One Great Room

By Carol Tisch Photography by Gene Pollux June 1, 2010

A Room for All Seasons

When interior designer Anne Folsom Smith and architect husband Frank Folsom Smith bought a 1894 Cracker-style home at the edge of Sarasota Bay, they envisioned a warm, comfortable family room off the kitchen. The problem: Like many older houses, theirs had a living room but no family room. That triggered a major remodeling project and the opportunity to create the room of their dreams from scratch.

“We didn’t want to lose the charm by making it into a big house. But if we didn’t do the add-on, there would be no family room,” Anne Folsom Smith says of the soaring but comfortable space. “It’s an all-season room, and what we love most is its brightness. When it’s 50 degrees, we love a roaring fire in the fireplace, and when it’s 85, we watch the sun as it moves through the room.”

A big attraction at the recent ASID of Southwest Florida Designer Digs event, the room drew visitors who found a place filled with powerful works by local artists and minimal but easy-to-maintain furnishings that allow the stunning architecture and wood finishes to shine. So how did two high-powered designing minds work together on a project so personal? “We tried to stay out of each other’s hair,” Folsom Smith recalls.


Ahead of the current trend to oversized square coffee tables 1 by 20-plus years, Folsom Smith spotted the talent of Sarasota metal and glass artist Virginia Hoffman while Hoffman was a student at Ringling College and commissioned her to create the custom piece. In counterpoint to contemporary furnishings, the structured but neutral-toned Tufenkian area rug 2 from Rugs as Art has a Turkish feel, creating the eclectic mix the couple wanted to achieve. Sectional sofas 3 by Directional, originally covered in pale neutral leather, were reupholstered in a darker, more practical commercial-quality wool texture from Knoll and placed on the diagonal to open up the room. Architect Frank Folsom Smith designed a special alcove to frame a brilliantly colored 1960s triptych by Syd Solomon 4, the renowned Sarasota artist who was responsible for an influx of artists to the city in the ’60s.   An intriguing metal sculpture 5 crowning the room’s fireplace was created by Vicky Randall, another former Ringling student the designer has retained to create custom works for her clients’ homes. Iconic limed oak game table and chairs 6 from Knoll are by architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose Mission style is as practical as it is beautiful and timeless in the eclectic family room. The Smiths are avid orchid and bromeliad collectors, and their home is filled with plants 7, not just for their beauty but for the oxygen they emit. Palms give the family room a regal look.

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