October 2018

Art and Science: Stunning Berkeley Hall home pairs luxury with engineering brilliance

Author: Barry Kaufman

In the 1950s, famed builder Arthur Rutenberg pioneered some of the innovations that we simply take for granted today: bedrooms positioned strategically within the home for maximum peace and privacy; open spaces whose sightlines draw the eye toward wide windows and lush greenery beyond; placing the kitchen at the center of the home, creating a hub for family and entertaining.

While they seem obvious today, these were radical innovations when Rutenberg introduced them. That philosophy of creativity at the intersection of art and science continues to drive Arthur Rutenberg Homes, and it has found perhaps its ultimate expression in this Berkeley Hall home by local franchisee Blue Ocean Luxury Homes.

“We’re continuing his legacy with his architectural teams,” said Deb Durrant, who owns the local franchise along with her husband Doug. “I could go on and on about the building criteria we have as a Rutenberg builder.”

As a franchisee, Blue Ocean Luxury Homes took the classic design of a Rutenberg Ranch and took it in bold new directions. You’ll find the bedrooms spaced in classic Rutenberg fashion, but Blue Ocean has taken the master suite and expanded it to the realm of jaw-dropping luxury. Accessed via a gorgeous rotunda-style entryway (“You’ll notice we don’t have a lot of hallways,” Deb noted.), the suite sees a lush in-home spa of a private bath with zero-entry shower and freestanding tub to one side, and to the other a palatial master bedroom.

And while the soaring tray ceiling and panorama of windows evoke a marvelous sense of space, you’ll find that there isn’t a single square inch of wasted space in the bedroom. It’s something you’ll find in each of the three bedrooms, and it’s very intentional: these private spaces exult in spaciousness, not in sprawl.

Those Rutenberg sightlines are there as well, meticulously crafted during the design stage to craft a sense of wonder the moment you step in the door.

“You’ll see when you walk in that nothing interrupts that view,” Deb said, standing in the grand foyer and taking in the whole of the open living space with a sweep of her arms. Stretched out before her beneath a vaulted gable ceiling, the comforts of a spacious living room spill out toward a screened-in lanai with soaking pool. Merging these indoor and outdoor spaces into one is as simple as sweeping aside a set of sliding glass pocket doors, including two that meet at an ingenious 90-degree angle.

Within minutes, the entirety of the house becomes one, making it ideal for entertaining. Guests can mingle inside and out, and retreat to quieter corners within a pair of dens that sit at opposite corners of the home. These more private areas, situated as they are beside the larger more open areas for entertaining, are another Rutenberg idea that has been brought to life here.

“We had our grand opening back in March and invited all the residents of Berkeley Hall, and nobody was elbow to elbow,” Deb said.

But anyone who has entertained knows that ultimately the party will find its way to the kitchen, and again we see a Rutenberg principle expressed beautifully. The wide quartz center island of the kitchen serves as the nucleus of the house, leading into a kitchen that bears all the hallmarks of contemporary luxury. Custom Cabico cabinets, crafted with the utmost attention to quality, ring a space marked by high-end Thermador appliances and sightlines that let you take in the whole house while you cook.

It’s a classic Rutenberg kitchen. A door to one side of the refrigerator opens to a massive “invisible” walk-in pantry that wraps around the fridge’s footprint, showcasing the builder’s penchant for creative ideas. Stacked-stone accents behind the range hood mirror a fireplace accent wall on the far side of the living space, evoking the Rutenberg dedication to symmetry with artful impact.

Everywhere you look, you see artistry. Subtle curves on the dramatic front entrance and gable windows serve as a subtle nod to French architecture (the model’s name, Monceau, stems from a Parisian park).

Stretching across the open living space, decorative gable ties add just a touch of industrial intrigue to the home’s contemporary motif. A simple splash of textured wallpaper on the main suite’s rotunda ceiling adds charm and classic style to the entryway. Nearly everywhere you look, some tiny detail speaks to a greater overall commitment to quality.

But a Rutenberg design isn’t just about how a home looks. There are decades of experience in these walls—a commitment to the science of building a home that will stand the test of time. Of course, around here, we’re more interested in a home standing the test of hurricane-force winds, and in that regard Blue Ocean has created something above and beyond most homes you’ll find here.

“It was designed to meet Florida building codes,” Doug said, proudly showing off a sample of the unique cable tie-down system that’s in each exterior wall of the home. The contraption, perched in one corner of his office, consists of two-by-six planks, braced as they would be in a wall with a thick steel cable running down the center. Push and pull all you like; it’s immovable.

Each exterior wall carries this system, holding the entire frame of the house together in an impregnable cage that’s anchored to the concrete. The roof is engineered to attach to this system by the trusses, creating an integrated, scientifically sound structure that can withstand nearly anything the Carolinas can throw at it. In addition, longer exterior walls are braced by interior walls at regular intervals, blending seamlessly with the home’s architecture.

“The Town of Bluffton’s inspector has an engineering background, and when she came through she told us, ‘You guys build the strongest house in the area,’” Doug said. “That was a great compliment.”

As a piece of engineering, the house is a marvel. As a work of art, it’s breathtaking. It’s a little bit of both, and in that way, it expands on a legacy of quality craftsmanship established by Arthur Rutenberg and perfected in Berkeley Hall.

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