Eye Candy

By Ilene Denton Photography by Gene Pollux February 1, 2010

ec.jpgBursts of bright, cotton-candy blue punctuate interior designer Sally Trout’s latest project, a Gulf-front vacation condominium in Seaplace on Longboat Key. Happy choice, since her clients—who prefer to stay out of the local spotlight—are co-owners of a major national candy company known for its eye-popping colors and soft, animated shapes.

Plump, whimsically curved aqua chairs and sofa, unusual granite kitchen countertops flecked with aqua and blue-green, glass-tile bathroom walls and floors in a rainbow of blues all “look like candy—delicious,” says Trout; even the sand-toned tile floors sport blue and aqua glass insets. “I listen to what my clients want” before making suggestions, says the longtime Sarasota designer, who’s known for her playful way with color. “They were very receptive and very adventuresome. We had a lot of fun.”

“We like bright colors; we’re not the type to wear black a lot,” the wife says, “and we wanted it beachy, a reminder of the water right by us. Sally suggested the blue, and we embraced it as soon as she brought it to us.”  

She admits that her husband—who, with his cousin, is the owner of the candy company founded by their grandfather—could more easily visualize the interior designer’s bold concept than she, and, energized by it, was eager to bring his own ideas to the table. “Sally had the same sort of vision as my husband,” she says. “She’s fearless when it comes to color. And if he suggested something that wouldn’t work or would look ridiculous, she would tell us so.”

Trout OK’d one sentimental detail: A wall sconce equipped with a lit-from-behind vellum sheet upon which was printed an Indian design now sports something much closer to home, an image of their trademark candy that glows whenever the wall sconce is lit.

Seaplace has been a favorite vacation destination for the couple for more than 30 years, ever since, on a break from law school, they took a car trip “headed somewhere in Florida and saw an intriguing spot on the map,” says the wife. They ended up at the Four Winds on Longboat Key. “We loved it and came back from time to time over the years,” she says. “When my parents, who lived in Chicago, were looking for a winter residence in the late ’70s, they bought at Seaplace.” She says they appreciate escaping from their gray Pennsylvania winters and are avid beach walkers and “suckers for good sunsets.”

The couple purchased this condo three years ago, and took their time contemplating how to adapt it to fit their needs. “It felt very ’70s vanilla,” says Trout, “a typical Florida vacation condo with lots of mirrors and almond cabinets with a fluorescent-light dome ceiling in the kitchen. When you walked in you were greeted by a wall.” Knocking out two walls in the kitchen opened it up to both the living room and the former tiny third bedroom, which has been transformed into a dining area. “Now when you walk in you get the whole vista, which was our goal,” says Trout.

Because the newly free-flowing kitchen is now so integral to the living space, Trout designed the custom kitchen cabinetry, made by Eurotech Cabinetry, with a driftwood finish. “We wanted it very natural-looking, neutral, no high gloss, so that everything flows with the environment,” she says. The kicker was her choice of countertops, “very unusual, very exotic” Van Gogh granite with swirls of aqua and blue-greens. “You can’t even get it anymore,” she says.

Trout carried out the organic feel even further by adding a curved detail in the kitchen and living room ceilings and hanging twinkling starlights from Light Up Your Life. They add dazzle to the already eye-popping circular area rug that was custom made by Sylvan Garrett. The couple commissioned the vivid floral painting in the living room from David Steiner at State of the Arts Gallery. It’s by Sarasota artist Dasha Reich, and she named it Marie Antoinette after the Kirsten Dunst film of a few years ago, in which costumes and sets were confectionery pink, blue and green, like old-fashioned postcards.

In the adjacent dining area, a built-in cabinet sports fronts made of turquoise capiz shells embedded in resin. “It’s very dramatic and ties everything together,” the designer says.

Trout had more fun in the baths. In the master bath, glass block walls in the shower reflect textured glass tile floors in a checkerboard blue-on-blue pattern. And in the guest bath, glass tiles in all shades of blue play out in a mosaic pattern. Both baths sport countertops made of shimmery blue Avonite that resembles sea glass.

The homeowners were dream clients, says Trout. “They knew what they liked, and they’re very in tune with using the best quality. They have a great sense of humor, and [the husband] always brought big bags of candy every time they came to visit.”  

“We couldn’t be happier,” the wife says—sweetly, of course. “It’s the best place in town.”

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