New Wheldon Family Home in St. Petersburg
By Mary Lou Janson
Inspirations for the interior of Susie Wheldon’s custom-designed home were drawn from such diverse sources as the white-washed interior brick walls of a local business, to the checkered flag associated with motor sports.
Similar bricks salvaged from a Milwaukee building that have been plastered and painted, add depth and dimension to one wall of her master bedroom. Black and white squares reminiscent of the racing pennant pattern the floor of an upstairs bathroom.
Unconventional ideas and elements and multi-level angles are apparent throughout the two-story, 3,600-square-foot home that combines modern design with minimal décor, contrasts light and dark colors and features textured wood floors, sleek metal surfaces and smooth marble counters.
A desire to live in the family-friendly community of St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast neighborhood, meant not only moving from nearby Snell Isle, but designing and building a new home. The mother of two admired the red brick-lined streets and American Craftsmen-style bungalows that define the centrally located district, but needed a more practical floor plan to accommodate individual bedrooms for sons Sebastian, 7, and Oliver, 5, space for entertaining guests, an office where Wheldon could manage professional and personal matters and a modest pool.“I knew we wanted to be in this neighborhood,” Wheldon said.
“There are a lot of great homes with character here, but I had to have a functional space that would work for all of us. We really had to think outside of the box, but once I saw the plans I fell in love with it.”
To meet those needs within the confines of a single, narrow lot, she worked closely with Jimmy Brattain of Design Works Florida, who created the flowing floor plan and eye-catching architecture. Elaine Pauley of Urban Style Interiors of Indianapolis, met with Wheldon every few months to help select the ideal interior fixtures, features and furnishings, that contribute to the “classy, modern industrial” décor.
“The house is my version of clean, white, simple architecture,” said Brattain. The front door appears to open directly into the house but instead accesses the pool and patio area that sports views of blue skies, twinkling stars and the multi-level gabled roof.
“The inspiration for the courtyard is Santorini (city in Greece). I liked the different levels of roofs that make the courtyard feel like you are in a small village,” said Brattain. “It’s a playful take on architecture that you can’t see from the street.”
Lots of windows, many well above eye level, high ceilings, French doors and an open floor plan on the ground level, provide ample space for gatherings of friends and family. Separate, but spacious, rooms above the living area offer a sense of sanctuary that is enhanced by the soothing, cooling colors incorporated throughout the rooms.
Framed black and white family photos displayed on the second floor and small canvases of original paintings by family friends, relatives and others closely connected with Wheldon, exhibited in another stairwell, put a personal stamp on the premises that make the home feel all that much more warm and welcoming.
The Wheldon family has called St. Petersburg home for years. Dan Wheldon was a professional race car driver who died doing what he loved at age 33. A red brick bearing his autograph is embedded among the white bricks in a bedroom. A fabric featuring the British flag of the U.K. native’s homeland cover an armchair that is located in the children’s upstairs play area.
“Those help to keep us all together,” said Susie Wheldon. From her home office overlooking the front yard, Wheldon manages the Dan Wheldon Foundation she created to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. M
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