My Space

By Hannah Wallace January 31, 2006


CEO, Udell Associates

Corner office, 11th floor, two walls of windows with views of the city, barrier islands, bay and Gulf of Mexico; convenient downtown location with parking. Could this office get any better? Actually, yes. When Bruce Udell and his wife, Janet, leased space in the Bank of America building for their employees at this estate planning firm, they hired designer Lori Fountain of FT Design to define, refine and furnish the public areas and offices, starting with the boss's.

"Bruce wanted three distinct areas," Fountain recalls. "He needed a residential-like conversation area with sofas, coffee table and such where clients could relax and have refreshments while privately discussing their needs with him. This space had to be homey, but contemporary." The boss also required a conference table for meetings, and he wanted his personal workstation to be within steps from his Smart Board but facing the wonderful views. Fountain found her color scheme of purple, blue, green and gold on the decorative jacket of Udell's most recent book, Enjoy Your Wealth and Pass It On.

"We went for the richer tones," says the designer. "And we brought in textural interest in the form of pillows, upholstery and art glass." She installed eight remote-control mechanized translucent metal screens for the windows to control glare, and she dropped the ceiling over the conversation area to make it more intimate. Hidden storage, warm wooden furniture and touches of satin nickel trim finished the scheme. She left in place Udell's Wheaties cereal box, which features the boss's hero, the late Roberto Clemente.

"Our UPS man says it's the best office he delivers to," says Udell. "While the room has personality and style, it doesn't compete with the view. When clients walk into my office, the first thing they do is head for the windows and stare."

Bruce Udell tallies his office wealth in

  • The view.
  • The warm color scheme.
  • His Roberto Clemente Wheaties box and other sports memorabilia.
  • Smart Board.


vice president of grant and program services, Community Foundation of Sarasota County

The challenge for a nonprofit exec is to fashion an office that is inviting to volunteers, board members and agency representatives without giving the impression that donor funds are being spent frivolously. When the Community Foundation of Sarasota County moved into the new Leila and Michael Gompertz Center on Fruitville Road last year, Wendy Hopkins, who's been at the Foundation for 12 years, solved her dilemma by working with designer Victor Appel. Appel selected the wall colors, flooring and major elements of all offices within the complex, which was designed by architect Don Lawson.

With Appel's help, Hopkins accessorized her space with beloved mementos. "My sister worked for the State Department, and when she was stationed in the Far East my oldest son and I visited her," says Hopkins. "I brought back such things as a vintage Japanese wedding kimono in the uchikake pattern of flowers and cranes. These Asian objects add color and interest, and frankly I just enjoy looking at them." Hopkins also brought her bookcase from home, as well as Asian artwork, figurines, small folding screens and a large ceramic plant pot. "The kimono was in my attic. I was really happy to find a place to show it off," she says. "Visitors to my new office are comfortable here, but they can tell I've been a good steward with donor funds. And that's what I want to convey."

What Wendy Hopkins can't work without

  • My dear assistant Maggie Pugh.
  • The small conference area at one end of the room; it's used every day. The secondhand furniture came from Curtis Bros.
  • A ceiling fan.
  • Personal thermostat, because I like my space colder than most. It's an age thing.


president, Tervis Tumbler Company

After a 30-year career working in 15 different cubicles and makeshift offices (his last with a window into the manufacturing plant), Tervis Tumbler president Norbert Donelly decided he wanted a stylish, comfortable office to use as a meditative retreat-and no one was going to make him feel guilty about the indulgence.

He ended up with a sophisticated and serene space that pleased him so entirely that several months after its completion, when Tervis moved from its ramshackle Osprey building to a brand-new facility in Venice, Donelly had his office taken apart and reassembled down to the tiniest detail. The interior designer is Pamela Hastings, whose work Donelly had seen in SARASOTA Magazine. She calls the tranquil, uncluttered office Zenlike but not predominantly Asian. Since doing Donelly's office, she's been retained to do three more at Tervis Tumbler headquarters.

