One Great Room

By staff June 1, 2006

Beverly and Tom Porter purchased their dream home on Longboat Key two years before Tom planned to retire, then handed interior designer John Hargreaves a long list of requirements. This would be a home for comfort and laid-back entertaining, set amid an eclectic blend of elegant French antiques. And it would have no formal dining room; everyone would eat in the kitchen. When Tom stepped down as chief technical officer for Seagate Technology, a lifetime of business travel and restaurant meals would give way to the simple pleasures of home cooking. (And drinking fine wine-the Porters recently purchased their own vineyard in Napa Valley.)

Hargreaves met the Porters' challenges head-on, creating a charming Country French setting. The kitchen is practical and efficient, with high-tech amenities deftly hidden behind a decidedly low-tech façade.

"Bev and Tom like to cook together with guests right in the kitchen, so we created an open plan," Hargreaves says. "Because they work independently, pullouts like a spice rack, wastebasket and staple pantry are accessible from both sides."

"John spent a lot of time getting to know us, what we like and how we entertain," Beverly says. The effort paid off: "When people come in," she says, "They feel at home."

Hargreaves designed cabinetry in French blue and antique ivory with a hint of taupe to pick up tones in the living room's French fabrics and Aubusson rug. Filigrees add authenticity and charm.

A seven-foot-round walnut table (Southard, the DKOTA), a dozen 19th-century French chairs (Coco Palm Gallery), and hand-painted Ulla Darni chandelier (Galleria Silecchia) formalize the dining experience.

The designer chose Sonoma tile from Southwest Tile & Design to create a one-off backsplash and range hood using purposely unmatched, custom-colored tiles in fleur de lis, quilted squares and floral motifs that appear to be antiques collected over time.

To further the Country French ambiance, Hargreaves selected a farm sink and old-fashioned spigot-style faucet, bumping out the backsplash for proper water flow directly over the center of the sink.

For practicality, top-quality porcelain stone was used in two tones in a ratio of two-thirds cream to one-third beige. A complete layout was rendered, depicting the kitchen's random border and checkerboard diagonal design.

A custom-designed pineapple motif, the symbol of hospitality popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, was filigreed to allow air circulation in the wooden housing for a microwave at the end of a work counter/bar.


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