For most, home is home. And the beach is…well, not home. The beach is where vacation is. Unless home is where vacation is? Where, with the tiniest of warm rays on your cheek, the sun convinces you to come out and play like a child. Where the cool, emerald waters tickle your sandy toes as if to wash away all of the day’s worries. Where the sand is not only in your shoes, but in your soul. Where a kayak is a normal garage dweller and a bike gets more miles than a car. Where flip flops are life, and clocks are merely suggestions. Living along the Emerald Coast has its perks. The white beaches. The sparkling bay. The stunning sunsets. The unique architecture. The happy people. Oh, those happy, sunkissed people. So when this local architect found the perfect spot to settle down with his family, he did just that. He designed and built his family’s bayside home.
Having designed in communities all along scenic 30-A and sitting on Design Review Boards for communities such as Watercolor, Watersound, and Wild Heron, architect Cameron Hughes of Bluline Studio Architecture (in Santa Rosa Beach, FL), has lived and breathed beach architecture for the last 18 years. When asked what he loves most about designing in this area, he answered, “I love having the opportunity to experience all of the different experiments in community planning, as well as being exposed to the work of excellent architects. It’s constantly inspiring and challenging.” Cameron also sits on the Design Review Board for the very community he has chosen as his home, Cessna Landing. Cessna Landing is a bayfront community with access to docks for kayaking, boating, paddleboarding, pelican watching, daydreaming, and water life in general. His personal residential design is one of classic southern charm with its dramatic deep roof overhangs, wide welcoming entry stairway, beautiful dormer windows beckoning the eye upward to offer a hint of what lies inside, intimate front porch complete with a custom made porch swing, and a courtyard with walls of alternating picket fence and podocarpus hedges. This intentionally small courtyard envelops visitors like a warm, friendly hug as they make their way up to the home’s entry. A communal sense of space seems to be Cameron’s intention drawing outdoor living to the front of the house to include neighbors and passersby, and to foster a sense of community. Cameron cites “the desire to create an exterior space that we could both inhabit and use as an entry element” as his motivation for the courtyard. Hospitality is a staple of the south, and the architecture, like its inhabitants, should reflect that.
As for deciding on an overall design for the home, Cameron says he went straight to the root of the issue. His southern roots, that is. Having grown up in Mississippi, he is southern born and raised. So it’s no surprise that when asked from where he drew inspiration, he answered “Growing up, I always loved the simple clean expression of volumes found in southern vernacular architecture.” He describes southern vernacular architecture as “an organic development of a style that evolved over time in response to the heat, humidity, heavy rains, and a basic need for shade and cooling.” Outdoor elements any southerner can grudgingly attest to…while mopping sweat from the brow.
Vernacular architecture evolved out of a need for functionality and simplicity. No muss. No fuss. Deep, shady porches for long porch swing conversations and the latest gossip. Wide dramatic overhangs for keeping the rainwater, and the tall tales, at bay. Tin roofs for listening to the melody of the rain tap dancing overhead. All of which, Cameron has recreated in this design that echoes his childhood experiences, complete with a calm, soothing, exterior blue hue, reminding us of our proximity to the ocean and the peace that it brings. A blue reminder that continues throughout the charming, cozy feel of the home’s interior, adding splashes of color to the clean, crisp, white shiplap walls. One detail that can’t be missed is the addition of 3 original island pendants designed and created by Cameron and his wife. Large rustic iron spheres house pieces of driftwood the couple collected themselves on the Florida Panhandle beaches. Sitting atop the driftwood are iron birds keeping warm by the fairy light fires. Just beyond these unique conversation pieces are bright open vaulted ceilings, richly dark recycled barnwood floors, a sprawling marble countertop kitchen island, and a timeless white brick fireplace adorned with an old rusty sailboat. All coming together to make this custom waterside home as elegant as it is functional.
And when asked about the basketball goal detail on the front of his design, Cameron (father to one teenager and one tween) responded with a smile and a simple “Architecture is where life happens…and life plays basketball.”
Cameron’s ultimate aspiration is one every architect longs for. When asked what he would design if he had no limitations and no restrictions, he didn’t hesitate. “This would present to me the ability to completely meld the interior space and the exterior space into one married flowing space where you can’t determine what is inside and what is outside.” Much like the sea and the sunsets on the Emerald Coast. On a good day, with no limitations and no restrictions…you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.