Homefront - May 2004

By staff May 1, 2004

Luxurious Outdoor Living

Brian Phipps, president of A. Phipps Design, and his wife Laurel, owner of Laurel Phipps Interiors, have designed many upscale homes on Longboat Key and in the Sarasota area, as well as in Palm Beach and Naples. So Phipps knows what he's talking about when he says that outdoor living spaces have become more elaborate than ever before.

"The most outstanding designs are those that invite indoor living areas to flow easily outdoors," says Phipps. "This seamless integration of spaces is accomplished through the use of elegant disappearing sliders, French doors, aquarium glass and other design elements."

Phipps also incorporates weather-resistant materials such as stone flooring, cypress ceiling treatments, non-corrosive metals and mildew-proof upholsteries to keep outdoor living areas looking their best over time.

The Big Outdoors

Many of today's upscale homes have formal, imposing entryways, but Michelle Hazeltine, vice president of Hazeltine Nurseries, has fun with the back of the house. The "backyards" that Hazeltine designs, however, are a far cry from the little asphalt patio and grill of yesteryear.

"More entertainment is being done outside in unscreened areas," she says, "and we're seeing total outdoor living spaces."

One client recently requested a 400-square-foot shell stone outdoor kitchen with a double sink, refrigerator, ice-maker, smoker, fireplace and grill. Many clients theme their outdoor kitchens to their houses, she says; people who own Mediterranean houses like the way brick pizza ovens look in their summer kitchens, while Key West houses do well with a more casual arbor look.

Home owners are also going for teak furniture, and are installing volleyball and bocce ball courts. "It's just a place to hang out in," says Hazeltine.

Swimming Freestyle

Bill Cassels, president of Freestyle Pools & Spas, has noticed an interesting phenomenon lately as he's been installing pools: No one wants white plaster or mauve tiles anymore. Now discerning clients are agog for natural water features such as Rico Rock, a brand of artificial rocks that resembles materials quarried from the earth. And white plaster is often replaced by plaster that resembles a fudge brownie, says Cassels.

"All combined, we're getting an environment that's more swimming hole than old Roman bath," says Cassels. When combining the look with in-deck planters and low-level lighting, Cassels says they can create "amazing nightscapes."

Coming to a Verandah Near You

In tropical Sarasota, palm blade fans have been a popular indoor option for years. If you've yearned for that carefree island look outdoors, take heart: Franklin Lighting manager Karen Clark is offering clients the new Mandalay fan, which uses all-weather blades and stainless steel hardware. The fan is U.L. listed for wet locations, says Clark, and is available in either Bahama beige or flat white, with an integrated 50- watt halogen downlight. There's also a full-function wall- mount touch-control system for three-speed fan operation and full-range light control.

Think Aqua

Beiges and taupes, beware: For a few years now, designers have been talking about how safe-and-standard neutrals were on their way out, and Gary Ficht of Pedler's Interiors says he's certainly seeing the proof in new fabrics.

The color of the moment, says Ficht, is aqua, which he's observed popping up on wallpapers and painted furniture. Deep chocolate, which is being paired with aqua, green and orange, is also hip and hot. The chocolate is usually dark, almost black, contrasting beautifully with bright colors.

Ficht says most such trends take several years to trickle down to the public from the time the designers first unveil them. While aquas were shown about three or four years ago, the public has just begun to embrace the bright, happy hue.

The Siesta Key Lifestyle [have requested art]

For everyone eager to find a home amidst swaying palms and the casual lifestyle of Siesta Key, a new option will be available soon. The Snavely Development Company will begin construction in October on Summer Cove on Siesta, a gracious and refined condominium set in lush tropical landscaping close to Siesta Key Village.

The gated community of 45 residences will have a unique Florida design and spectacular bay views. Spacious three- and four-bedroom units will offer large terraces, expansive windows, granite countertops and hardwood cabinetry, while amenities include a resort-style swimming pool, kayak/canoe launch and fully equipped fitness center. Prices will start in the mid $700,000s, and the development is expected to debut in 2006.

Downtown at the Savoy

Downtown enthusiasts who want a chic, big-city feel to their new home are flocking to The Savoy on Palm; and by early March, a month before groundbreaking, half of the 24 units had already been snapped up.

"It's a very sophisticated, contemporary, urban type of building," says Liz Breuer, president of managing partner P. Wallenberg Development. "It appeals to people from big cities used to downtown living, and our location sets us apart from the competition."

Located on the residential end of Palm Avenue, the condominiums will have wonderful bay and city views from their balconies and from the rooftop terrace without an incessant traffic roar. The Savoy features Art Deco touches subtly reminiscent of South Beach. A lap pool, guest suite, two-car enclosed garage, and private walkway to Burns Court round out the amenities.

The 22 units are 2,975 square feet to 3,600 square feet, and the remaining penthouse is 5,700 square feet. Units range from $1 million to $3.4 million.

University Park Spiffs up Golf Course

Good news for golfers: University Park Country Club Golf Course has wrapped up the second phase of a project to renourish and upgrade all 27 holes of its championship golf course. Having just opened the second nine holes for play following their revitalization this summer, University Park has now completed 18 of the 27 holes.

The revitalization project, which began in early 2003, included laser leveling and enlarging many of the tees, as well as reshaping and contouring the greens, then regrassing them with premium TifEagle Ultradwarf hybrid grass. The project was segmented into three phases to allow for a full 18 holes of play at all times, with only one nine hole section closed off in the summer for the work.

"It is a great source of satisfaction to be able to consistently offer homes that capture incredible golf course vistas and the first-class golfing lifestyle that complements them," says Pat Neal, president of Neal Communities and co-developer of University Park. 

Green Schools

For 34 years, Neal Communities has created communities that coexist with Florida nature and the environment. Now Charlie Waters, Neal's in-house land development manager, is turning his attention to something a little different: Manatee County's Stewart Elementary School.

Waters will help the school devise a Florida-friendly landscape plan and construct an addition without destroying many existing trees. He'll work with the school's landscape architect to clear unhealthy trees, add new native plants and protect and improve a quarter-acre gopher tortoise habitat.

Says Pat Neal, president of Neal Communities, "We are very proactive about saving our precious, established trees whenever possible, not just on our own properties, but everywhere."

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