By staff October 1, 2007

Ever wonder where designers shop to furnish the multimillion dollar homes in this town? We did, and we found sources both global and national right at our door. Though some are only accessible with an interior designer, others do welcome the public, even providing free decorating advice as you browse.

As we sleuthed we encountered designers from Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans secretly sourcing here and uncovered local firms who supply retailers across the country. Sarasota may not have a formal design district, but scattered through the city amazing treasures abound.

Under the Radar Renowned designer (and former Sarasota resident) Carleton Varney quietly warehouses his exquisite fabric line here. But you’ll need a designer to see the eye-popping prints, many of them design doyenne Dorothy Draper’s originals. Carleton Varney by the Yard, 2239 15th St., Sarasota (941) 953-6986.

Bring Home the Bacon You can buy the same chairs, fabrics and trim that the country’s most upscale stores, catalogues and designers do, now that Bacon & Wing has expanded its trade-only showroom to a new retail shop with full design services. Bacon & Wing, 1555 Fruitville Road, Sarasota (941) 366-0635.

Trade Secret No one can touch Steven Postan’s prices or selection of antique English furniture and grandfather clocks ($3,000 to $12,000). A-list antiques dealers across the country snap up new arrivals on his Web site; designers fly in to scout new finds. Steven Postan Antiques, 7881 15th St. E., Sarasota (941) 755-6063.

Champagne Wishes come true for designers who come from as far as Atlanta to save big-time on showroom-quality furniture that owners Pam and Marcus Anast make at their factory in Peru (and will design for consumers, too). Sarasota Collection Home Store, 622 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 955-8313.

Treasure Chest Designers scour this glorified junkyard inside and out for architectural elements (the salvaged doors, gates and windows are to die for) that add a lot of character with a little elbow grease. Sarasota Architectural Salvage, 1093 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 362-0803.

Jiffy Lube? With LUBE Italian cabinetry, designers transform ordinary kitchens into Euro-style wonders in a heartbeat ($30,000 to $200,000). Owner Jim Bridges and partners in LUBE USA plan a network of U.S. showrooms. LUBE of Sarasota, 2628 17th St., Sarasota (941) 954-0200.

British Revival When Paul Maitland-Smith sold his eponymous furniture company, the talented Brit opened Theodore Alexander, an instant hit with designers who shop here for value and exclusive selection; you can, too. Design Impressions Gallery, 33 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 373-9660.

Family Affair Maurice and Vanessa Opstel are first in the U.S. to retail eco-chic Box Furniture (now in 32 countries). It’s designed by their brother and sister-in-law, Marcel Opstel and Maya Basyroel. Box Furniture Boutique, 1417 First St., Sarasota (941) 366-8164.

Rugs As Art has trade lines like Tufenkian and Schumacher and treats consumers the way showrooms do designers: They’ll let you try any rug for size and color in your home. 6650 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-1900.

Map Quest leads designers all along the Suncoast to this gallery with antique maps, botanical and marine life prints displayed by category and ready for artisan-quality framing. William Hartman Gallery, 48 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 955-4785.

-- AlliKriste has the hottest designer kitchen lines by Wm Ohs and SieMatic, usually found in trade-only showrooms. AlliKriste, 9126 Town Center Parkway, Lakewood Ranch (941) 388-9696.

-- Designers stop by Blue Moon Antiques far more often than the name implies; new arrivals sell out instantly in their West Palm Beach and Sarasota stores. Blue Moon on Pineapple, 134 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota (941) 365-0978.

-- Check out dkVogue for the most comprehensive selection of mid-century Danish iconic design in the country (except for their New York showroom). dkVogue, 1549 State St., Sarasota (941) 955-2600.

-- Open to consumers Saturdays only, Las Antiguas antiques gallery is the source for designers from Miami and throughout the South. Las Antiguas, Inc., 1525 First St., Sarasota (941) 349-3200.

-- You won’t have to leave town to see the same carpets, fabrics and wall coverings as major metropolitan Stark showrooms display, but you’ll need a designer to get you into Designer’s Source of Sarasota 1785 Northgate Blvd., Sarasota (941) 955-4609.

-- Designers flock to Loom Inc. for custom broadloom and area rugs, meticulously ordered to their specs by owner Donald Attanas, whose incredible works of art are sold to the trade. Loom, Inc., 1681 11th St., Sarasota (941) 365-3346.

