A Heavenly Vision
By Tammy Massey | Photography by Romona Robbins
In the spirit of the Maison Citrohan and ideally located at the heart of Ruskin Place in Seaside, Stairway to Heaven is the consummate New Urban residence. Widely admired, this three-story residence was conceived by internationally esteemed NYC architect Alexander Gorlin to be his personal haven. Similar to Le Corbusier’s rebellions, Gorlin’s iconic gesture is an ongoing comment about the emptiness of blindly mimicking historic styles while at the same time corroborating the strengths of Seaside’s traditional New Urban plan. Stairway to Heaven is a child of the Bauhaus, the most influential modern art school of the twentieth century, which bridged the gap between art and industry and design and functionality by combining crafts and fine arts.
According to Bauhaus principles, materials should be used in the simplest and most honest form, as exampled in the exposed steel framework of the exterior and in my selections for the art and furnishings throughout the interior. With my combined professional backgrounds in architecture and interior design, I had the knowledge and experience to understand how to symbiotically mesh both design conventions into one cohesive, soothingly spirited, and poetically classic modern sanctuary.
Cast in the 1996 movie The Truman Show and fronting on Ruskin Place’s promenade, the “Rubeo Architects” sign prop (a remnant of Truman’s office building) still dazzles and fools visitors who confidently declare the first floor to be the current office of Seaside’s Town Architect.
In accordance with the Seaside Code’s intent, the open, inviting exterior stair promotes social interaction while evoking subliminal recollections of Italian hill town loggias and the very urban brownstone stoop. Diagonal to the civilized and congenial Ruskin public areas, the two-story-high glazing of the living area forms a retractable screen with subtle shifts in park panoramas or, if you desire to close the cascading sailcloth curtains, the space then becomes a thrilling private retreat. As the basis for the residence’s double entendre label and from the park entry vantage point, one can simultaneously see the five highly articulated and well-crafted stairs that culminate in the “Stairway to Heaven”—the spiritual and physical pinnacle of Seaside.
Conscientiously constructed and meticulously maintained, Stairway to Heaven is one of the sturdiest and most precisely constructed buildings on the Gulf Coast. Thoughtfully detailed, the house was principally built with stucco on reinforced concrete, steel, glass, and stone.
The first floor is comprised of one large room and one intimate room that share a bath and convenience bar. The spaces can easily be transformed to accommodate various functions and needs. Justin Lyons recently painted the entire north wall of the first floor in situ with an original work. Red oak floors anchor the primary living areas on the second level. New stainless steel appliances, plumbing fixtures, and Carrera countertops and backsplash have recently been installed. The curved wall off the dining space seamlessly conceals the mirrored and tiled powder room. Structurally intriguing, the walled spiral stair with oak treads leads to the third-level bedroom suite, which comprises an organic bath, a sunlit nautilus shower, and a private glass-wall balcony, which overlooks the Lyceum, Seaside, WaterColor, and the Gulf of Mexico. From the suite, the meditative single ascent takes you to the dramatic release of the roof terrace. From this lofty perch, incredible moonlit and sunset views of the town, landscape, water, and sky are a continuous delight. For the adventurous extrovert, one more trek will take you to the top of the walk where there just may be a glimpse of heaven.
About Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven is being offered fully furnished with signature pieces from Aida, Eames, Foscarini, Sakura, and Alivar and the first-floor artwork by Justin Lyons.
As a trained professional architect and having lived next door to Stairway to Heaven for many years, I had developed an immensely ingrained passion for its unique architectural sculpture and internationally classic modern character.
The south-facing pedestrian corner of Stairway embraces magical Ruskin Place; the two create a perfect and complementing union. With terraces overlooking the romantically quaint artist colony park and gallery-adorned promenade on the east and the most astonishing Gulf views and sunsets to the west, Stairway to Heaven is a dream fulfilled for the idealistic artistic soul or the seasoned voyager.
With full admiration, honor, and respect for Alex Gorlin, my focus was on being sensitive to and complementing the internal light patterns, the sculptural elements, and the proportions with respect to how each space engages its relationship both internally and externally.
Overall color tone and scheme inspirations were drawn from the soft and subtle sepia tones of the quadriptych vintage photo and the melon tones of the exterior steel structural pieces. The dynamic yet meditative second-level living/kitchen/dining spaces are introspectively seductive, sharing homage to classic modern furniture designers with Breuer’s Wassily Chair, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, and Saarinen’s molded shell Tulip Chairs. Bright, playful energy and pure happiness reek on the ground level, celebrating an opportunity to be transformed into an artistic retail venue. The master bedroom is the ultimate enclave of 1950s “posh modern,” pulling hue tones from our alluring Gulf waters.
Original artwork from my own collection, in addition to works from talented and acclaimed local artists Michael Granberry, Cheryl Troxel, and Justin Lyons, can be found in most appropriate settings, contributing to a totality that encompasses all artistic media.
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