Southern Hospitality

A night view of The New American Home 2008 in Orlando, Florida

Mention of “plantation-style” homes often conjure images of Tara, Scarlett O’Hara’s palatial mansion in Gone with the Wind. Certainly The New American Home 2008, reminiscent of traditional Southern architecture, pays homage to a bygone era of genteel living and conveys a reverence for the past.

When considering an architectural style for the home, Charlie and Judy Robertson, of Robertson Homes in St. Cloud, Florida, gravitated toward Southern architectural styling, which reflected their interest in, and affinity for, Greek Revival. Even more than that influence, however, their goal was to build a beautiful and innovative home, while also honoring an era affected by an event in the more recent past: Hurricane Katrina. “We looked at Katrina and the devastation it caused,” said Charlie Robertson, “how it destroyed beautiful old homes that had stood for hundreds of years, and we wanted to do something to honor the history of those homes, as well as help the people in those areas.” Consequently, the Robertson’s decided to design the home in the tradition of old Mississippi and Louisiana-style homes.

The next step was to communicate their vision to residential designer Dan Sater of theSater Group, who worked hard to translate their ideas into a tangible form. “Dan did a great job interpreting period details to retain the old-style feel we were looking for,” said Robertson. Examples of those details include the use of extensive trim work and crown molding, minimizing the use of drywall, plus columns and stairways constructed of wood. The home’s 12-foot ceilings are also uncommon in today’s day and age, and create a feeling of spaciousness on a grand scale, reminiscent of the Antebellum time period. Multiple fireplaces, wooden floors and the use of wallpaper in many of the rooms also date back to that era.

A detailed view of the Greek Revival Columns that are used throughout the architecture home

Of course the columned portico along the symmetrical front elevation truly embodies the stately plantation style look, and beckons guests to enter in proper “Southern hospitality” fashion. Once inside, the home offers plenty of areas that perpetuates the tradition of entertaining in style. On the main floor, the grand salon and dedicated dining room are perfect for more formal gatherings, while the kitchen and adjoining leisure room naturally lend themselves to casual get-togethers. The kitchen is equipped for serious cooks, including two ovens, two dishwashers, and two sinks, along with a warming drawer and other convenient features that make it easy to accommodate a large group. The nearby butler’s pantry, which has an additional sink, as well as icemaker and under-counter wine cooler, helps with serving and keeps cleanup out of plain view.

The Club Room

Upstairs, the name of the game is family fun in the club room, which incorporates a wet bar, as well as theater quality entertainment, games and other activities. Robertson points out that Timberlake was instrumental in designing what amounts to four separate kitchens in the home: the main kitchen, the club room wet bar, the kitchen in the family suite area, and the morning bar in the master bedroom. “Timberlake worked as part of the team to design all of the kitchen areas, and we were extremely pleased with the outcome,” said Robertson. “Timberlake did an exceptional job all the way around.”

The old Southern style was updated in many ways throughout the house, with modern amenities added to make it relevant for today’s lifestyles. But there’s no question the home embodies the grandeur and generosity associated with the spirit of the South. Which is especially apropos considering its genesis. The inspiration for The New American Home 2008 is being carried through even after the home debuts at the International Builders’ Show in February. After the show, the home will stay open to host a fundraiser, and the proceeds will benefit the Katrina Relief Fund, along with a local children’s charity.

 

This article originally appeared in Volume 8, Issue 1 (February 2008) of Portfolio Magazine.
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