William is the kind of baby who smiles with his whole body, even when he’s woken up during a tour of his fish-motif room. Little Will and his parents, Linda and Jeffrey Dumas, moved into their newly-built home in Menendez Park last April, when he was just two weeks old. Welcoming and uncluttered, this home was built around the dream that this child will spend his entire childhood here. Lucky boy.
A comforting canopy of palms, magnolias, and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss envelops the home. They designed a reverse floor plan so it would feel like a treehouse. The main living space on the second level has an abundance of ‘naked’ windows – 24 upstairs alone – to maximize the effect. “We have no curtains, on purpose,” says Linda. “I wanted to look out and just see trees and sky. You can never have too many windows.” It works. The thick vegetation bordering Anastasia State Park is directly across the street. As many trees as possible were saved when building, including the relocation of five palm trees. “Trees are the vernacular of the neighborhood,” says Jeffrey.
Jeffrey and Linda moved to St. Augustine in 2010 from Boston. City-weary, they dreamed of living near the beach and were thrilled to discover a town where that was still possible. On their first visit, they fell in love with the area and soon made the move. They found jobs in their healthcare field — Linda is a pharmacist and Jeffrey is a Physical Therapist Assistant — and then got busy house-hunting.
In 2014, they found a “really overgrown jungle” lot in an ideal location. Over the next two years, they turned potential into paradise. The four-bedroom home is 2,700 square feet with another 1,200 square feet of porches and decks. It has two and a half baths (three counting the outdoor shower). The open floor plan and ten foot ceilings give it an expansive, airy feel.
They utilized local businesses and products as much as possible. This truly custom “nest” was created with help from Bob Esposito of Esposito Designs and built by Brandon Construction. “We really loved all the coquina here. It’s not something you see anywhere else,” says Linda. They achieved a similar look by using stucco with shell dash (tabby) on the lower exterior and as a fireplace feature. The exterior’s upper half is Western Red Cedar shingles. They adamantly use all-natural materials, like cedar, marble, shells, and wood.
Three oversized windows and two in the corners allow abundant natural light to pour into the living room. A large Fiddle Leaf Fig from Southern Horticulture, thrives. The comfy oversized grey and white chairs and couch are Ethan Allen but most other pieces are from West to East on San Marco. Decorator Rachael Hanson guided their choices. “We sold everything and started from fresh,” says Linda. “It’s a classic look, but also a little rustic.” “Or a modern beach cottage style,” Jeffrey adds. A harmonious palette of grey, blue and white (all Sherwin Williams paints) enhance the walls throughout. The floors are a luxury vinyl in Alabaster Oak, a light grey color reminiscent of a windswept boardwalk.
The cherry wood fireplace mantle is pretty special, they say, it was the last thing they bought together before Linda went into labor. While shopping at Jacksonville store Eco-Relics, the salesperson feared Linda would have the baby any minute, so they got “the baby discount.” Deal. They bought the beautiful piece and drove straight to Flagler Hospital where William was later born.
Outside, the upper level eight-foot-wide porch with Trex flooring provides a peaceful sanctuary. A similar deck is off the kitchen and another patio below. The large farmhouse table is the inviting link to the kitchen. The gas range with a vertical hood is imbedded in an island topped in a solid quartzite block in “London Fog” design. A natural stone, quartzite is harder than granite and resembles marble. The farmer’s white cast-iron sink, framed by white cabinets with glass panels, is in front of a window with sunset views. All appliances are GE Monogram series.
UP AND DOWN
There are four ways to traverse the levels, including an elevator and three staircases. “We’re very practical. With the living space upstairs, the elevator makes the house more accessible to everyone,” Linda says. Right now, it comes in handy when juggling the baby and armfuls of groceries. The master bedroom and the nursery complete the upper floor.
The master stays neat largely because of that retro built-in laundry chute. It’s undeniably playful to toss clothes down (two points!) into the laundry room below. The rejuvenating “soaking tub,” with stainless steel fixtures inspires bubble-bath longings. The Mont Blanc marble tiles in herringbone and hexagon designs on the floors, vanity and shower were inspired by the white marble at Flagler College (the former Ponce de Leon Hotel).
Downstairs, find the laundry room, two guest bedrooms, a guest bath, a surfboard closet and the two-car-one-stroller garage. “We love the way the house turned out. We’re so happy,” Linda says. And why not? This is where William will always think of as “home.”
Images by Ed Taylor
Builder: Brandon Construction
Home Design: Esposito Design
Decorator: West to East
Fiddle Leaf Fig: Southern Horticulture
Kitchen Appliances: GE Monogram
Porch Decking: Trex
Sofa & Chairs: Ethan Allen