One look at this transformation of two dated Siesta Key condominium units into one distinctly 21st-century vacation home and you may not be surprised to learn that the owner manufactures precision instruments.
Sleek and spare, with an abundance of wood, steel and concrete, the project is the result of combining two corner units on the 15th floor of The Terrace, the iconic condominium tower that hovers over a broad stretch of beachfront at the western end of Siesta Village.
Earlier this summer, it earned for Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture an Honor Award of Excellence in Interior Design from the AIA Florida/Caribbean chapter, one of only two projects in the state to do so. The Sarasota architecture firm designed, built and furnished the combined condominium for a couple who vacation here often from Chicago, where he is a senior executive with a global precision instrument manufacturing company.
Frank Folsom Smith, the architect who, in 1969, designed the 17-story Terrace—then, and now, the tallest building in unincorporated Sarasota County—calls it “far more than a renovation; it’s a reconception.”
We can’t disagree. Architect Michael Halflants removed all the interior walls to combine the units into one flowing 2,365-square-foot space, then created a central core housing a kitchen, storage area, enormous walk-in closet and master bath—all clad in a handsome reddish-brown African wood called Etimoe. To separate the master suite from the living room, kitchen and second bedroom, he devised 10-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling folding partitions—Etimoe wood on one side, steel on the other. Now the owners can have their privacy when family visits, or when one wants to watch TV or work at the custom steel desk Halflants designed while the other reads in bed.
To maximize the stunning views that stretch down Siesta Beach all the way to Casey Key on the public side of the condo and, on the master bedroom side, up Sarasota Bay to the Ringling Causeway, Halflants replaced the existing sliding glass doors with a series of floor-to-ceiling, seven-panel bi-fold glass doors that completely open up the condo to the elements at its corners. (When not needed, automated window shades tuck behind a narrow steel soffit that runs along the roofline.)
One key element, “the main design challenge,” says Halflants, was the height of the ceilings, or rather the lack of height; after all, seven-foot ceilings were ubiquitous in homes of the 1960s and ’70s. When he scraped back the original popcorn ceiling to expose the original concrete, then added a clear-coat finish for a reflective sheen, he and the owners agreed that it became a design asset that contrasts nicely with the warm wood, rather than a liability.
To further the feeling of uninterrupted space, the architects chose 30-by-30-inch gray porcelain tiles throughout that mimic concrete, and contemporary furniture in neutral tones, including a lounge chair by Poul Kjaerholm, a B&B Italia couch by Antonio Citterio and a swivel chair by Jeffrey Bernett.
The homeowners—who had been visiting his extended snowbird family on Siesta Key for more than 40 years—were so pleased with their new vacation home that they hired Halflants and Pichette to redesign a smaller unit below theirs for the husband’s mother. It’s also modern, but with softer colors and decor. And they were so inspired by the result that they recently bought a four-story contemporary home in Chicago, a major departure from the traditional home it replaced. “I learned so much from Michael,” says the wife, “and really came to appreciate modern design.”
The project was a little bit life-changing. “My mother-in-law and I agree that when we return to our other homes,” she says, “they feel very cluttered.”
Michael Halflants, Design Principal
John Pichette, Contractor and Principal-in-Charge
David Morrison, Project Manager