Sue Tapia, a former office manager for a private physician’s group in Chicago, moved to Sarasota in 2016 with her black rescue cat, Baby Kitty, to start a new career in residential real estate. During her first year as a realtor, she sold a Gulf Gate home outfitted in 1950s furniture and decor. “It was a time warp. The owner had passed away, and I always loved that style. The wallpaper, lamps, stereo console, and even the patio furniture were from that period,” she says.
She began to study the style and collect furnishings and accessories to adorn the home she was renting. Then, while hunting for midcentury furniture on Facebook Marketplace, a little round house at the corner of Peachtree Street and Lockwood Ridge Road caught her eye. “I collect rare pieces, and this was up my alley,” she says. “It needed some work, but I saw beyond that.”
Because it mimicked the notable 1960 Round House designed by Sarasota School of Architecture partners Jack West and Elizabeth Boylston Waters a few miles away on Riverwood Avenue, Christopher Wilson, past chair of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, dubbed it “the other round house.” But being round was the only link between the homes. Instead, Frank Williams, an electrician by trade, took inspiration from the Round House to build a smaller, humbler version in 1971. “He built the cabinets, he built everything,” Tapia says. And even though the property had passed through multiple owners and renters over the years, it stayed unchanged. “The beauty is that they kept it as is,” Tapia says.
She bought the 1,300-square-foot home for $229,000 in 2018. It was invisible behind Australian pines, and the next year, she spent more than $20,000 clearing the oversized corner lot—then spent another $50,000 remodeling.
Shaped like a cylinder, the house has an unusual floorplan and features. A round, single bathroom with a circle bathtub, curved mirror and a rounded sink and countertop sit at the center of the living space. To create a more spacious effect, Tapia removed a wall and created a larger bedroom, taking it from a three- to two-bedroom abode. She had the raw cement floors covered with commercial-grade, white-colored epoxy, creating a grout-free, bright, reflective finish to “bring in the light,” she says.
The home only has two windows in the master bedroom, and one in the guest bedroom, so she hunted down two original midcentury modern doors with funky window cutouts. One is the front door, and the other leads to the carport. They’re a cheerful orange and complement the walnut hues in her furniture and pop against the white, ice rink floor.
The kitchen has the same blue Formica counters with white laminate faces, custom-made by Williams. The cabinets have no backings and were installed directly onto the curved wall. A rectangular, white, double cast-iron sink sports a Hudee stainless steel ring. Tapia marvels at the quality of Williams’ work. Other than appliances, there was no need to update the kitchen.
She coaxed the design back in time by outfitting it with her collection of midcentury modern furniture. One of her most prized items is a boomerang coffee table she found at a local garage sale.
Tapia admits the house is an adjustment from her larger Chicago home. With little storage and no garage, she had to change her mindset about what to keep, a challenge when you’re an avid collector of midcentury modern treasures.
“When I first started collecting midcentury, I was buying everything I saw. Now, unless it has a home, it can’t come home with me,” she says.