A cocoon of peaceful understated luxury was created with grasscloth walls, dark tile at the doorway, a custom Asian cabinet, a feng shui copper corner fountain, woven window shades in a tortoise-shell motif and lustrous Scalamandre silk side panels. The prez can close the door and practice yoga whenever he wants to. A modern tempered glass and chrome desk along with a Herman Miller fully adjustable Aeron chair provide visual contrast to the Oriental rug and Vermont Frog Hollow curio cabinet, where the boss displays hand-carved maple bowls, a Chinese tea set and three large, beautifully colored stones he picked up while walking on a beach in Ireland.

Donelley's favorite office features:

  • Halogen-lighted niches that hold decorative vessels from China and Turkey. I look straight across to them from my desk.
  • Window treatment. I get privacy and light in something out of the ordinary.
  • The peaceful color palette.
  • Total feeling of calm. When I close the door, it's another world in here.


fire chief, Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue Station No. 1

There's no fireman's pole in Chief Randall Stulce's office (it's at the end of the hall, and he slid down it recently) but everything else in his workspace lets you know what kind of profession this 30-year veteran has dedicated his life to. The space was designed and furnished by Bill Tidmore of Tidmore-Henry & Associates of Sarasota, working with architect Garry Roberts of Design Team West and contractor Mike Carter. So successful was their collaboration that this Manatee County firehouse recently won first place in a nationwide design competition of new firehouses, beating out 62 other entries.

The chief says this is the best office he's ever had. Part of its appeal is that the space combines industrial necessities (a no-nonsense commercial carpet and two-inch wooden blinds for all the windows) with more cozy residential features such as handsome hanging light fixtures, sage green walls, walnut bookcases, hidden storage and display cabinets that show off vintage toys and firehouse memorabilia from a private collection. The collection, numbering 350 pieces, was a recent gift to the firehouse from Dr. Alfred Mintz, a seasonal Bradenton resident.

"Throughout the whole two-wing complex we used practical materials meant to last many years," says Tidmore, a designer who is also an engineer, "but we were conscious of creating a warm, convenient and masculine place because firemen live here in three rotating shifts. So we chose attractive lighting and traditional furniture with nice details. The chief wanted his office to be more quiet than energetic, a place where he could concentrate on administrative duties and organize small meetings. All through the design process we presented him with options and he made the choices. He did a great job."

Office details that light the Chief's fire:

  • Small conference table and chairs are convenient for informal meetings.
  • Private terrace.
  • Attractive cabinets for books and collection of firefighting memorabilia.
  • Everything is well organized.


founder and owner of Bryan Gordon Design

A Web site designer, Bryan Gordon's 800-square-foot workspace on the second floor of a vintage building is part artist studio and part business office where the young CEO meets with prospective clients. There are no doors or interior walls, just transparent hanging banners and Ace Hardware metal lattice separating three compact workstations as well as a kitchen/dining area. Drafting tables nestle under Home Depot metal open shelving where project files are stored in clear plastic numbered bins. Everything is easily movable.

"My goal when I moved in here three years ago was a casual industrial look, and I would have concrete floors, but it's not possible here," says Gordon. "I want to be able to reconfigure workstations as our electronic needs change. We're wireless, so I can walk around with a laptop and work wherever I want in the space." The boss takes the hard edge off all the metal with color: bright yellow bookcases that serve as a station divider, vivid red chairs at the kitchen table, and for his desk chair Gordon selected the newest model Herman Miller Mirra in citron.

Personal desk accessories include a multiplying collection of small metal robots, which live in the office because Mrs. Gordon doesn't particularly want them at home. Star Wars toys lurk about, also. "I love science fiction and one Christmas someone gave me a robot," says Gordon. "From there the collection just kept growing. Actually they're a great stress reliever. Sometimes I wind them all up and turn them loose."

Bryan Gordon's office must-haves:

  • Sophisticated and flexible electronics.
  • My Herman Miller Mirra chair, the Web guy's choice.
  • Coffeemaker.
  • Color. Its influence on our clients and me is so important.
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