Designing Mind

By Ilene Denton Photography by Lori Sax February 1, 2009

Laurel Phipps, of Laurel Design Group, is a 1992 graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design. A third-generation Floridian from St. Petersburg, she has an impressive design pedigree; her father was an architect and homebuilder, and her grandfather founded Sibley Homes, which developed two landmark Pinellas County waterfront communities, Venetian Isles and Treasure Island.

It’s really important: That whatever I’m doing for my client can last a lifetime for them. That means bringing in natural elements: wood floors, green tones—just don’t use them in the bathroom or kitchen because they don’t make your complexion or certain foods look very good. It’s so important psychologically for everybody to bring the outside in. My clients want: Simplicity. Gone are those days of over-detail. In a recent kitchen remodel, the client wanted a French feeling, but not French country. We chose dark-stained Shaker-style cabinets with neat egg-and-dart trim around them and classic white-and-brown marble countertops. It turned out beautifully. Something we can all do right now that doesn’t necessarily cost a lot of money:  Sprucing up our outdoor spaces—terraces, patios. Plant flowers, make some sacred spaces there. Having fresh flowers in your home is an easy way to bring the outside in and make you feel like you’re splurging a little. And you can buy soft, comfy blankets for under $50. Sometimes just: Moving your furniture is incredible. Have you ever thought about switching your dining room and living room? It’s really cool to have a chandelier in the middle of your living room. I’m working on: A new, two-story, New Orleans-style residence on Little Sarasota Bay with a separate guesthouse. Jerry Sparkman is the architect. [The client has a New Orleans business and] it has a little bit of that downtown New Orleans feel, with ironwork balconies. We’re using some French antiques, but surprisingly, we went to North Carolina with the client to do some shopping and did everything new. We spent a weekend in New Orleans with the client and took over a hundred pictures, then three days later the hurricane happened. It stopped the project for a long time because the client had to get her business there back on its feet. My favorite shopping haunt: Architectural Salvage over on Central Avenue has been a treasure lately.

What’s Next?

Hot Chocolate Rich brown hues are comforting in jittery times. Century Furniture is now offering a decadent new finish for its wood furnishings: chocolate-brown enamel. The curvy, chocolate bonnet-top armoire shown above is detailed with silver leaf pinstriping. Delicious.



Sarasota Orchestra Association 35th Designer Showcase

Feb. 13-March 8


10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sundays 1 to4 p.m.

A Concert by the Sea is the theme for this year’s showcase, to take place at Summer Cove, on the site of the old Summerhouse restaurant on Siesta Key. Design chairs Lance Licciardi and Tim Thomas have assembled a team of some of the area’s best interior designers to decorate two residences in this new bayfront condominium community. Proceeds benefit the orchestra’s youth programs, and on weekends some of those young musicians will give informal performances at the showcase. Info: (941) 685-0425 

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