By staff November 1, 2007

Changes in Attitudes

For the first time in Robb & Stucky’s 92-year existence, the renowned home furnishings retailer and interior design hub presents its own line of classically inspired modern furniture. “New Attitudes,” which launched earlier this fall, is the first collection from Robb & Stucky Originals. Based on traditional designs that have been updated to meet modern needs and styles, the furniture collection features straight lines, textured weaves and natural materials. Leather and rattan, rosewood veneers, solid walnut and stainless steel accents are the signature elements of New Attitudes, which includes furnishings and occasional pieces for the bedroom and dining room.

The Amazing Tour

From Nov. 2 through Nov. 18, Lakewood Ranch’s Tour of Homes invites residents and prospective residents alike to get to know everything that the award-winning master-planned community has to offer—obviously including, but not limited to, its variety of homes built by a collection of award-winning builders. In addition to open models and invitations to tour the many neighborhoods, Jazz at the Ranch, Nov. 4, and the Suncoast Winefest, Nov. 10, lead a full schedule of events aimed at showcasing the Lakewood Ranch lifestyle.

Good Growth

After 17 years in business, locally owned ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design is still growing strong. This summer, Inc. magazine named the Venice-based company on its list of the Top 5,000 private companies in the country, based on growth in revenue. ArtisTree specializes in resort-level planned community maintenance, tree service and pest control, as well as landscape design and installation, including lighting and irrigation. Among environmental services companies appearing on Inc.’s list, ArtisTree was ranked No. 49.

Watch Your Step

“The trend in Oriental carpets in Florida is different from the rest of the country,” says Eileen Hampshire, owner of Palm Avenue’s Art to Walk On. “There’s an interest in the traditional with a modern twist. People want high-quality carpets, but most of them don’t want the typical Oriental carpet they had in their Northern home. They want something fresh and new and yet still rooted in tradition.”

All the carpets at Art to Walk On are unique hand-knotted pieces; most have been crafted of handspun wool and indigenous vegetable dyes. From C.F.A. Voysey’s 19th-century Arts and Crafts rugs to Southwestern-esque Persian carpets woven by nomads in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, Hampshire’s selection is as diverse as it is sophisticated. “Our clients seek something beautiful that they have never encountered before,” she says. Art to Walk On also carries a large selection of rare antique carpets.

Additionally, says Hampshire, “We believe that an educated buyer is more apt to be satisfied with their purchase.” In addition to working with clients to determine the most suitable pieces for their needs, taste and budget, Art to Walk On also offers rug courses, exhibitions and special lectures by eminent scholars.

Real Recovery

Since launching its “Time2Buy” campaign in January 2007, the Sarasota Association of Realtors has been touting the strengthening local housing market. In fact, with buyers flocking to take advantage of well-priced properties, the inventory of available homes is actually slightly lower than it’s been. Grounded prices combined with a noticeable increase in pending and closed sales means a significantly recovering Sarasota real estate market.

The summer of 2006 saw fewer than 200 pending sales per month. But in every month of 2007, more than 500 pending sales have been reported. Likewise, actual sales have hovered around 500 since March.

And while all those sales mean a slightly lower inventory, there are still plenty of top-notch homes on the market—especially condominiums, which have also returned to pre-boom prices.

Taking into account low lending rates and a continuing influx of wealth to the area, the SAR experts expect the demand for housing to continue to grow, which means, they say, that now really is the time to buy

Hot Properties

Already an award-winning real estate firm, 27-year-old Premier Properties of Southwest Florida has continued polishing the finer points of industry service and community leadership this fall. In addition to hosting a fund-raising event for Girls Inc., in October, the Premier Properties sales team gathered for a company-sponsored event aimed at learning and sharing skills—especially those skills associated with customer service. Titled “A Full House,” the full-day retreat focused on building interpersonal skills, integrating global marketing and influencing sales with integrity. Lynn McDonald, author and CEO of Cesario Inc., led the event.

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