--Head to Robb & Stucky for furniture by celebrated designers from Barbara Barry to Alexa Hampton, Thomas O’Brien for Hickory Chair and more. 7557 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 922-2274.

Vase Off

Who needs flowers with containers like these?

A Cut Above Faceted with the depth of a gemstone, the Gema vase ($1,775 ) is completely cut by hand by Moser Czech Crystal’s old-world artisans to reveal two distinct colors. Ashley Avery’s, 1425 First St., Sarasota (941) 955-9593.

Flower Power Individually sculpted porcelain blossoms adorn this vase (two sizes; $80 and $70) from Murval, a Parisian source that’s the darling of design magazines on both sides of the pond. Envie, 1411 First St., Sarasota (941) 366-7027.

Cutting Edge Modern art for the table, glass vases in myriad patterns and colors ($199) are hand blown in Murano, hand picked and guaranteed to be one of a kind at i tesori, San Marco Plaza, Lakewood Ranch (941) 907-9296.

Gardener’s Eden With hand-etching as fine as Queen Anne’s lace, the Elise Symphony vase collection by artist Michael Weems is priced from $238 to $1,600 for a limited edition. Annabelle’s, 8130 Main St., Lakewood Ranch (941) 782-0918.

Different Stripes Brilliant color and clear frosted bands convert a centuries-old shape into a contemporary limited-edition work of art glass ($525) from the California studios of the Correia family. Mayors Jewelers, 119 Southgate Plaza, Sarasota (941) 952-1945.

Deco Garden The color and images of a squirrel, egret and pheasant are one-of-a-kind decorations on this Cowan American art pottery vase of the art deco period ($1,200). Jack Vinales Antiques, 539 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota (941) 957-0002.

Who’s in Store?

The pages of Casa Vogue come to life at i tesori, where Anthony Vento presides over a cleverly edited selection of the best in Italian design. With lighting from Murano’s superstar glass artists, hand-crafted intarsia tables from Sorrento, and umbrellas with silver handles as delicate as Florentine jewelry, the store shines brilliantly in ever-so-aptly named San Marco Plaza at Lakewood Ranch.

“The artist calls herself The Lady from Venice,” says Vento of the designer of the boutique’s well-priced one-off Murano glass jewelry. He and partners Paul Matijak-Sanelli and Peter Anzalotti scoured Italy for a taste of everything from authentic Byzantine-inspired Fortuny lamps to the hottest leather furniture in Milan.

Vento, former print creative director of Macy’s San Francisco, and his partners all have strong retail backgrounds. “Sarasota has everything,” he says. “But we think it needs a destination store that is pure Italian: clean, modern, and big-European city in feel.”

Orange Crush Who wouldn’t fall in love with Barovier & Toso’s sun-kissed Murano glass and crystal chandelier? It’s called Izmir, and it’s hip and Turkish-inspired.

Under the Tuscan Sun These bring sunshine and smiles with hand-crafted silver handles (each is different) and painterly prints to choose from ($95).

Villa Style Planters here are one-of-a-kind with custom finishes exclusive to the store, including this one with its Garden of Finzi-Contini-style verdigris glaze ($227).

i tesori, San Marco Plaza, Lakewood Ranch (941) 907-9296.


Saks’ Scent Saks Fifth Avenue has teamed up with perfumer Bond No. 9 New York to launch its own custom scent, sold in the Sarasota store, with a full range of quixotic perfumes inspired by New York neighborhoods from the Bowery to Broadway. Saks Fifth Avenue, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 364-5300.

Made to Measure Check out Decorating Resource’s spacious new digs brimming with decorator fabrics, wall coverings, window treatments, and luscious sofas and chairs custom measured to fit the owner’s body: No customer is too big or too small. Decorating Resources, 7488 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 923-6587.

Lights, Camera, get ready for action at Light Up Your Life’s chic new showroom, just expanded from 2,000 to 6,000 feet. Owner Susan Inderbinen now displays even more hot European lighting and accessories from coffee tables to salad bowls. Light Up Your Life, 1620 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 330-0442.

Viva Vietri A new starfish-encrusted dinnerware pattern called Sabbia (Italian for sand) has been launched by Vietri in brilliant new shapes from seashells to fish (even a crab-shaped bowl). At Ashley Avery’s, 1425 First St., Sarasota (941) 955-9593; and Annabelle’s, 8130 Main St., Lakewood Ranch (941) 782-0918.

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