[nggallery id=4 images=1]It's not hard to understand why home tours are so popular. At the homes, visitors can find design inspiration, pick up decorating tips and get advice from other homeowners, not to mention indulging their inner snoop. More difficult to grasp, however, is why homeowners would agree to be part of a tour and allow complete strangers to traipse through their house and critique their choice of pillow shams and tile grout.
For some homeowners, the decision to open their private residence to the general public is a matter of pride. They put their time, energy and money into making their home beautiful and want to share it with others. Mark Macco, whose Ponte Vedra Boulevard house is featured on The Legacy Trust Ponte Vedra Beach Home and Art Tour benefiting The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach this month, certainly fits into that category. But he also has a more altruistic motivation. As president of Abode Residential Design Solutions with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of architecture, Macco believes it is incumbent on him to educate the public, not only about architecture but space planning and interior design.
Lesson one: “The ‘McMansion’ era is over.”
At 3,815 square feet, Macco’s house is modest compared to many homes on Ponte Vedra Boulevard, but he says good design is more about how you use a space than how much space you have.
"Our house isn’t the biggest on the block," he says of the residence he shares with his partner of 11 years, Sam Hall, “but it’s well thought out.” For starters, the home’s purposeful design eliminates wasted spaces. Instead of a “gigantic foyer to nowhere,” guests enter through a smaller, more welcoming vestibule painted in warm yellow and given a sense of drama with stately white columns. In lieu of an elaborate, industrial-size kitchen, the house features a galley that is compact, yet efficient, an important quality for a couple who entertain as often as Macco and Hall do. (Speaking of efficiency, how ingenious was it to situate a walk-through closet between the master bedroom and laundry room?)
Further demonstrating the trend toward doing more with less is the home’s U-shaped layout, which creates a defined outdoor living space that functions like another room and allows for privacy around the pool and spa.
Lesson two: “Be colorful.”
“People agonize about what color to paint their walls. They’re frozen by having to make a decision so they paint everything white,” he says. “But paint is not
permanent. If you don’t like the color, you can always paint over it.”
In Macco’s endeavor to bring color into the home, he wound up choosing paint with equally colorful names such as Sunrise, Rainy Day and Hemp.
Lesson three: “Give every space purpose.”
Due in large part to heightened environmental consciousness, consumers are looking for ways to simplify their lives, starting at home. As a result, Macco says, homeowners are moving away from overly ornate décor—or as he likes to call it, “frosting”—in favor of a more contemporary style that focuses on clean lines, minimal accessories and sustainable materials.
This evolution in design is apparent throughout Macco and Hall’s home. The family room, for example, contains only four pieces of furniture—a curved
sectional sofa, two leather ottomans and a square coffee table—and a selection of glassware displayed in a custom-made wall unit in cherry wood that Macco designed himself. The living room is similarly composed with a few key pieces of furniture and two maple built-ins that showcase a limited selection of objets d’art.
With furnishings and accessories kept to a minimum, the couple’s art collection is the center of attention of each room, which Macco says was their primary goal. “We built the house around art. Everywhere you look there’s a focal point,” he says, whether it’s an Inuit jade sculpture or a vibrant botanical painting. “It’s all about taking spaces and giving them purpose.”
Lesson four: “Good design doesn’t have to be expensive.”
Just as bigger isn’t necessarily better, filling a house with pricey furniture, costly fabrics and high-end amenities is no guarantee of a beautiful home either.
For that reason, Macco advises homeowners to follow the basic tenets of architectural design such as proportion, rhythm, placement and purpose when building or decorating their home. Incorporating feng shui principles into the floor plan and interior design also serves to create a sense of balance, flow and energy, which affect a home’s overall atmosphere.
Recognizing that some people may not have the time and/or inclination to research these subjects, Macco suggests working with a design professional. Oftentimes, hiring an architect or interior designer can actually save homeowners money since his or her expertise can help reduce the need for construction change orders and avoid decorating mishaps.
Another cost-cutting tip, Macco says, is to choose less expensive finishes. “People hem and haw about it, but if [a material] is ‘of the earth,’ then you can’t go wrong.” For instance, quartz has a similar look and feel to granite but is generally less expensive. Chances are homeowners won’t even notice the difference between a quartz countertop and granite countertop, and their guests won’t care.
Macco incorporated a variety of materials into the home’s design including slate
surrounding the fireplace in the family room, Brazilian cherry flooring in the kitchen and dining room, clay tiles on the roof and river rocks that adorn the pool and hot tub.
Lesson five: “Your home should be a comfort zone.”
As the Macco-Hall residence demonstrates, practicality, sustainability and efficiency
certainly have their place in home design, but relaxation should be the guiding force, as
evidenced by the master bedroom.
With its tranquil color scheme and soothing view of the pool, the room is immediately relaxing. Clerestory windows provide natural light that is subtle but also rejuvenating.
Macco welcomes the spa-like atmosphere of his bedroom as a much-needed respite from the stresses of life, and he is eager to share the peace and serenity with home tour visitors. So long as they don’t expect a massage or