Four Design and Home Furnishings Pros Share What They Love Right Now

The home trends and products they can't get enough of.

By Sarasota Magazine September 30, 2015 Published in the October 2015 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Photography by Salvatore Brancifort


Wayne Rollins


Owner of the stylish Black Bird Lifestyle in downtown Sarasota, Wayne Rollins is a design-savvy retailer whose shop reflects his unassuming elegance and penchant for organic shapes and textures—traits he brought when he and his wife, Mindy, moved here from Los Angeles. In their own beachfront home, he practices the design philosophy that he preaches. Most everything is slipcovered, for example, but it’s slipcovered in white linen with a textured coral motif stitched in teal.


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Midcentury chairs are a big trend; we have a couple in the store right now by Noir, a California-based company.”


“I always fall for the things that bring nature in: the stones, woods, quartzes.”


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Brass is really in right now and I love it in lamps, side tables. It’s a higher-quality brass with a nice, warm glow.”


“Another huge re-emergence is acrylic—furniture, tables, chairs, everything. It’s stylized air, meaning you can have form and function without visual heaviness. Plus it’s an easy and fun way to modernize an older look.”


“I’m seeing a lot of great leather tufting in upholstery. It’s done in a contemporary fashion—not your old-fashioned tufted bed quilt—and it’s not as cold a look as hard leather. There’s a lot of texture in the new lines in general.”


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Louise Stewart


Louise Stewart, co-owner of Stage III Design and president of the Florida West Coast chapter of ASID, has been an active member of Sarasota’s design community for more than a decade as both an interior design and an accredited staging professional. Her motto: “Whether we’re staging a home or working on the home the clients live in, they are happiest when we take what they already own and love and make it livable,” she says.


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“I always gravitate toward the colors of Sarasota—the blues and greens of the sea and sky, and sunset colors that go from coral to rust, with some neutral beiges, ivories and khakis mixed in. A lot of my influence is from the natural environment, and those colors are always beautiful.”


“I like the Barcelona chair because it’s so sleek and feels like it can take off.”


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“I’m using more modern [pieces] than when I first arrived in Sarasota: creamy white leather, glass and plexiglass. I like all those invisible-visible things that don’t take up a lot of space and don’t take the air right out of the room.”


“I like light solids in sofas, but I also like a large-print fabric on pillows that plays up the artwork; something really fun with light and movement to jazz it up, so you’re not going to be bored by having all neutrals.”


“If money were no object I’d buy a painting or a sculpture. I can’t narrow it down to one artist; I like so many.”


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Carmen Christensen


Kitchen and bath designer Carmen Christensen of Time2Design is immediate past president of the Florida West Coast chapter of A.S.I.D. A Ringling College of Art and Design grad, she says, “The most exciting to me right now is that people are allowing themselves to think outside the box, to not feel their kitchen has to be the typical layout or design. They give more thought to how they use their kitchen versus how everybody says they should use it.”


“I’m so glad that there are so many options now for materials. There was a time when there were basically six cabinet colors; now there are multiple colors, stains, styles. The wood species, backsplash tiles, flooring materials, even the appliances take on a style that can showcase a person’s personality.”


“I love that there are so many options to organizing a kitchen so it’s more functional—drawer organizers, pull-out pantries, flip pantries, even paper-towel rod inserts. There’s a storage solution for everything in the kitchen.”


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“I lean toward contemporary with a splash of traditional—like the Aurora outdoor chair from Made Goods, which has a very traditional Elizabethan shape but a very stylized contemporary feel; and Brizo’s Artesso kitchen faucet, which has the traditional style of a bridged faucet but is a bit sleeker.”


“The kitchen today is much more automated. Instead of pulling a drawer open, you can touch it and it opens; you open a drawer and there’s an automated light in it. I love the touch control faucets, the touch-screen appliances. Everything’s becoming smarter, more digital. There’s even a wireless charging station you can mount on your countertop—just set your phone on that spot on the countertop and it charges it. Now if we can just get it to chop the vegetables for us!”




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Jill Geisdorf


Sarasota native Jill Geisdorf started her career at an Atlanta architectural firm doing interior design for health care facilities. She returned here five years ago to join Chic on the Cheap and concentrate on residential design. Geisdorf, 32, and her husband have a 1-year-old son, and she finds she’s starting to get more young families as clients, as well as new grandparents seeking to retrofit their homes. “We talk about function—using durable materials, creating flexible spaces—because with kids your needs change all the time,” she says.


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“We went to Chile, and the first hotel we stayed at had cement tile. It looks authentic and very sophisticated. The patterns are wonderful. I did it as an insert in my shower when we remodeled our own home last year.”


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“My clients want cleaner, less rustic lines, and then they want to add their personality in accessories and colors. They tell me, ‘I know I’m on the water, but I don’t want a beachy look.’ Some of the midcentury modern manufacturers like Knoll and Herman Miller are reissuing lesser-known pieces from their archives, and those pieces can be good choices for that.”


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“I tend to do lighter walls, a white or light gray, and sometimes in the bedroom I default to one specific strip of the Benjamin Moore Historic Color collection: HC 142-149. I find it’s very calming.”


“I always add a little bit of black, in picture frames, light fixtures or bookcase supports. It keeps the room from being a vanilla box.”


“The powder bath is my favorite place to try out a trend. It’s a smaller space, so what’s the big deal if you paint it lime green? My own guest bathroom has a golf theme. I spent 10 hours decoupaging golf course maps onto the walls. I know themes are no-no’s, but do what you like. That’s what I tell my clients.”


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