Homefront - November 2006

By staff November 1, 2006

Danish Invasion

It’s been almost a year since dkVogue opened, bringing modern, authentic Danish furnishings, lighting and accessories to Sarasota. And the store has already made quite an impression on both the local and national scene, thanks to owner Kim Nielsen’s pairing of luxury service with world-class furnishings.

In two locations—downtown Sarasota and Southside Village—dkVogue’s Danish-designed pieces attract both the artistically minded and those who appreciate function as well as form. Many of dkVogue’s items are handcrafted, and all have been produced by their original manufacturers in Denmark before making their way to Florida. In fact, dkVogue’s Sarasota showrooms are the largest display of authentic Danish designs in the U.S. Many of the same designs can be seen in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and other prominent locales throughout the world.

Big Time

Sarasota’s own Rugs as Art received the 2006 Rug Retailer of the Year award in the Home Décor Store category, presented during the Atlanta International Area Rug Market. Judges praised Rugs as Art’s “well kept and superior assortment of top-quality rugs and decorative accessories.” Owners John and Lucy Murse were touted as the “jewels of the area rug industry” and recognized for their commitment “to excellence as demonstrated by their employees and reported by their customers.” The Retailer of the Year awards are based on nominations by suppliers and chosen by an independent panel of industry experts.

What bubble?

Soft market? Not in the ultra-high end of custom luxury homes, according to Jeff Birnbach, president of Collingwood Construction Group. The luxury homebuilder is currently building 12 custom estates and Gulf-front residences for private clients, with a combined value in excess of $95 million. Birnbach sees no downturn through 2007. “Our clients continue to acquire very unique home sites and want to build special custom residences,” he says.

Beautiful Home

In honor of Art Center Sarasota’s 80th anniversary, SKY Sotheby’s International Realty, The Ritz-Carlton Members Club, Saks Fifth Avenue, James Fraser and artist Elizabeth Van Riper are presenting a new-home preview Nov. 10 and 11 to raise funds for Sarasota’s oldest cultural organization. The “Aesthetic Living Showcase” will take place at Siesta Key’s beautiful Villa Bella and will include fine art and other items for sale. Proceeds will benefit Art Center Sarasota.

Checking Out

Home watch services are “starting to take hold here in Sarasota,” says Susan Robinson of Key Concierge. Still, “We like to think of ourselves as the premier one.” That’s why Robinson feels a responsibility to advise second-home owners and part-time residents on the best ways to choose who will watch their home while they’re away.

Homeowners may feel more at ease, for instance, with a concierge service that has been in business for a while, which indicates that it has earned a level of trust in the community, and that the company has “figured out how to make a living at this business and therefore won’t pack it up a year from now.” Robinson recommends gathering a list of details from potential home watch services, including the number of staff and emergency plans, how keys and sub-contractors are handled, the frequency and methods for communicating with the homeowners and, of course, references.

“A professional home-watch service can save the homeowner a lot of trouble and money, too,” Robinson adds. Problems with pools, air conditioning or landscaping, for example, can be caught and corrected early, and insurance companies often offer discounts to absentee homeowners who employ a home watch service.

Buyers Beguiled

Staging a home is even more important in today’s buyer’s market, says Marie Monsky of Re/Max Properties. “Price is the No. 1 consideration in listing a home, and then presentation of your product is the next most important consideration,” she says. “Homes with furnishings always sell faster than those that are vacant.” If the furniture has already been moved, Monsky advises sellers to consider investing in rented furniture, which will promote a better offer “as the competition for a buyer’s attention continues to escalate.

“Little things such as towels and colorful bottles in a bathroom, fancy oils on the kitchen counters and flower arrangements in the entryway are just some of the touches that will make the residence feel cozy and welcoming,” says Monsky.

Come One, Come All

Whether you’re an interior designer or simply in the market for exquisite home furnishings, the recently opened International Design Center (IDC) in Estero provides the ultimate resource for interior design furnishings and accessories.

The International Design Center welcomes designers, architects and their clients—as well as do-it-yourselfers and homeowners in search of a designer—to the two dozen retail showrooms located on the first floor. Open-to-the-public retailers include Baker, Mobelform, Murano Glass, Pierre Deux, Ann Sacks, Francesco Molon, Stickley and Waterworks.

And for those in the market for an expert, the IDC’s “Designer on Call” program presents award-winning interior designers from throughout the region. For consumers seeking access to trade-exclusive showrooms or a qualified referral to an interior designer, Designer on Call is a complimentary service providing referrals, consultations and designer-assisted shopping.

Closing Time

MCZ/CENTRUM Development’s Serenata-Sarasota is already a big hit with its residents, who began moving in this summer. Attracting new homeowners with an appealing mix of new-construction condominiums, central location and reasonable prices, the development proudly cites testimony from new Serenatans who say that their current monthly outlays are comparable to rental units of the same size. With closings expected to complete by January 2007, the community clubhouse has already hosted successful events, including a Sarasota Chamber of Commerce networking function. Located west of I-75 at University Parkway and Tuttle Avenue, Serenata-Sarasota’s 240 units range from 731 to 1,372 square feet and start in the $170s.

On With the Show

Selby Gardens and the Mayor’s Feed the Hungry program. The new waterfront home in downtown Sarasota’s Hudson Bayou neighborhood is open to the public through Nov. 17. For information, call 907-0562.

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