Every year, our editors invite Sarasota and Manatee design professionals to send us their best new work; and from those selections, we choose the most exceptional to feature in our Design Yearbook. We think you'll agree that the winning 2005 spaces demonstrate brilliantly the diverse talents and eclectic design aesthetics flourishing in this part of Southwest Florida. While these impressive rooms do not share one unifying attitude (our design professionals are much too individualistic for that), they do possess a common characteristic-color.
After many seasons of soothing, natural neutrals that focused on the layering of plush textures, color has made a robust return. We're not looking at vibrant jewel tones or powerful Mondrian primary colors of the past, but rather sensual, spirit-pampering spa colors-everything from seafoam greens to watery blues, dove gray, pale apricot, coral, lavender and aqua-that are no doubt inspired by unique hotels and private clubs around the globe. It seems the more we travel, the more we want to bring those exotic and colorful multicultural decor experiences back home. So as you tour the rooms of these award-winning designers, do ponder the inspiring possibilities of color and consider what a hue or two could do for your private cocoon.
Micheline Laberge, A.S.I.D: Master Bedroom
This high-concept bedchamber for a glamorous young Sarasota couple stops just short of theatricality, and it's thoroughly sensuous from top to bottom. The designer has opted for a complex mix of textures and colors, so expertly pulled together that the space expresses a relaxed harmony both welcoming and chic. Blues and greens with cream accents and warm wood tones support the dramatic look and feel. Tall light boxes behind the nightstands were crafted with vintage glass salvaged from the now-defunct John Ringling Towers. The ceiling is deep blue, walls are dressed in silks and velvets, and the bed with its satin quilted pillow shams and velvet pillows is as inviting as the most discerning and sophisticated international resort.
A Confident Palette
Lori Fountain, F.T. Design, Inc.: Master Bedroom
In this stylish beachfront contemporary condominium, the design scheme is bold, clean and spare, but it sacrifices nothing to comfort and refinement. The leather platform bed from Germany establishes a crisp international look. Texture is repeated in the soft faux leather walls and the inviting leather red lounge chair and bench at the foot of the bed. The color choices are few-bold red, deep brown, soft ecru and a flash of silver. And while the palette is certainly assertive and expresses the confidence of the homeowner, the room still remains a calm backdrop for ever-changing tropical vistas enjoyed through walls of glass.
Bonnie Lancaster & Keffie Lancaster, Lancaster Humma White Studio: Living Room
Luscious color streams down these 22-foot walls, perhaps to the sound of romantic music from the noire piano in this urbane Bird Key living room. The custom wall treatment, which required eight different coats of paints and glazes, was inspired by a collection of kiwi glazed ceramic flowerpots prized by the homeowner. The lightness of the mirrored coffee table beautifully offsets the gravity of the piano, while kiwi green silk plaid pillows on the English armchairs cheerfully reinforce the color theme in an offhand way. This exceptional room is both timeless and modern, an operatic aria of green that could make any home sing.
Shades of the Island
Suzanne Sultana & Associates: Living Room
Creating a relaxed, inviting flow between indoors and outdoors was the challenge for the designer of this private Siesta Key residence. The design scheme complements the home's modern architecture and accentuates the windows and outdoor alcove. A neutral palette plays off the blues and greens from the natural island setting, with the animal skin rug pulling the eclectic floor plan together while fixed white drapes soften the room's sharp edges. The ceiling is a darker shade than the walls to "ground" the space.
Lois Ross, A Step Above Gallery: Entrance Foyer
A successful foyer should set the stage for what's revealed in the rest of the residence. In this inspired space, it's all about bright, reflective color and whimsical art. The playful foyer is dressed in silver ceiling and walls and a metallic-like floor, all providing a glamorous background for contemporary paintings and fanciful sculpture. Even the mirror, glass shelf and area carpet are treated as objets d'art, and so they are. The chandelier, which evokes all the colors used in the area, is Italian glass. Who says a distinguished home can't have a sense of humor, too?
