William Dobson: Designing a home, step by step

William Dobson: Designing a home, step by step

click to enlarge Dobson's Ybor City bungalow is all his creation, including the staircase and the paintings in the living room. - jamesostrand.com
Dobson's Ybor City bungalow is all his creation, including the staircase and the paintings in the living room.

Historic and modern influences combine in architect William Dobson's shotgun-style Ybor City home. Designed by the architect to function as a modernist oasis of white walls and minimally finished surfaces, the two-story house resembles an historic bungalow on the outside — blending in seamlessly with surrounding houses — but inside, its clean lines and spare elegance paint a different picture.

The architect's quest to build an Ybor City home began in 2000, when he began purchasing land and developing small condominium buildings in the historic district. After constructing two developments and living in one, Dobson — who works at RBK, an architecture firm in Ybor — decided that he wanted his own, detached space: a home with surrounding room for a small yard. Snagging an empty lot south of Seventh Avenue, he built from the ground up, taking the opportunity to incorporate a few distinctive design features that set the home apart.

A high-ceilinged living room serves as a minimal backdrop for Dobson's bright acrylic paintings, a hobby the architect is devoted to but humble about. Polished concrete floors and sleek furnishings in black and white, including two iconic chairs by Bauhaus architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer, leave the room's visual focus on the artworks — celestial compositions in liquid blues. A staircase leading up to the second floor combines a raw steel beam and slender wooden treads. Hoisting the beam with a boat winch to build the staircase, which Dobson fabricated himself, was one of the hardest things he's ever done, he says.

Like many of the historic district's residents, Dobson touts Ybor's potential and present reality as a walkable community with live-work appeal. By building in the historic district and contributing to its renewal, he aims to "put his money where his mouth is."

"Ybor just needs residents, and the more the people want to live here — the more stuff will get built," he says.