Husband completes wife's vision for Longboat Key condo



In July of 2013, more than halfway through a condominium renovation that homeowners Micki and Ron Gamer and interior designer Barbara Gardner were collaborating on, tragedy intervened. Micki died of a heart attack. The couple had recently returned from an Alaskan cruise with children and grandchildren to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Once back, these Eden Prairie, Minn. residents, who spent four months a year at Seaplace, enthusiastically resumed their full-scale renovation of a 1,700-square-foot unit they bought early in 2013. Micki Gamer had a plan for the condominium that focused on incorporating lots of art into a comfortable but polished living scheme, and she lived to see more than half of her mental picture of the home turn into reality. But not all of it.

AHgamer1The Gamers had been coming to Longboat Key to vacation since 2002 and were planning to extend their time in Florida. The Seaplace condominium was the third one they had lived in (and redone) and they were making this one into a special place to showcase all the art they had collected in Sarasota, as well as Micki’s extensive collection of Swarovski crystal objects.

Micki Gamer’s plan was to incorporate some existing furniture and selected art into a new floorplan that would update and improve the condominium, which has spectacular Gulf views. She and designer Gardner (working with contractor Todd Shelley of Greyhawk Systems) decided to gut the kitchen and get rid of the dropped ceiling. They installed stainless steel appliances, vanilla-stained cabinetry and Gardner suggested a backsplash with the tiles running vertically.

“The ceilings here are standard eight feet and concrete, so there is nothing we could do with them except get rid of the popcorn texture,” said Gardner. “But one way to make the ceiling in the kitchen appear higher was to take a glass tile pattern that you’d usually see applied horizontally and run it vertically. It fools the eye and makes a huge difference.”

The homeowners and design team brought in glamorous sapele wood floors and they tiled the Gulf-side terrace. New windows and sliding glass doors, crown molding and some new pieces of furniture became part of the plan, too.

“The dining area table and chairs from Paris are really an investment piece and Micki got to see them,” said Gardner. “The design is contemporary but with a French Deco stylistic attitude, and the table top is inlaid walnut. Also in that space is a handsome chest that is a Dorothy Draper design and a piece that she used for the famous Greenbriar Hotel. It’s now manufactured and made available through Global Views. Ron keeps photo albums in it.”

The master bedroom became a game of making something old into something new. The Gamers loved their existing furniture and Gardner made them love it even more with updated custom upholstery. Chairs in the living room got the same treatment.

“One of the things that is so successful about all the furniture in the Gamers’ home is that it is scaled properly for a condominium of this size,” said the designer. “The rooms are airy but cozy and that feeling is because of achieving the right scale of furniture to room volume. When homeowners are out buying new furniture, they should avoid thinking in terms of big or small, but rather appropriate scale for the space.”

The color palette throughout the Gamers’ home is fairly neutral — golds, creams, pale greens and touches of red — because the homeowners wanted the focus to be the colorful paintings and sculpture they’d acquired locally. Special lighting in the condominium plays up the art.

“Micki was so passionate about art that when it came time to pick knobs for the kitchen cabinets, she approached it like an art assignment and eventually went with Alno hand-hammered oil-rubbed bronze ones. They are highly textural and certainly art for the cabinetry,” said the designer.

In the den, which can be closed off from the living room with French doors, Ron has his favorite Stressless chair. The custom area carpet in that room, a swirling modern pattern in golds and cream, was the original design of Micki Gamer and Barbara Gardner. The homeowner did not live to see it installed in the den.

“My wife had a clear vision of what our place would ultimately look like” said Ron, “and that’s why I’ve continued with this renovation. I thought a lot about stopping the whole thing and if I’d really want to live here without her, but I eventually realized that Micki would want it finished.

“I continued on working with Barbara as a tribute to Micki. Even though she never saw the finished result, I know Micki saw it in her mind right from the beginning.”

Ron Gamer has decided to keep the Seaplace retreat and to savor the memories of how he and Micki planned where they would put each piece of art. He is especially fond of the placement of the lighted display cabinet of sparkling little Swarovski crystal animals.


Marsha Fottler

Marsha Fottler has been a newspaper and magazine lifestyle, food and design writer since 1968 first in Boston and in Florida since 1970. She contributes to regional and national publications and she is co-publisher and editor of a monthly online magazine that celebrates the pleasures of the table called Flavors & More. (941) 371-8593.
Last modified: December 12, 2013
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.