Ana Santa Maria, Robb & Stucky: Dining Room
Here's an object lesson in how to successfully make a small, mundane space airy and dramatic. Strong, unconventional color combinations and simple, clean-lined furniture coalesce to paint a bold picture of modern stylishness. The best part of putting together this kind of look is that it often can be accomplished on a budget. The investment is in the light fixture, which becomes the focal point and functions both as sculpture and primary interior light source. Keeping the window treatment, ceiling and floor neutral helps expand the space and open it up to the outside.
Raymond W. Boorstein, A.S.I.D.: Dining Room
Eclectic is perhaps the most overworked description in home décor. It's a concept often interpreted as mixing and matching from any period, culture or style. But a successful eclectic space is the most difficult to realize because it requires a refined eye and knowledge of balance, proportion and color. When an eclectic scheme goes awry, a room looks like a rummage sale. When it's right, it looks like this dining room, which evokes high style and worldly sophistication. It's layered without being cluttered. Notice the balance between light and dark, contemporary and classical, reflective surfaces and those that are dense. Best of all, this room has what Renaissance Italians called sprezzatura, the art of making something difficult or complicated look gracefully, effortlessly simple.
Catherine Kerr, Catherine Kerr Interiors: Dining Room
A hip couple in the music business challenged their designer by mandating that she use furniture bought from a mass-market retailer. Since the couple enjoys color, especially chartreuse, purple and silver, the designer knew she could create drama and elegance. Using a harlequin theme and two tones of silver iridescent paint, she cloaked the walls in a diamond pattern and the ceiling in shimmering silver. She repeated the diamond pattern in the silver mirror frame, the silver mesh curtains and the velvet drapes; added metal flourishes to the table; and slip-covered the chairs, adding dressmaker details with cording. By punching up the room with daring color combinations and couture trim, this expert pumped up the volume on style.
Sally A. Trout: Dining Room
The European clients wanted for their waterfront high-rise condo a palette that would reflect their fabulous views of sand, sea and sky. Working from a Craig Rubadoux painting the homeowners brought from their previous home, the designer used watery blues and sea greens to fashion a room of subtle Venetian plaster walls and ultrasuede chairs, each upholstered in a slightly different hue. A transparent table plays off the rich mahogany and travertine marble floors and lightens the solidarity of the antique armoire. Waves of aqua flow throughout the rest of the home, making this seaside retreat relaxed and refreshing, but still luxurious.
Jill Jesiolkiewic, Tidmore-Henry & Associates: Kitchen
When a kitchen looks like a pleasant home entertainment room that just happens to include appliances, you know a talented designer rose to an age-old challenge. All the base drawers here are 10 inches deep, some with interior dividers to make them even more practical. The center island with its rich red, green and black granite surface looks like a piece of fine furniture; and the custom mahogany range hood and bar top appeal to the homeowners' traditional taste. The walls sport green stripes that emphasize the vertical nature of the room and work with the white cabinets and whimsical tiles to personalize the space. The addition of the rooster table lamp is a final flourish of homey comfort. This is a kitchen to crow about.
Raymond W. Boorstein: Kitchen
A contemporary kitchen claims "wow" status with a startling infusion of citrus orange, perfect for its Florida setting. The designer's inspiration came from a trompe l'oeil cornice that rings the aquarium glass window in the light-filled breakfast nook. There's so much natural light that the room could take strong colors, lots of contrast and even reflective surfaces that play with the light. Replicating the cornice pattern with actual items in a narrow glass-front kitchen cupboard is one way to repeat and reinforce a theme. Unafraid of powerful color, the designer robed the kitchen in glossy orange and accented it with chrome. Granite counters provide contrast and play off the colors in the cornice, while black accents lend sophistication to the palette.
Missi Cooper-Youngblood, The Dream Home Coach: Bath
A well-traveled young Brit wanted his Sarasota bedroom/bath suite to express subtle sex appeal, so he requested lots of red and black lacquer. In the adjoining bath, the designer used small black glass tiles and red walls to create a focal point of the spa tub. The drama and darkness of the tile motif and the plantation shutters are balanced by the reflective glass of the tiles and the creamy travertine marble for the floor. Red gives the room its seductive theatrical clout. The brilliant detail here is the hand-made "bamboo" ceramic tile for the surrounding trim. It references the tropical setting of the waterfront home and ties the room to the tropical foliage outside when the shutters are open.