By staff February 1, 2007


Prospective buyers and house-watchers alike enjoyed a break from the ordinary on Jan. 25, as Peregrine Homes opened the doors to its new English manor estate home in Lakewood Ranch’s newest and most sought-after neighborhood, The Lake Club. The 8,371-square-foot Brighton model eschews Florida’s typical Med-Rev architecture for a style more likely to be found in the British countryside. Featuring four bedrooms, three full and two half baths, an open wet bar, media room and fully appointed his-and-hers studies, the Brighton’s traditional architecture sits alongside scenic waterfront and plush landscaping.

To see the Brighton and other Lake Club models, check out The Lake Club Experience, running through April 14. The 10-week series highlights luxury homes with a collective value of nearly $30 million. Each week, a different Lake Club “Showcase Home” takes the spotlight, hosting open houses that offer wine tastings, insight into the environmental features of the home, appliance demonstrations and more. The Brighton is set to take center stage during the week of March 18.

THE LITTLE THINGS When pondering how to make your Florida house a home without spending a fortune, take into consideration the simple pleasures that personalize it, says Barbara Gardner, president of Collins Interiors: “Think great linens, fresh flowers, scented candles, edited accessories in odd numbers arranged on beds, sofas or tables, good tunes, cloth napkins and simple window treatments open to the Sarasota sunshine.”

As for color, Gardner says, “Things that looked great when we lived up North don’t necessarily work here. That means we should look at different versions of the colors we’ve always loved.” Consider hues of jovial yellow, sky blue or even aqua. “Aqua is back, and it’s terrific paired with lime green or a warm caramel color,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit with new colors using inexpensive accessories. If they don’t work out, you can recycle them.”

INSIDE OUT As people these days spend more time in their homes—and especially in their yards—outdoor rooms are the design trend of the moment, says Debbie Ross of ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design. Outdoor rooms have all the elements of an inside room—including walls, roof and floor—but an outdoor room doesn’t have to be so grandly scaled. “It can be as simple as an outdoor grill, a table and chairs, an umbrella for the sun and some lighting for the evening,” says Ross. “Or a lavish outdoor room may include a pool, a full outdoor kitchen, a fire pit and lighting. You may even want to add a water feature such as a fountain, pond or waterfall.”

Hardscape elements may include patios, a pergola, walls (for privacy, seating or retaining), trellises, arbors, a spa or pool, water features, a fireplace and an outdoor kitchen. Softscape elements include tree canopies, shrubs, vines, ground covers “and our beautiful Florida sky,” says Ross.

Outdoor rooms are custom designed specifically for each homeowner to conform to individual lifestyle and interests.

GARAGE STORAGE Custom closet designs have been saving space and lowering blood pressure for 15 years. “Homeowners are now ready to tackle the one area they visit first thing in the morning and at the end of a hard day: the garage,” says Roger Courtois of Closets by Courtois. “A garage makeover can go from the floor to the ceiling. Snap-down, maintenance-free flooring, an adjustable slotwall hanging system and cabinets designed specifically for the garage can transform your garage into an oasis.”

HOMES ON THE RANGE The Founders Club introduces 13 new luxury Golf Cottages on the 10th fairway of the signature Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course. Within close proximity to the clubhouse, these custom, maintenance-free, single-family homes will range from 3,089 to 4,835 square feet, offering a rare, golf-front living opportunity for those looking for a seasonal home or year-round residence in Sarasota’s premier golf community.

The Low Country-inspired cottages have architectural shutters, deep porches, French doors, tall windows and shaded verandas, as well as front, rear and second-story porches and brick paver outdoor terraces with fireplaces and swimming pools. No two cottages are alike, but all offer amenities such as Wolfe and SubZero appliances, wood floors, outdoor recreational areas, yard and landscape maintenance and a separate guest suite.

The first two cottages, Magnolia and Jasmine, have recently been completed. Prices start at $2 million and include a Founders Club equity golf membership, currently valued at $100,000.

BEST CELLARS Wine cellars are no longer just for the rich, the famous or the ultra-serious wine collector, says Gordon Grief of Sarasota’s Amphorae Cellars. In fact, practical and customized wine storage rooms are finding their way into the homes of average folks who simply enjoy sharing a bottle of wine with friends—but have outgrown their wine fridges.

Grief stresses that a wine cellar doesn’t have to be in the basement, especially in Florida. Amphorae creates custom wine cellars in closets, spare bedrooms or other free spaces that can be converted into climate-controlled rooms. “We work with homeowners to design cellars that might include stonework, beams, carvings or other architectural features,” he says. And depending on the size of the collection, cellars can be designed around a particular storage capacity—fitting 5,000 or even 10,000 bottles.

PRECIOUS MEDALS Competing against some of the largest homebuilders in the country, Bradenton’s Bruce Williams Homes DesignStudio received a Silver Award from the National Sales and Marketing Council of the National Association of Homebuilders. The Silver Award is one of only five handed out nationally, and puts the DesignStudio in the running for a Gold Award as the top new-home designer in the country. Gold Awards will be announced this month at the organization’s international convention in Orlando.

Additionally, Bruce Williams’ Live Oak model home, merchandised by Kay Green Designs of Winter Park, is a national finalist for interior merchandising. Located in Greenbrook Preserve at Lakewood Ranch, Live Oak boasts five bedrooms and four baths within 3,900 feet of living space.

QUEEN OF THE WORLD All of Southwest Florida knows Michael Saunders rules a pretty substantial real estate roost; now International Homes magazine has confirmed that her reign extends worldwide. At the publication’s International Property Awards in London, England, last December, Michael Saunders & Company brought home the ceremony’s top award as Best International Real Estate Agency. The 30-year-old Sarasota firm was also awarded Best Real Estate Agency in the United States and Best Agency Marketing.

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