A Space for Art

By staff November 1, 2002

Marsha and Michael Svirksy of Sarasota wanted to transform their eight-year-old Laurel Oak pool home into a soothing space showcasing a fine art collection with an infusion of influences from around the world. But how does one accomplish a clean, contemporary look in a typical country club ranch?

Visual inspiration came from Ann Rooney Heuer's Creating A Peaceful Home, with full-color photographs of interiors that successfully combine the minimalism of the East with the warmth of the West. The Svirskys envisioned their travel souvenirs as accessories: clay sculpture from Papua, New Guinea, photos taken in Africa, American art glass, bronze figurines from India and fabulous pieces of Chinese art from the Han period. Their beautiful English oak and American Pennsylvania antiques brought down from New York had to be juxtaposed-somehow-with the sophisticated simplicity of bamboo cabinets and Italian granite. They just needed the imagination and expertise of a designer who could make it all work.

Jytte Winslow-Mandle of Winslow-Wallace Interiors felt an immediate connection with the Svirskys and invited them to see her own home. "This couple had already interviewed six or seven designers," says Winslow-Mandle, "but they loved my home and talked to me about what they wished to achieve. We decided to start with their art pieces and antiques and create from there. And we certainly knew what we did not want. The first time I saw the house, I could not believe the ugliness. A lot had to go." The existing kitchen's orange laminate cabinets, peachy Formica and creamsicle floor tile gave way to gleaming white cabinetry, Santa Cecilia granite counters and European white oak flooring, planked on the diagonal to fuse kitchen and family room. Top-of-the line appliances, a wine cabinet and backsplash of tumbled marble with granite insets completed a masterful kitchen redo.

The family room's awkward storage closet was reconfigured into an elegant powder room and, a bit further down the hall, a handsome bar was added. Tiny dysfunctional windows were elongated and patio sliders replaced by striking French doors. Traditional fireplace and surround were transformed into a unique built-in bookcase with a state-of-the-art flat screen television mounted where logs once flickered on a grate. "We covered the fireplace because the Svirskys simply did not wish to use it," explains Winslow-Mandle. "But the wall could be reopened and the fireplace used again, should anyone have a change of heart."

An innovative floating cabinet supports art pieces and doubles as a smart buffet. Handmade wooden pillars with carved crescents support a five-foot square of beveled glass that serves as the Svirskys' coffee table. A Nancy Corzine sofa in soft beige is flanked with twin chairs covered in tawny silk. A tan Stark rug, Italian amber lights and breakfast table in rich walnut keep to the subtle color scheme. Barstools are upholstered in butter suede, and needlepoint pillows line an antique wooden bench. Everywhere are pleasing textures and a quiet repetition of line and shade, imbuing the space with serenity.

"The Svirskys wanted a room suitable for company and conversation," says Winslow-Mandle. "Everything just came together so smoothly, one can immediately sense that this home is tailored for them. And that's what counts."


Custom cabinetry by Yasen Cabinets

Oak floors by International Wood Floors

Kitchen cabinets by Contemporary Kitchen & Cabinetry

Granite counters and backsplash by European Marble

Fabrics and floor coverings by Designer Resource

Plantation shutters by The Shutter Shop 

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