Monday, November 1, 2010

Mansour House - Architect of Desire

Architect of Desire

Mansour House
The most beautiful house on Anna Maria Island, the Mansour House.

I have a confession to make: I always knew we needed an architect. (To our readers who suggested that this was the case, thanks. You were right.)

But you know what they say about marriage: It requires a little give and take. Not to mention listening to your spouse’s viewpoint. And respecting (or at least pretending to respect) his wishes.

My particular spouse was suffering from toxic sticker shock syndrome. He still couldn’t believe we had paid so much for … well, nothing; just empty space. The idea of spending more money to hire someone who would produce more nothing — just drawings of a house — took Paul some time to get used to.

Once Paul had come to the brilliant conclusion that we needed an architect, I was ready. While searching for house plans, I had also been nosing around for architects. And, as luck would have it, I found the architectural firm that had designed the most beautiful house on Anna Maria Island.

Granted, the competition wasn’t very steep. Part of Anna Maria’s charm is that it isn’t produced or packaged. It’s a jumble. Some houses have been there forever. Others have grown up like weeds. Many look as if they never had a plan, much less an architect.

But the Mansour House (that was our favorite house’s name) was different. It was charming, well-proportioned and elegant without being pretentious.

I wanted it. But, since it wasn’t for sale, and we didn’t have the $2 million or more it would cost to buy it if it were, we could at least hire the architect who designed it.

The firm was called Cooper Johnson Smith. It had won many awards, and it was in Tampa — about 75 minutes from Anna Maria. I called and asked to speak to Cooper, Johnson or Smith. They weren’t in, but in a few hours Don Cooper called back.

“We love the Mansour House,” I told him. “And we’d like to come talk to you about designing a house for our property on Anna Maria Island.”

He was happy to oblige, and we made an appointment for several weeks later, when Paul and I planned to be on the Gulf Coast.

As I hung up the phone, I felt terrific: We were going to meet the architect who would design the perfect house for us.

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