Homefront - January 2002

By staff January 1, 2002

What's New in the Home

"America's pastime is shifting to entertainment that brings the family together inside the home, where the only things missing are the crowds, the pricey refreshments and the sticky floors," says Thomas Bible, marketing manager for Florida Home Theater (FHT). Bible says that whether your passion is sports, movies or music, technology has evolved to deliver sights and sounds that are larger than life.

"We deliver home-based technologies that combine stunning digital video and audio with impressive depth and clarity," says Bible. "With the advent of DVD, digital high-definition TV, and Dolby DTS Surround, home theaters have grown to rival the big screen, so it's no wonder we've become an integral part of the luxury custom home market."

Karen Clark, manager of Franklin Lighting, says a trend she sees for 2002 is that baths are becoming more elegant, not only in regard to the bath fixtures but the lighting fixtures as well. "Choices in bath lighting are no longer restricted to chrome or brass," says Clark. "Our new styles in bath lighting come in finishes that mimic ancient stone, burled walnut, carved ivory or verde bronze. They are intricate in detail and their finishes are deep, multi-step processes that provide a rich, subtle appearance." Glass shading is also new and improved, says Clark, being done in alabaster, scavo or etched marble glass.

Robb & Stucky licensed interior designer Jacqueline Cantwell is spreading the news that "The British are coming!" but this time it's a good thing and a definite trend for the New Year. "Classic British Colonial style has made a strong impact on Sarasota," says Cantwell. "Rich mahogany wood tones paired with textural upholstery make a soothing contrast to Florida's bright light. A touch of rattan, perhaps a planter's chair, adds romance, as does a palette of sage and khaki, spiced with terra cotta and earth tones that range from paprika to mango." For floors, Cantwell suggests "fine area carpets over wood or tile." Sisal-look nylon or wool broadloom gives bedrooms a clean, organized look. "Complete the design with sophisticated botanicals and palm prints and you've got authentic British Colonial style," she says.

Good Neighbors

Neighboring Towles Court artists Dee Gaylord and husband-and-wife team Cathleen and Stephen Shaw are finding that they share common ground not only physically but also artistically. Dee Gaylord of Gaylord Studio and Gallery ( creates works that especially appeal to art lovers who live in spaces with little wall space and/or lots of glass. Her works-called "Janus Panels"-are two-sided, freestanding pieces within metal stand-alone frameworks, which can be viewed from either side with equal beauty. Sizes vary from large floor pieces to tabletop designs. "They're especially nice on a dining room table," explains Gaylord, "because it gives diners something other than the traditional floral arrangement to look at, plus they're low enough that everyone can still make eye contact while they're conversing."

The Shaws, owners of the Copperleaf Gallery (, are collaborating with Gaylord Galleries on some very special works that incorporate Cathleen's stained glass works into Janus Panels. Stephen is constructing the panels' metal frames (which can be patined to complement the artwork contained within), and is also designing some unique new furniture that uses the panels in very clever ways. One example is a dining room table, which features an interchangeable panel laid into the center of the surface much like a table runner, but you can change it for fun to coordinate with the seasons or for any reason that strikes your fancy.

You can visit the Towles Court Artist Colony and take a tour of the studios any third Friday of the month from 6 to 10 p.m., or take a virtual tour, meet the artists and read the history of the enclave at

High Point Highs

Lois Ross, ASID, owner of A Step Above Gallery and Interior Design Studio, says these are "the high points from High Point," the big annual autumn design event in North Carolina that brings together buyers and sellers from 50 states and 110 countries. Manufacturers at High Point introduce new products, styles, finishes and concepts in one gigantic 10-million-square-foot showroom and factory space complex. ("Imagine our feet at the end of the week," laughs Ross.)

"This year, the bedroom has evolved into a room that is more functional and more inhabited than the family room," says Ross. "In addition to sleeping there, we watch movies, exercise, talk on the phone, read books and work on computers. From this emerges several styles of comfort: maximalism, minimalism and Romanticism. Whatever the style, the bed is a canvas waiting to be adorned."

Ross also says the market was "definitely leaning toward contemporary. Fabrics are mostly solids in ultra-suede, leather and chenille; the colors are mostly beiges, taupes and greiges (shades of gray) with accents in shades of reds, pumpkins and purples." And the hottest items at High Point? "Lighting, area rugs and, of course, bedding."

