Floridians Brad and Robin Cooper recently opened their doors to give us an inside look at the extensive process and masterful taste that went into creating their Davis Shores home. The couple, who just celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary, describe the home as nothing short of a dream realized.
The build took over five years, beginning with the initial design concept in 2011. Robin and Brad love sharing their home with their friends and wanted to focus on an open floor plan that was ideal for entertaining. With the help of builder Jason Forrest, they did just that.
Brad credits Jason and his team with the master craftsmanship of the house. “Working with Jason was a lot of fun. He was always open to my ideas and enjoyed the challenge. He’s a serious perfectionist so I knew I could trust him to run with an idea and it would turn out better than I’d envisioned.”
Being on hand during the building process allowed the Coopers to have what Brad describes as “serendipitous moments.” One such moment led to the gorgeous windows on the second story. Before the massive exterior wall was complete, Brad noticed how beautiful the natural light and scenery was through the exposed beams. He and Jason Forrest put their heads together to create small “picture frame-esque” windows that offer changing views throughout the day.
Such artistic windows are well suited for the incredible collection of art the house displays. Upon entering the home, the first thing you’ll notice – after the waterfront oasis of the St. Augustine Inlet – is this love for art. The couple’s modern amenities are blended with just the right amount of eclectic flare. Not all couples enjoy working on a home build together but Brad credits their success to their “division of labor,” saying they shared the load equally but concentrated on their personal strong suits. Brad’s primary focus was the engineering elements while Robin headed up the aesthetic design.
It is clear while gazing at the masterful art that adorns the walls of the Coopers’ home that each piece holds special meaning. Art and music are a huge part of the Coopers’ lives and being able to “pay it forward” by decorating with pieces that support the local art community is beyond rewarding. They were even able to experience a tangible result of their patronage when the palm tree sculptures they commissioned for the home helped an artist they admire land a full-ride master’s scholarship to pursue her passion—further proof of art impacting lives.
But beauty wasn’t their only focus while conceptualizing their plans. Making their home sustainable was also at the forefront of the design concept. Having lived through Florida’s hurricanes before, the Coopers wanted to “overbuild,” choosing materials that could withstand sustained winds and adding generators that would maintain the master suite in the event of an emergency. Little did they know how quickly they would come to appreciate their precautions.
Eight months after the couple moved into their home, Hurricane Matthew shredded the eastern coast in October of 2016 and St. Augustine sustained some of the worst flooding and wind damage in centuries. There was nothing Brad and Robin could do but trust that their home would do what it was designed to do and hold strong. To their relief, it did. They had damage to the property, dock, and pool, but their home had fended off the storm.
“We had a bit of survivor’s guilt,” Brad says. “So many of our neighbors didn’t fare as well, but we did what we could to help out.” Whether it was lending generators or inviting neighbors over for a meal to escape the stress of the storm, the Coopers were there for their community. St. Augustine shares an unparalleled sense of togetherness, and Davis Shores is no exception. According to the Coopers,“Hurricane Matthew brought our community together and strengthened bonds.”
During the lengthy building process, Brad admitted he was apprehensive about how their home would be received since it wasn’t being built in the area’s typical Mediterranean-Spanish style. But to their relief, the Coopers say they felt accepted by the Davis Shores community. “Neighbors would routinely stop by to see what we were doing and were generally pleased.” And how could they not be? Brad and Robin kept the environment conscious in their decisions. They used pervious pavers that reduce runoff, allowing rainwater to recharge the ground and even installed an A/C system that recycles water.
Even though the house already looks like a masterpiece, Brad still has a few finishing touches planned before he can say the project is complete. But when he’s not coming up with new genius scenarios for his abode, you can find him jamming out in “the Bradlands,” his own home recording studio, or performing around town with his band mates, T. Martin and The Troublemakers. Robin enjoys spending her free time helping local charities, but she always keeps an eye open for inspiring art to add to the Coopers’ ever growing collection.
The Coopers are extremely pleased with how their home turned out. Working with some of the best in the biz made their home build dreams a reality. A home like the Coopers’ is more than just the beautiful lines, sleek finishes, and art that adorns its walls. It is an investment in the local builders, contractors, professionals, and artists that helped the masterpiece come to life.
They would like to thank builder Jason Forrest and his team at Jason Forrest Inc., Steve Chapman – All American Air, Debi Hanks – DHD Home Design Inc., Chip Yelton – Yelton Marine Construction, Jimmy Young – Masonry, Larry Einheuser – Complete Pool, Horizon Landscaping, Atlantic Home Security, Kelly Electric and everyone else who had a hand in making the house what it is. And of course we have to mention some of the artists, whose designs brought the Cooper’s unique vibe to life. A special thanks to artists Wendy Tatter and Casey Wright-Schachner and Coastal Traders and the Coleman Gallery.
Photography by Ed Taylor