Designing Mind

By Ilene Denton January 1, 2010

Longtime Sarasota designer Jeff Hart is chair of the 15th annual “Jewels on the Bay” Showhouse for Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Manatee counties, which premieres this month with rooms by 26 designers displayed in two contrasting Longboat Key homes: a Tim Seibert-designed Sarasota School of Architecture home on Dream Island Road built in 1958, and a 1980s-era contemporary two-story residence behind the gates of the Longboat Key Club. (See “Jewels on the Bay”)

What can we expect at the Showhouse?

Visitors are going to be surprised at the color. In the Seibert house we’re using the terra-cotta color family inspired by the original terrazzo floors and the sand-colored Ocala block, which most of the home is constructed in. The other house features variations on some interesting and almost shocking greens; some are sharp and very acid, and others are a little bluer, softer and more watercolor in look. The home fronts onto a golf course lake and has a great deal of glass, so the indoors and outdoors are seamless; the designers were very keen to bring in that exterior color family.

Which house are you working in?

I’m doing the living room-dining room in the Seibert house because I grew up in that time period, and I love that architecture and design. The house I grew up in, my parents furnished in that style. They bought all-new furniture in 1949 and 1950, so what I thought of as home was very modern furniture—it wasn’t overstuffed Grandma’s furniture at all. Most of the people involved in that space are treating it as closely as possible as a mid-century modern project.

And the Longboat Club Road theme?

It’s being done as a luxurious, textural, very contemporary—meaning right at the moment—house.

You’re considered a dean of the Sarasota design community.

I came to Sarasota from Orlando in 1965 to attend the Ringling School of Art and Design, and went to work for Kanes after I graduated in 1968. I joined my wife, Joyce, at Robb & Stucky 16 years ago.

How have design trends changed here over the years?

The most important change is the scale. The mid-century scale was quite linear and very human scale—not big. As the houses got bigger, so did the furniture. We are seeing a turn away from that, returning to what I call the international modern style. Our clients want it simpler and smaller, and there’s a lot of interest in doing things that are typically what we think of as old Florida: tropical prints, rattan wicker. It’s very interesting. —Ilene Denton

What’s next? METALLICA

Move over, faux painting; the hot new wallcoverings are made of torn pieces of hand-painted metallic paper, says Cheri Pachter-Neary of Design Group Sarasota, one of two design captains of this month’s “Jewels on the Bay” Showhouse. “The torn look is extremely interesting,” she says. “It’s so different that it draws attention, but it’s subtle enough that, if you keep the colors quiet, it creates a nice background texture without shouting; you can put important art on it.” Look for it in the family room Pachter-Neary has designed for the Showhouse’s Longboat Club Road residence. z

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