With back problems, he likes to relax in the jet spa wearing headphones.

Every window in the house has wood plantation shutters while all bathroom windows were etched with curving designs to allow privacy. Rock also had recessed directional lights added to the family and living rooms. The laundry room shines from a complete makeover with new cabinets and a granite countertop. “It seemed like everything in the house was el cheapo, but we like the bones of this house,’’ he says.

After surviving Hurricane Andrew in 1992 in the south Miami neighborhood of Kristina Estates, Rock says, “I wouldn’t buy a frame house.” Andrew’s 155-mph winds tossed Rock’s camper into his house and the concrete barrel tiles were all but gone. The house he designed with his contractor was still standing with its trusses because it had been extremely over-nailed. “When it comes to houses, I like to do it my way,” he says.

master bedroom

The master bedroom, now tiled, opens out to the lanai.

Before the arrival of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, south Miami after Andrew was Dodge City with looters everywhere. Rock and his neighbors patrolled their neighborhood with blue lights, guns and dogs until the cavalry arrived, setting up tents almost next door. “I was so tired and happy when they came,” he says. “Andrew was the most unbelievable and unforgettable experience of our lives. The inside walls were vibrating and I thought we would die, but we lived through it.”

With water leaking in from above, the couple and their daughters rode out the storm in one safe room while another family was in the other. “We prayed a lot,” Rock says.

Down to the garage, the Rocks spared no expense on this downsized home. There are 13 new cabinets in the spacious two-car garage and a mix of sparkle and paint gives the floor an attractive, non-skid texture.

Rock retired from the garment business after struggling for years to keep his businesses going in Miami against foreign competition. He is a partner in a Port St. Lucie business that manufactures batteries and headsets commonly used by workers in fast-food restaurants and big-box stores.

Almost every Sunday morning, Rock can be found at the Westside Baptist Church working on a technical team that streams services on live video to listeners as far away as Germany and Israel. During his years in Miami, Rock traveled for business to all 50 states and six continents.

These days he and his wife enjoy cooking and entertaining friends and family. “It is not as much (house) for me to take care of,” Sharon says. “I like it (the house) because it is great for walking my dogs, Jasmine, Pali and Licorice.”

“This is an easy house to live in,” Rock says. “It is open enough so it flows very well. I like to do it my way. When it is cool, we love to open up the house and let the breeze flow through. And we have the best sunsets.”

Due to his health issues, the Rocks have decided to put their home of four years up for sale. They want to downsize again and build a home no larger than 2,500 square feet on another lot in PGA Village. The home is listed for $725,000 by Realtor Kay Rodriguez with Lang Realty.