Designing Mind / What’s Next?

By Ilene Denton June 1, 2010

Designing Mind

Shawn Dehart of Dehart Design Studio is a Sarasota native and 2000 graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design’s interior design program.

How do you approach interior design? Modern and streamlined is my preference. Less is more. I like to work with the bones of the existing space, play off what already exists architecturally, regardless of whether it’s Med Rev or mid-century modern. Both my grandparents were furniture and industrial designers. I’ve always had a passion for architecture, too; in the back of my mind I want to go back to school to get my master’s

in architecture.

Your best inexpensive fix? I ask people, “What can you do without?” [Often] clients get stuck in a rut. Over the years they’ve lived with the same layout that they clutter and clutter, and it loses its function. A fresh eye can come in and see things differently. Sometimes it’s a matter of helping them take everything out of the space and putting it back differently. The more clutter in your life, the busier your life becomes. For a few hours and a couple hundred dollars, we can come out and change their life.

Tell us about some trends you like. Recycled concrete. Some of the things you can do with it for countertops and floors are unbelievable; it looks like a million bucks without spending it. And I like fresh, spalike colors: blues, chocolate brown, green.

Your own home was featured on the ASID Designer Digs tour this spring. We have a home on Hillview Street east of the Trail on a little cul-de-sac; I was born seven houses down from it. It’s a three-bedroom, two-bath built in 1955; and we remodeled it in 2006. It started out with 1,000 square feet and we added 668 square feet, elaborating on the master bedroom and the kitchen.

What’s it like designwise? I had to remodel because the termites stopped holding hands; the back door was literally falling off its hinges. My goal was to bring a little bit of modernism but keep the ranch style of the ’50s. The exterior of the original house is one-by 10-foot cedar planks and the new part is stucco; it still relates to the neighborhood. Inside, the master bedroom and bath are one space. I used concrete countertops and a lot of wood—zebrawood, wenge and maple—because modern design can be cold, and wood warms it up.

Fill in the blank: It’s important to… bring the outside inside. In my house, we painted the walls white and did floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the landscaping inside the house. The home is surrounded by good old Florida native plants: ferns, elephant ears, mother-in-law tongues, live oaks and cabbage palms—nothing you have to maintain on a daily basis.

We hear you have an outdoor shower and you use it every morning. I do.

What’s Next?


The playful new Bloom Chair by award-winning Philippine furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue takes flower power to a whole new level—a perfect pop of color for a Sarasota garden setting. $2,465;

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