On The Homefront

By Carol Tisch February 1, 2012

John Cannon’s Akarra model melds outdoor/indoor living with panache.One of the joys of a Florida summer kitchen is winter. True, everything tastes better when it’s cooked outside. But the simplest outdoor meal can seem deliciously decadent when your friends are freezing up North. That’s one reason why the appetite for summer kitchens is growing in Sarasota, from tiny galley kitchens nestled under canvas awnings to lavish cooking and dining setups just outside the great room.

The brand-new Akarra model by John Cannon Homes takes the concept of indoor-outdoor living to an entirely new level, including with the cooking areas. What John Cannon has done on the inside with 3,358 square feet is truly remarkable. The house exemplifies the trend to right-sized homes: not too big, not too small. Yet it lives large—with sprawling outdoor spaces you’d expect to find in way bigger homes. Though a lot of builders give lip service to the term “seamless integration” of indoor and outdoor living spaces, their floor plans don’t always live up to the claim. In many summer kitchens you have to ferry uncooked food through the family room (and over carpet or expensive area rugs) to get it outside.

In the Akarra, the outdoor and indoor kitchens are separated only by the dining room. I’ve never seen the dining room in the back of the house before, and it’s great; you can enjoy the views while dining, and the room is wide enough to provide a clear, generous pathway to the barbecue. The Akarra model is designed with a sequence of outdoor spaces: a pool and spa tiled with the same glass mosaics as the kitchen backsplashes, an outdoor living room, and a separate colonnaded room with conversational seating around a fire pit. The colonnade adds depth and dimension to the patio, as does the lanai screening, which is inset in a stucco wall creating the effect of picture windows framing incredible lake views.

According to marketing manager Nancy Hielscher, the Aboriginal word for “special dwelling” is Akarra; all John Cannon model homes have Australian names because John’s wife, Phillipa, hails from the land down under. The Akarra lives up to its moniker, with a grand entrance flanked by stone columns, an old-world cobblestone driveway, barrel tile roof and light Mediterranean exterior design. The body of the home is painted light cream with taupe accents in the fascia, soffit and corbels. Inside, the look is transitional with soft sage finish on kitchen cabinetry, open-plan great room and elegant master bedroom suite

The three-bedroom, four-bath Akarra model in the new Vineyards section of The Lake Club at Lakewood Ranch is offered fully furnished at $1,199,000 with 24-month leaseback. The model can be duplicated on other home sites for $889,900 (not including home site). Since standard home sites are $128,000 in the Vineyards, this leaseback option (with furniture, wall coverings and more) is one of the best real estate deals around.

After years of writing about the annual Jewels on the Bay designer showhouse, Sarasota Magazine’s Ilene Denton is living the experience firsthand. Ilene and David Denton’s charming Craftsman-style bungalow is one of two homes in historic Bay Point Park that have been transformed by local ASID designers for this year’s Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Manatee counties. “I’m excited that wonderful old houses are getting new leases on life this year,” says Ilene, whose 1926 home underwent a one-and-a-half-year renovation before she and David bought it 20 years ago. “We haven’t remodeled anything but the kitchen since then, and now we’re lucky enough to have a team of top designers doing the right kinds of updates.”

Farmhouse sinks gets stylish.In addition to interior design of every room, the master and upstairs bathrooms and laundry room have been completely renovated. Designed by Brigid Hewes of Tile Market of Sarasota and Ron Cook of Cooks Custom Cabinetry (both allied ASID members), the master bath is a sensitive update in keeping with the home’s original character. “Pat Walter of Stage III Design restored the original 1926 hexagon tile on the upstairs bath floor and matched it with new wall tiles. In our master bath, Brigid added marble floors with a 4-by-6 tile mosaic ‘rug’ inset that echoes the pattern on fabric used to recover our bedroom chairs. And Carmen Christensen of Time2Design gets full credit for transforming our laundry room from a dump to a showcase,” says Denton, who will chronicle the process, including what it’s like to turn your home over to strangers for two months, in an upcoming issue. Visit the Jewels on the Bay from Jan. 22 through Feb. 19.

The iconic apron-front sink of farmhouse fame has been updated for contemporary homes with sleek new finishes and textures. Now every kitchen can have the benefit of these large, utilitarian sinks with styling that complements the interior design of the kitchen and the entire home. Kohler has perfected the look with a variety of fresh materials, from enameled cast iron to stainless steel, with a unique design that offers unprecedented ease of installation.

Home and style editor Carol Tisch was the founding editor of Shelter Interiors magazine.

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