Before & After

By staff January 1, 2007

Craig Hall envisioned a stylish Siesta Key condominium with clean, contemporary lines and a minimalist, metro feel. The Bay Oaks unit he saw offered deep orange shag carpeting, green swirl Formica countertops and gray walls. Luckily, Hall is far-sighted.

“Even though it was difficult to imagine how the place could look, I was able to see beyond the outdated décor and terrible color scheme,” says Hall, co-owner of Sun Energy Solar. “In my business I helped to create and patent a product by conceptualizing what could be, rather than focusing on what already exists. I used that same visualization process for the condo. I actually completed some of the work myself. And then I searched out someone to help me make the rest happen.”

That someone is Lori Stone, an interior designer with Living Walls. In addition to her decorating expertise, Stone possesses multiple degrees in art appreciation and art history and instantly understood Hall’s aim. “Craig wanted a smart urban interior with good colors and a masculine feel,” she explains. “He had a very clear picture in his head, and that made my job easy.”

Because the compact two-bedroom, two-bath condo offers a spare amount of living space, the first step was cleaning and clearing every square inch of interior to create a blank page. The popcorn ceiling was scraped off and a smooth coat of plaster applied. The ‘60s shag was ripped up and replaced with gleaming, honey-toned maple floors. Walls were taken from “blah” beige to subtle sage with a fresh coat of paint, and tired light fixtures were tossed. 

In the kitchen, Hall discarded the dated appliances and unattractive laminate cabinetry and then, weary of ducking his head to avoid the low ceiling, tore down the overhead plastic dome and the fluorescent lights concealed behind it. “We kept the new raised ceiling and just didn’t replace one entire wall of cabinets,” he explains. “We then connected the kitchen to the dining room with a bar so that you can see out and across into the living room. Before, the cook had to bend at the waist and peer out at the dining room through a narrow slot below the cabinetry.”  

The new kitchen ceiling is fitted with tiny star lights that shine overhead and provide beautiful illumination without hanging hardware. Task lighting over the sink and track lighting above the bar do the rest. Beautiful maple cabinets were washed in pewter and green tones to coordinate with the emerald pearl granite selected for countertops. Stainless steel was the finish of choice for all appliances, faucets, hardware and double sinks, and Hall selected top-of-the-line products manufactured by the best names in the business. His new and improved kitchen has sleek lines and cool sophistication with smart industrial accents. The granite bar offers a perfect perch for guests to converse with the cook or swivel to become part of the dining room.

The acquisition of furnishings was preceded by study sessions, during which Hall and Stone pored over catalogues, architectural books and magazines. “In good contemporary design, shape is key, and each piece is vital to the composition of the room,” explains Stone. “We were looking for furniture with strong lines and just the right proportions. But beyond being beautiful, the space needed to be comfortable as well.”

A sculpted wool rug with patterns in gray, blue, lavender and green offered a pre-set color scheme. A rounded olive sofa and celery-green side chair, both of which work wonderfully with the rug, provide ample space for guests. A contemporary adaptation of the rocking chair in royal blue, dubbed the “Go-Go Slider,” is the most comfortable seat in the house. Metal legs are replicated on chair and sofa while the fabric of choice is a durable micro-fiber that feels like buttery suede. An imaginative bi-level glass coffee table on rollers features two separate sections that fit neatly together or pivot apart to elongate the table and hold everyone’s drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Bar stools are done in black leather and chrome with comfortable molded seats and footrests. The scaled-down dining room table seats six comfortably around a glass rectangle supported by a black iron base. Curving chairs are upholstered in black vinyl. Chrome floor lamps in whimsical designs shed light where it is needed, while a wall unit done in light maple, metal and frosted glass serves as entertainment center, bookcase, display case for objets d’art and storage area for music and movies.

Final touches included hanging window treatments and artwork. Stone selected semi-transparent verticals called “illumisheers” to dress the glass sliders that lead from the living room to a screened porch overlooking the gardens and swimming pool. “We wanted something that would allow light to pass through and soften the metal sliders,” says Stone. “But they also had to stack neatly to one side when people were moving through the doors.” Bright modern art prints provide eye interest, contrasting with the cool walls and mellow wood tones.

Hall has decided to keep the condominium as a vacation place and perhaps rent on occasion to select clientele. His parents will enjoy it when visiting Sarasota from their North Carolina home, and Hall also enjoys entertaining there. “I just didn’t want to go with wicker and sea shells, and am very gratified that our different direction turned out so well,” he says.

Design Team: Kitchen cabinets by B&B Custom Cabinets; granite countertops by Stone Trend; design, furnishings, art and accessories provided by Lori Stone of Living Walls. 

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