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The Showhouse Must Go On

A last-minute relo for the 2020 Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse, opening March 15.

By Ilene Denton March 2, 2020

1657 Alta Vista St.

When the owner of a down-on-its heels 1930s red brick residence on South Orange Avenue—all set to be the site of this spring’s 25th annual Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse—couldn’t get building permits from the city of Sarasota in time, the Showhouse design team took a collective gulp and forged ahead. 

In late January they were able to procure a classic Florida Craftsman cottage at 1657 Alta Vista St., also in Bungalow Hill. The circa-1916 home is listed for sale with Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company. Because of the time crunch, it’s a decoration-only project, says interior designer Jeff Hart; don’t expect to see new kitchen cabinets or redesigned baths, as was the case in many past Jewels on the Bay showhouses. That’s OK, because the home “has been beautifully renovated, and maintains its original 100-year-old woodworking details,” says Hart, who is co-captaining the showhouse with his wife and fellow designer, Joyce.  

But what a decoration project. “The design team is going a little more upscale, a little slicker, a little bolder, much more sophisticated with more international influences—the kind of thing you might find when someone has come over from Europe and has decided to live in Sarasota,” says Hart. “It’s not going to be a Key West parrot-head look.”

The Harts have chosen to transform the spacious front porch. They’ve kept the homeowners’ antique wicker but updated it with bold striped fabrics and big plants. “It’s still tropical,” Jeff Hart says, “but it’s not a subtle lace-glove kind of room. It’s a little more in your face.”

The 25th annual Jewels on the Bay Showhouse takes place March 15-April 12. Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. For ticket information and other details, visit

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