Designer Robert Nebolon Finally Meets His Long-Distance Design in Person

Robert Nebolon claimed the winning title of the 2015 HGTV Fresh Face of Design with his innovative design of a floating house. Take a peek inside the home he designed just down the road from HGTV Headquarters before he took home the win.

Robert Nebolon of Robert Nebolon Architects located in Berkeley, Calif., won 2015’s HGTV Fresh Face of Design and traveled to HGTV Headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. as part of his prize package. He spent the day with our editorial team, toured HGTV command centers and had a nice dose of Southern hospitality.

The excitement started bright and early at a midcentury modern home tucked away in the East Tennessee hills. Before winning the 2015 competition, Robert was contacted by some Knoxville locals to design an atomic, ranch-style home right here in town.

Two years after homeowners Scott and Anne selected his midcentury modern design plan, Robert was finally able to meet Scott and see the home finished in all its glory.    

Photo by: Kayla Suazo

Kayla Suazo

“It was thrilling to see the house in person,” says Robert. “It’s nice to actually walk through it, because the architecture is a three dimensional and dynamic experience and not a static one.”

The home drew on inspiration from Robert's midcentury modern design but incorporated modern elements with grand windows, state-of-the-art technology and a clean color palette with pops of teal.

Here's a sneak peak of the MCM gem:

See Robert's Winning Design: A Modern Floating House

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Modern Floating House: View From the Water

The top floor with the public areas (living room, kitchen and dining room) is sheathed in white metal siding. The private areas of the house (bedrooms) are sheathed in blue metal siding. The roof shape is reminiscent of sails on a sailing ship, spiky clouds or even icebergs to some.

Floating House: Front Door

The front door is the same color orange that is used on the nearby Golden Gate Bridge. The kitchen projects out from the house, providing an overhang for the front door.

Floating House: Living Room and Teak Deck

The living room deck stretches the space via double doors when the need arises. The white metal siding clads the entire top floor as a way of indicating the importance of the great room inside. The teak decking is a nice contrast to the Australian Cypress wood flooring inside.

Photo By: Matthew Millman

Floating House: Great Room Looking South

The image shows how the saw-tooth roof design defines the areas underneath in a subtle fashion. The living area, under the first saw-tooth, is in the foreground. The dining area and kitchen are under the second saw-tooth, and the staircase is under the third and final saw-tooth at the rear.

Floating House: Living Room With Water View

The living room has spectacular views of the waterways. The windows extend to the ceiling as a way to increase the airy feeling of the space and to take in as much daylight and view as possible. The low-slung furnishings and cool colors enhance this effect.

Floating House: Great Room and Kitchen

The saw-tooth roof design and the low-slung furniture makes this great room feel open and spacious. Open metal shelves suspended from the kitchen ceiling eliminate wall cabinets--this allows for more windows and a more open feeling everywhere. The open metal work of the pot rack, the windows and the bar stools create a light, airy feeling.

Floating House: Great Room Looking North

The high windows at the saw-tooth roof design bring light into the column/wall-free great room. Light colors and minimal wall decorations make the room feel large and spacious. The large windows stretch the space beyond its physical borders to the views beyond. Light fixtures are of open metal design and work well with the window patterns. The use of wood warms the entire room in a nice appropriate manner.

Floating House: Kitchen With High Ceiling

The kitchen uses cool quiet colors and high windows to make this area feel large and spacious under the saw-tooth ceiling. Open metal shelves and pot-racks are suspended from the ceiling to create an airy feeling that traditional wall cabinets would not provide.

Floating House: Dining Area With Large Window

The dining area features a built-in window seat with storage. The reason is to minimize visual clutter in the great room by reducing free-standing furniture--all to make the room feel larger. Tall windows let natural light into the space and also provide an excellent view. The open metal design of both the windows and the light fixture give a light feeling to the space.

Floating House: Open Metal & Wood Staircase

The open metal and wood staircase is designed to allow light to filter down and through various floors. Also, the openness creates the illusion of space. The orange color is the same paint color used on the nearby Golden Gate Bridge. The same color is used on the front door and accent tile in the kitchen. The spectacular openness "pulls" visitors toward the stairs and up into the great room upstairs.

Photo By: Matthew Millman

Floating House: Master Bedroom

To create additional storage, the master bed is raised to allow for storage underneath; this is called a "Captain's Bed" and is commonly used on boats. A step stool is needed to make the bed accessible.

Floating House: Master Bathroom

Windows, colors and steam-punk detailing make this small master bathroom work. A high window over the sink area allows light to wash across the ceiling. A low window in the shower allows light to wash across the tile floor. Custom-fabricated lighting on fabric-covered power cords (wrapped around painted galvanized iron pipe) works well with the gridded shower stall enclosure. Yellow brightens the mood.

Tiny Modern Floating House on the Water

Surrounded by water, this tiny modern floating house glows at night thanks to the full-length windows and sliding glass doors.

Photo By: Matthew Millman

Modern Floating House: Water View at Twilight

This floating community has 20 floating homes, of which this floating home is a part. The houses are in various styles and different ages. The swan paddle boat is one of the ways the owners get around on the water.

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