Cybille Scott looked at more than 100 homes for sale before she found the house of her dreams - online.

It looked very modern, it had lots of windows, and I said, ”Larry, we have to look at this’,” Cybille recalled of the day in 2004 when she discovered the house on Pinellas Point in St. Petersburg while she was surfing the Internet. “It was love at first sight.”

Love in the time of remodeling, maybe. The house had been uninhabited for some time, and it soon became clear “that we had to redo everything, but the bones of the house were definitely for us.”

An good bones they were. The house, built in 1971, was designed by the late William Harvard Sr. and by Blanchard Jolly of the St. Petersburg architectural firm that bears their names. It had all the hallmarks of their signature midcentury modern style, said Lee Harvard, William Harvard’s son: “very strong horizontal massing, large overhangs, contrasting window proportions, a strong entrance.”

The house made the most of its site, a long, narrow rectangle that stretches from the street to Tampa Bay. The house is centered on the site to create “a nice procession up to the door: and the home’s dramatic two-story entry on the land side, Harvard said, and to maximize the views on the water side: dolphins, shore birds, the barrier islands, the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

The challenge: to enhance and upgrade the original house for the lifestyle of a busy, modern family. Larry Scott, 43, is chairman and chief executive office of the Women’s Tennis Association. Five years ago he and wife Cybille, 42, moved to St. Petersburg from London, where they lived for seven years while Larry worked for the men’s tennis tour. They’re the parents of three young children. The family travels a lot, for pleasure and for work. (The children have a world map on the wall so they can follow along “when Daddy’s in Dubai,” Cybille said).

 

When friends come over, they're likely to gather in the kitchen to cook, sip a glass of wine, watch TV or take in the view over Tampa Bay. The cabinets, by Michael Bright of Bright Wood Works in St. Petersburg, are made of African mahogany with a wenge stain and provide an eye-catching contrast to the glowing quartz countertops. The backyard pool offers another sort of water view for Cybille Scott and her family.

Every house tells the story of its own time and the original home reflected the 1970s desire for separate rooms with distinct uses. Back in that day, no one had an open-plan interior. No one had a spa-like bathroom or large closets. The kitchen/family room was cut up by a storage and laundry area.

Not the house reflects what its 21st century owners want. The living and dining rooms and kitchen/family room now open up one to another. The storage areas and laundry were moved. A terrace overlooking the pool was added to create the outdoor living space the Scotts want, shielded from the sun by an extended second-floor balcony that emphasized the home’s horizontal lines. The original home of 4,438 square feet was expanded to 5,152 plus another 610 square feet for the balcony.

The new bathroom, with a steam shower an sound system, “feels like you’re on vacation,” Cybille said. “My sister said, ’It’s like you’re the Four Seasons, why would you want to go anywhere?’ We go to see all these beautiful places in the world, and it’s still better than anything we go to.”

For Larry, it was important that the house be outfitted so he could work from his big, second-floor home office, monitoring tennis events around the world. The Scotts installed a Questron system that runs security, sound, video, phones and Internet access.

Contractor Carmine Pici, of Pici and Son Builders, essentially rebuilt the house from the inside out. There were structural problems to deal with, all new plumbing, wiring, air conditioning and heating. All the windows and sliders were replaced with impact glass. Skylights bring more light into a long upstairs hall that functions as a gallery.

“If you look at it from the water side, you would have thought you were seeing a new house,” Lee Harvard, the architect said. “They took it down to the studs, reworked the balconies, added the home office areas. But they kept the essence of the original design.”

“It was challenging at times,” Pici acknowledges. Cybille “wanted everything clean, straight and simple- not what the house was before, choppy and very complicated.”

 

It was her taste and her vision that drove the project. “She was so sensitive to design and so keenly interested,” Harvard said. “It isn’t every day you get to have a client so aware, who has such good artistic sense and taste.”

The finished house provides spaces to hang the Scotts’ collection of modern art, which includes a pair of lithographs by Alex Katz, Andy Warhol’s Birth of Venus, and a signed Helmut Newton poster.

But although it is a dramatic modern design statement, it is first and foremost a informal family home. The Scotts love to entertain, with everyone gathered around the semicircular quartz counter in the kitchen, talking and cooking or watching a sports event on TV. The kids sit at a vintage 1960s tble in the family room, the same place they do homework and crafts.

“We wanted to have a very nice house. We love fine things, but we’re real people, and we wanted it to be family-friendly,” Cybille says. Drinks can spill on the terrazzo floor that wipes up easily. The deep front yard houses a play structure for climbing and fun.

One of the biggest surprises has been the home’s effect on Larry, “who’s such a workaholic,” his wife says. Now she sees him cleaning the dock, fishing, cultivating the garden, washing his own car and blowing away leaves. (“I have to call his mom: this is a city boy, raised in New York!”)

“It’s so rewarding and so relaxing,” she says. “He’s learned what it is to have a home.

“We relax more here. You come in and you go, ‘Aaahhh.’ This house has calmed us down and keeps us together.”
   

photograpy by Scott Keeler