Before & After

By staff October 1, 2004

Sometimes a simple remodeling job takes on a life of its own. Tom and Linda Jones of St. Louis, Mo., disliked the dark and dreary kitchen in their Longboat Key condominium. Six months and quadruple the budget later, they walked back into a 4,000-square foot penthouse with gleaming new bathrooms, gorgeous ceilings, redesigned bedrooms, updated lighting, custom-painted walls and lavish window treatments. Interior designer Virginia Clark says the difference is stunning.

"We started with a1970s square, done in ugly white tile and popcorn ceilings," describes Clark. "The kitchen was, of course, done in Formica cabinets with wood strips; and there were several horrible dark halls with metal sconce lights. Rooms felt like dead ends; there was no flow. And the bathrooms were so tired. The place was begging for a fresh face." Clark has to be careful just how critical she is, since her mother, Joyce Pritt, designed the original interior some 30 years ago. "The décor worked back then," concedes Clark. "But we have moved into a new century."

Gorgeous granite, new cabinetry and fixtures and handsome ceramic tiles in a sea motif spruced up bathrooms. Old floors were replaced with custom carpets and tile. Ceilings were torn out and outdated fixtures thrown away. Now the home boasts skip-trowel finishes, drop cans and recessed lighting for warmth and illumination. Clark salvaged the original luxurious wallpapers wherever possible and covered ruined sections in a Venetian plaster finish. And then she attacked the bedroom windows.

"We had to create a treatment that was aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional, because there is so much light streaming into the space, given its Gulf and bay views," explains Clark. The answer came in the form of oversized roman shades, technically superb and crafted to look wonderful. "Various adaptations of the shades work beautifully in the twin guest room with its playful crisp-blue beach motif and also in the king guest with its elegant leaf wallpapers and West Indies plantation feel. Lower the shades and the rooms can be darkened for comfortable sleeping. Raise them to access the balconies overlooking Sarasota Bay and enjoy exciting city vistas. These shades solved one of our greatest design challenges."

Demolition, structural modifications and finishes complete, it came time to furnish and accessorize. Linda Jones searched for art that would make the beach place welcoming for children, grandchildren and guests. A collection of exotic shells showcases nature in its most elegant form. Seahorses, sea stars, shell and palm tree designs surface repeatedly in tiles, unusual lamps, coffee table books, cushions and whimsical patio pieces. A dolphin sculpture of optic glass with semi-precious stones by Austrian artist Gernet Schluifer is the focal point of the penthouse's private elevator. Custom duvets and bedspreads complement colors found in hand painted wall murals and give bedrooms strong appeal.

Tremendously pleased with the results, the Jones family is now busily entertaining in and enjoying its updated and upscale island getaway. "This place is a find, with unobstructed views, gorgeous beach and excellent location on Longboat," says Clark. "The owners were smart to go ahead and complete the entire renovation. They have really upgraded their investment." 


Granite work by Superior Stone; tile by West Florida Tile and Southern Tile; window treatments by Ellen Feldman; wallpaper by Jeff Furman; faux painting, Devi Izzo ; renovation, restoration and interior design.

Filed under
Show Comments