Tucked away on the western side of Lake Mary, Florida, is the Magnolia Plantation gated community, a vaguely clover-shaped series of streets around a golf course, carved out of the surrounding Wekiva Forest. Among the tall trees sits a particularly noteworthy home, stucco-colored with a fountain out front and dark brick covering the driveway. The whole tableau looks to have been plucked straight from the south of Spain, until you step inside—and that juxtaposition is exactly what Jorge Ulibarri was aiming for when he built the place.
With design, architecture, and civil engineering all in his wheelhouse of skills, Jorge Ulibarri is a veritable triple threat in north-central Florida’s homebuilding industry. So, it’s little surprise that, after working on commercial construction and multifamily units for years, he has found great success in the past decade with his own company. “I knew what I wanted to do; I knew what I enjoyed,” he says of his decision to launch Cornerstone Custom Construction. “And I also thought that I could bring something different to the table.”
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The single-family Magnolia Plantation home is one of Ulibarri’s latest efforts to create “something different.” His client offered few specifics except that he wanted something in the Modern Mediterranean vein—a style entailing Spanish Mediterranean exterior elements and an old-meets-new look inside. “This is something that’s become very popular,” Ulibarri says. “So, I wasn’t reinventing the wheel, but it was something that was a little out of my comfort zone in the sense that I’d never done it.”
Ulibarri’s “comfort zone” is in line with the Spanish Mediterranean part of the home’s style, but not the modern mix. He quickly determined that balance and proportion were key to the look that both he and his client were going for.
“It needed to be an Old World house with a few modern accents; it couldn’t pull in one direction too much,” Ulibarri says. “So, I created a rustic canvas for the main body of the house—floors, beams, and walls. Instead of using a lot of rustic parts and pieces, I brought in the main players.” Once that was accomplished, he turned his attention to the modern interior features.
The finished home includes an earthen color palette, polished marble, stainless steel, glass mosaics, and accent LED lighting surrounding standout features such as a winding foyer staircase in the tower entry, a floor-to-ceiling fireplace in the great room, and a linear, resort-style pool ideal for either fitness or entertainment.
Ulibarri helped narrow down the choices for the home’s features because, he explains, there’s a “fear factor” that creeps in when clients have too many decisions to make. The homeowner, who’d studied the work of Cornerstone and trusted Ulibarri, was only too happy to let him lead the way in making the residence distinctive.
“My style of homes has been very successful—Old World, lots of rustic elements, wood, stone, wrought iron, and architecturally rich,” Ulibarri says. “There’s always so much to look at in the bones; there’s just not a lot of decorating needed.”