Interior Design Awards

Meet the Winners of Our 2017 Interior Design Awards

Meet the winners of our 2017 Interior Design Awards.

By Ilene Denton September 27, 2017 Published in the October 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

From an eclectic, art-filled living room to a lush, butter-toned kitchen that made our judges melt, the five winners of our 2017 Interior Design Awards are as diverse as the area design professionals who created them.

Scores of design pros submitted their best recent projects—bold condo remodels, bright midcentury updates, grand mansions and more—for our inaugural Interior Design Awards. Our judges praised not only the quality of entries, but their design diversity. These rooms can’t be typecast; they’re fresh but not trendy, reflecting the creativity and versatility of designers who respond to individual homes and clients rather than any particular trend or style. And as artfully curated and crafted as every as each winning space is, most of all, they’re livable—inviting spaces that feel like home.

You can check out all the entries at and in the October and November issues of our biweekly Home View enewsletter. (It’s easy to subscribe; just click here.)

And thanks to those judges: Barbara Marini, chair of the interior design department at Ringling College of Art + Design and past national president of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID); and Courtenay Lindsey, designer at Custom Closets and More, and president of the Interior Design Society of Naples.

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Our judges said: “A wonderful collaboration between art and space.” 

Living Room/Great Room

Winner: Perlman Residence
Ellen Hanson, Ellen Hanson Designs

It took only a couple of weeks to furnish this sophisticated Lido Shores living room, interior designer Ellen Hanson of Ellen Hanson Designs and the Burns Square home furnishings boutique, Pansy Bayou, told us. But “the mix of an antique rug with a cocktail table made of a large tree root and vintage Zanuso chairs with a rare rattan Kaerholm Grasshopper Lounge creates the impression of a collection years in the making,” she says. An eclectic mix of art ranging from African tribal to European contemporary complements the rigorously limited color palette.

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Our judges said: “Soft,” “warm,” “comfortable,” “a great job of not being trendy.” 


Winner: St. Armands Key Renovation
Angela Rodriguez, Angela Rodriguez Interiors

This St. Armands Key custom kitchen, designed by Angela Rodriguez of Angela Rodriguez Interiors for clients who are passionate home chefs, incorporates smart space planning and a light, natural palette in its quartz countertops and stained and painted maple custom cabinetry in two contrasting finishes. The energy-efficient LED lighting can be controlled via the owners’ iPhones. A winning design element is the white-oak-clad soffit that rises to the top of the 12-foot ceiling. “As a final personal touch,” Rodriguez says, “an extra-deep toekick overhang at the center island provides a perfect place to tuck in the food bowls of the owners’ two dogs.”

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Our judges said: “Fun,” “creative” and “great use of sustainable materials.”

Outdoor Room

Winner: Fisherman’s Bay Balcony Room
Celeste Gruenstein, Décor Direct

This fun and colorful bayfront balcony room was a highlight of the 2017 Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse in Fisherman’s Bay, in large part because of its use of sustainable materials—a bar-height table handcrafted from a massive live-edge slab of wood, a console table sculpted out of teak roots, and a dramatic (and privacy-creating) vine wall twisted and sculpted onto an iron base. Bar stools in distressed leather, iron and reclaimed wood bring an industrial feel, and, to connect the room to the waterfront scene beyond, an eye-popping sea urchin-style rattan chandelier in Caribbean blue was added. “Our team has been designing and crafting sustainable furniture before it was cool,” says Décor Direct’s Celeste Gruenstein.

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Our judges said: “Flat-out gorgeous” and “a dramatic combo of texture and materials.”


Winner: The Victoria Master Bath
John Cannon and Barbara Benigni, John Cannon Homes; Kay Green Design

An ultra-luxurious master bath with full glass-wall doors that open up the room to the outdoors becomes a private spa-like sanctuary in John Cannon Homes’ Victoria model in The Concession. The homeowner can choose from three equally indulgent experiences: an oversized tub crowned with a crystal chandelier; a separate oversized shower with digitally controlled multifunction chromotherapy and a window that looks into the courtyard; and a second, outdoor, shower adjacent to a waterfall.

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Our judges said: “That gorgeous blue tempered with white—mmm.”


Winner: 21st Century “Farmhouse” in Laurel Park
Stephanie Nolan of Distinctive Interiors, in collaboration with celebrity designer Thom Filicia

A bold cobalt-blue wall sets the theme for this cozy master bedroom in a brand-new farmhouse-style home in downtown Sarasota’s Laurel Park. Designer Stephanie Nolan, in collaboration with Thom Filicia of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (who was brought into the project by home builder David Weekley Homes), cooled down the blue with a tufted white upholstered bed from the Thom Filicia Collection by Vanguard Furniture. The wood-plank floor, white tongue-and-groove ceiling and metal touches complete the farmhouse elements. “I wanted to convey that this is a Sarasota home and brought in a lot of coastal colors,” says Nolan. “Thom’s approach is very modern, and that’s evident in the shapes and lines of his furnishings. He is always on the edge, coming up with new ideas that are reflected within his collections.”

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