A devoted amateur decorator, Leisa Tobler regularly visits MyHomeIdeas to get design ideas. When she noticed the Idea House Giveaway, she entered on a whim. "I entered not really thinking I'd win. I have entered many sweepstakes and contests in the past, but until now, the most I had won was a $500 shopping spree to a department store years ago," she says. The location of the house had special resonance for her and her family. Although they currently reside in Maryland (near the Air Force base where her husband is stationed), Leisa Tobler actually grew up in the Florida panhandle and has long dreamt of returning to the area. With its beautiful beaches and laid-back lifestyle, it holds many special memories for both Leisa and her husband.
"After so many years of moving around the country with the military, MyHomeIdeas has secured our dream of returning to the Florida beaches I call home," she says.
We checked in with Leisa to find out more about her family and their plans for the house at WindMark Beach.
MyHomeIdeas (MHI): We understand you grew up in the Florida Panhandle, near the location of the house. What does that area mean to you and your family?
Leisa Tobler (LT): I moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, with my family when I was 12. All of my family―my parents, brother, sister, and their families -- still live there.
At the age of 23, I met a young Air Force lieutenant named Rob who was stationed at a base nearby. One year later, we married and started moving all over the country (and the world) with the military. We try to return to the Panhandle as often as we can, and we really hope our children will create many of their own Gulf Coast memories.
Our dream has always been to return to the Northwest Florida once my husband retires, but we weren’t quite sure how we would make that happen. Now, 15 years later, Rob’s retirement is only a few short years away, and winning this wonderful home will make that dream come true!
MHI: What did you love most about the house from what you saw of it on MyHomeIdeas?
LT: What I love most about the home is that it remains true to that Old Florida cottage style. It’s comfy, casual, and inviting -- with a refined, sophisticated flair. I love the fun, bold use of color in all the rooms: Each bedroom has its own personality. I love that the home feels like it was made for a family to come and enjoy their time at the beach, but most of all, enjoy each other within the space.
But if I had to choose one spot as my favorite -- well, I will have to pick two (because my little girl has voiced her opinion as well.) I simply cannot wait to fall into the daybed swing on the front porch. I can see us at sunset -- my kids and me -- all curled up with a great bedtime read and that sweet Gulf breeze rocking us gently into the night. I can see our dog running back and forth on the dog trot -- barking “hello” to a passersby. I can see my husband and me at sunrise with our morning cups of joe -- savoring a peaceful moment alone before the children charge through the porch on their way to the beach.
My 4 year old daughter, on the other hand, tells everyone -- her grandmother, her best friend, the lady at the bank -- that she has the cutest pink bed you ever saw and a sweet little girl living room in her new beach house that is in Florida…and that is where Nana and Pops live!
MHI: How do you plan to use the house?
LT: We plan to return to Florida when Rob retires, but he still has three to four years left in the military before that can happen. So, we think it would be a lovely idea to keep the Idea House as our vacation home. Our three childrens’ birthdays are in August, and they are already requesting to celebrate them in the beach house each year. I love that!
Because the home will be empty for part of the year, we think this will be a wonderful opportunity to introduce others to all the treasures of the Forgotten Coast. It is truly amazing here -- miles of pristine shoreline, abundant wildlife, and some of the best fishing and scalloping in the world! The town of Port St. Joe is friendly and seemingly untouched by time. The WindMark Beach community seems to truly enhance the natural Florida landscape rather than competing with it. (I can’t wait to see it in person!)
I think staying here will feel like a true get-away-from-it-all vacation. Enjoying the Old Florida charm in a beach cottage that truly does (to quote your Web site) “knock your sandals off” is likely to be an experience no one could forget. I can’t wait to create many family memories here, and I look forward to welcoming other families and friends to come do the same!
To follow the Tobler family’s progress and their experiences in the MyHomeIdeas WindMark Beach Idea House, visit Leisa’s blog, Idea Mom.