Showing Off For Charity

This is the month for the American Society of Interior Designers to showcase the talents of its members at the 2002 Showhouse located at 5022 Bayshore Road. A historic bayfront landmark, the home is a classic Italian-Mediterranean-style home built in the 1920s as a John Ringling project. (Owner is architect Terry Green.) ASID will call attention to the importance of this "Jewel on the Bay" as a part of our community history and, at the same time, offer a financial benefit to area youth through The Boys' and Girls' Clubs as well as scholarships at both Ringling School of Art and Design and at the University of South Florida/Sarasota. The showhouse gala is Jan. 18 and tours run from Jan. 19 through Feb. 17. For additional information you can call 926-2002; Showhouse chairpersons are Gary Ficht, ASID, and Gwendolyn Sears, ASID.

Learning at Lakewood

Lakewood Ranch continues to emerge with more and more opportunities for its residents and those in the surrounding area. The excitement this month includes a groundbreaking for a Manatee Community College (MCC) advanced technology campus, which will offer courses related to corporate training and workforce development in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park. "Being able to offer a Lakewood Ranch location for college-level education to our residents, as well as our businesses, is a tremendous benefit," says Polly Webb, vice president of marketing for SMR Communities. "In fact, it's a great asset for the entire east county region." Lakewood Ranch is also the location for the Keiser College Sarasota campus. In addition, Manatee Technical Institute has opened its educational center for health occupations at the master-planned community.

Young and Carefree

Nina Edmonson, sales consultant for Gibraltar Homes' custom-home maintenance-free community The Vineyards of Silver Oak on the Palmer Ranch, notes a new trend in the maintenance-free market: the "younger" buyer. "Historically, maintenance-free communities have been associated with the more mature retiree," says Edmonson. "Now we are seeing a higher percentage of buyers in their 40s-both couples and single professionals-seeking an upscale home in a maintenance-free setting." Edmondson notes that while this trend has been common in such areas as Palm Beach, it's just beginning in the Sarasota area, thus creating an entire new niche market. What does the younger buyer look for in a maintenance-free community in addition to the obvious perks of freedom from exterior maintenance and yard care? "Amenities," Edmondson replies without hesitation. "They like such features as a clubhouse and fitness center, plus the security of a gated community. The younger buyer selects a home that offers all the bells and whistles of a freestanding upscale custom home."

At Gibraltar Homes' new community Vilamoura in the Country Club at Lakewood Ranch, sales consultants Michael and Joey Hodgson say the company will "continue its tradition of upscale custom-home maintenance-free communities, marking its first appearance with 27 new residences." Vilamoura will feature villa home designs that revive the splendor of the true Italian villa-an Italian home associated with luxurious, spacious, estate-style custom homes once occupied by noted families. The Hodgsons say Gibraltar Homes is seeing a strong demand for "true" detached villa-style homes in the 3,000-square-foot range offering the privilege of maintenance-free lifestyle and the prestige of a private country club setting. Their Vilamoura villas will be on the new Palmer Design golf course and will offer views of the first, 10th and 18th fairways, with each villa just a short walk to the new private country club.

Tax Tips

Penny Hill of Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation says now is the time to plan for next December when it comes to home financing strategies and taxes. By the time clients come to her with their questions at year's end, it's a little late to put things in motion, so plan ahead. Here are some of the most common questions (and Hill's answers):

1. What settlement statement costs are deductible? "The only settlement or closing costs you can deduct are your home mortgage interest, certain points and certain real estate taxes," says Hill.

2. Is interest on a home equity line of credit deductible as a second mortgage? "Yes, but not always, so ask about that going in," she says.

3. Is interest paid on a construction loan for a new home considered deductible mortgage interest? Hill says, "You can treat a home under construction as a home qualifying for the home interest deduction for a period of up to 24 months, but only if it becomes your qualified home at the time it is ready for occupancy."

4. Are mortgage interest and property tax on a second residence deductible? "Real estate taxes paid on your primary and second residence are usually deductible," says Hill. (For even more real estate tax FAQs, Hill suggests checking on line.)

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