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Brilliance on the Bay

Along Tampa Bay stretches the prominent Bayshore Boulevard, with a white classical balustrade by the blue waters, and a lasting sidewalk that stretches beside the historic skyline and tropical views. Principal architect Stephen Smith at Cooper Johnson Smith Peterson Architects shares his design philosophy that beauty comes from the structure. “The architecture reveals a certain kind of honesty that allows you to see how the structure goes together,” says Smith. By exposing the architecture on this island-style Bayshore home, it unveils its bare beauty.

“We aim to make homes lovable, and there is nothing lovable about an 11,000-square-foot monstrous box,” Smith declares. Smith and his team — along with builder Stephen Loupin — approached the large site by creating a L-shaped, gable-on-gable home. A charming courtyard with a swimming pool sits in between the structure, its separate freestanding garage, and carriage house for guests to unite all parts of the property.

White plaster, exposed rafters, porches with overhangs, Cuban tile, and French doors draw from Caribbean architecture yet are infused with yacht-like horizontal railings for a modern flair. “What we try to do is distill the inspiration down and make sure we create something timeless yet fresh and new,” explains Smith.

By exposing the substantial cypress beams and artistic brackets in the living room, the structure gives way to ornament and vice versa. The home’s interior design is primarily composed of a warm taupe and cream colorway adding a delightful softness to the structural details. Modern furnishings blend function and beauty, pulling the design forward in time. Through a wide arch opening, the kitchen is a mixture of geometric forms. A duo of retro-esque light fixtures are suspended above the farmhouse-style island, and the octagonal hood sets a shapely tone that is echoed in Cuban tile flooring and geometric backsplash.

Landscape architect Michael Mulligan states, “As a designer, I always let the architecture dictate the style of the landscaping.” To preserve the precious view of the Bay, the entry-scape was kept classic and simple.

However, all the other foliage with the exception of the giant oak tree was brought in to thoughtfully create privacy for the property. To create the illusion that the pool floats atop soft greenery, Mulligan places a Creeping Fig that clings to the pool’s stucco sidewall. “In much of our work, we expose the structure. It is a delight! We try to elevate that concept to the highest level, making the home structural art,” Smith imparts. And for this iconic area, the talent of these designers to create bare beauty resulted in brilliance on the bay.

*Feature cover image: Thick, prominent columns with a chamfered edge ground the home. Architect Stephen Smith designs delicate, dual wood columns above to lighten the architectural feel of the second floor. “The functional brackets keep the structure rigid, and are ornamental at the same time,” he shares. Smith draws from his fascination with Bermuda’s tropical architecture, cresting the home with sculptural parapets that share shapely forms with the arches.

The kitchen’s farmhouse-style island acts as both a table and functional storage. Modern, clean lines repeat in the navy blue cabinets and the under-lit floating shelves that flank the rustic white hood. The large orb pendants give off a retro vibe and hang over the swirly-onyx, gray, and white granite countertop. A pearly, handmade, geometric backsplash livens this focal wall. Set between the navy cabinets and white backsplash is the exceptional ILVE Majestic range with polished brass pulls and knobs.

The grand mahogany door creates an awe-inspiring entry. Natural travertine runs the perimeter, framing the gray Cuban tile. In a sophisticated blue-gray, the ceiling structure stands out against the white exterior to highlight its octagonal shape. The black metal, triangular-caged pendant and modern sconces bridge this time-honored and fresh design. “This was our second custom home with the design team,” shares Loupin, “Stephen Smith’s vision and ability to design ‘the spectacular’ is unparalleled.”

“Typical construction covers up 98 percent of the structure — we expose it because it’s artful,” says Smith. Revealing overhangs show the art form of the building and shelter the veranda. The horizontal rail motif is a nod to the old steam ships, giving the home a nautical feel. Blending the structure with the landscape, Mulligan uses Mexican Beach Pebbles and dwarf grasses among the coral stone tiles to create a meandering path to the ipé-clad outdoor shower.

Written by Rachel Seekamp

Photography by Judson Brady


Cooper Johnson Smith Peterson Architects

102 South 12th Street

Tampa, FL 33602



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