Tricks of the Trade


If Carrie and Jason Riley’s great room looks familiar, it’s because the couple opened their doors in March to hundreds of visitors during Designer Digs, a tour of homes of 10 members of the Florida West Coast Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.

"My husband and I wanted a casual, livable, modern feel," says the 30-something founder of Riley Interior Design in Sarasota. Their 3,000-square-foot Lakewood Ranch home is a study in clean, less-is-more, contemporary style. But the home’s tranquil, monochromatic color scheme and cutting-edge materials were chosen for practicality as much as beauty.

"We have two dogs, a Shiba Inu and a boxer," Riley says. "I used neutral tones to help hide their fur. I couldn’t go too dark or too white with fabrics, because either way it would show." Nylon carpet, durable countertops and tile floors, and a spacious, uncluttered floor plan are tricks of the trade that add to the carefree appeal of this successful young designer’s elegant digs.


The flowing great room features a monochromatic palette of cream tones for porcelain tile floors,1, walls, and textural kitchen backsplash, 2, of easy-care sealed, honed and filled travertine subway tiles. A comfortably scaled chair-and-a-half, 3, coordinating loveseat and ottoman substitute for massive sectional pieces, creating easy traffic patterns and Zen-like tranquility. The designer made decorative moldings pop by painting ceilings, 4, two shades lighter than walls and bringing ceiling trays down to human scale with chocolate-brown paint. Texture creates interest throughout the monochromatic great room with Fabrica’s retro-modern nylon frieze rug, 5; lots of wenge-finished wood, 6, and stainless steel metals are used for an urban-sleek, jeweled effect. Riley wanted a lighter, fresher look than granite, so she clad kitchen countertops, 7, and oversized island in pale cream CaesarStone quartz, which resembles marble but is durable and maintenance-free. Riley replaced a clumsy pantry closet with custom kitchen armoire, 8, outfitted for grocery storage, creating a more spacious, open plan than the original builder layout. Etched-screen pendant, 9, lights above the bar soften the interior, as does the ambient light of a living area chandelier, 10, that uses low-intensity bulbs inside beautiful wax candle surrounds.

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