Most southerners who have vacationed to the Florida panhandle are familiar with the idyllic town of Seaside, Florida. A front-runner and benchmark in the New Urbanism movement, Seaside is known for its beach cottage charm and southern vernacular. Scott and Lisa Brooks, of Borges Brooks Builders, looked to Seaside for the location of their personal residence and purchased one of the last remaining lots. Their home, 392 Forest Street, known as The Light of Dawn, is a beautiful new edition to Seaside’s iconic and evolving architecture.

Creative Challenge: thinking outside the box

The Brooks sought out longtime friend and colleague, Dawn Thurber of Thurber Architecture, to meet the challenge of designing on a 30’ X 30’ build-able footprint. “The objective was to create something that was not going to be a small square box on this small lot. We wanted to get some kind of curve in it,” said Lisa. Dawn came up with a radius window wall that extends from the ground floor up to three levels and angled it upward to create the lighthouse look. “The radius suggests the prow of a ship, when you stand back and look at the house from a distance it’s a very prominent feature as it ties into the tower. Each side of the tower roof has a three dimensional eyebrow,” said Scott. Lisa said, “It appears to be winking at you when you walk by.”

“We knew that we needed a reverse floorplan to create openness and take advantage of the views looking out. Having the living areas centered gave us the best use for the space and we were also able to cantilever out to add extra square footage,” said Scott

Smart and Stylish

“The whole house has an automated lighting, communication and security system. I can pick up my phone from anywhere in the world and turn the lights on.” Scott, who is also an airline pilot confirms that he has tried this successfully from Dubai. Space limitations also prompted the use of an innovative and efficient HVAC system. “It’s really a very green and smart house.”

“We wanted to mix rustic and contemporary elements and also throw in a bit of industrial flair every now and then. On the rustic side we chose antique oak beams from a barn in Pennsylvania, white oak floors milled with radial saw marks, and custom interior doors made from the same white oak for a seamless look,” said Scott. Cowhide rugs and animal hide upholstered chairs elegantly contrast the contemporary crystal light fixtures and opulent tile backsplash by Q Tile. Another seamless juxtaposition is the rustic sliding barn door clad with industrial hardware. Aged metal stair railings and cabling, custom fabricated steel bunkbeds, industrial ceiling vents and a pneumatic acrylic glass elevator bestow a timelessly modern feel to the home. Scott relays that their goal was to do something completely different than they had done in the past. “We wanted to bring more authentic texture from different sources,” said Lisa. The Brooks commissioned local artists, including award winning glass artist Mary Hong, to create one of a kind pieces as focal points throughout the home. The Venetian plaster wall finish was created by renowned decorative artist, William Edwards, to strike a balance between the cool industrial greys and warm rustic tones throughout the home.

The Light of Dawn

Dawn Thurber unexpectedly passed away in May of 2014 while the home was under construction. Those who knew her felt her light radiate in all that she did as a friend and professional. As Dawn’s only Seaside design, Scott and Lisa named the home in her honor. “We always thought it looked like a lighthouse. It’s the light of her design, the sunrise each morning…” Her light continues to shine.

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