Mid-century Siesta beach house is right at home in 2014



When Jay Gordon bought a badly updated 1953 beach house in the coveted Siesta Key enclave of Sanderling in 2012, he already owned a vacation house in the neighborhood that his Pennsylvania family used several times a year. But in his view, this one had a better location.




And he believed it could be brought back to its mid-century modern style, more in keeping with the spirit of Sanderling and the iconic beach club and cabanas designed by Paul Rudolph, beginning in 1952. Those two sets of structures are on the National Register of Historic Places.

sanderling1As a private neighborhood, Sanderling began in the 1940s. Atlanta developer Elbridge Boyd had a vision for a waterside community of homes whose buyers would be sensitive to the local ecology, and would seek to preserve it. The 110 properties in Sanderling front the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Bay or Heron Lagoon, and each home is designed to maximize views of water and nature. Dense foliage, winding paths and a guard house ensure privacy.

When Gordon and his interior designer, Jill Geisdorf, toured the fixer-upper house and grounds to devise a strategy for renovation, they ticked off the client’s mandates along with cosmetic and structural changes that would be needed.

“Jay wanted to make sure the rooms were open and airy and that they could accommodate a lot of original art, some that he’d bring from Pennsylvania and some that he would purchase locally just for this house,” said Geisdorf, who met Gordon through his Realtor.

“The house is 2,700 square feet and was added onto by a previous owner,” continued the designer. “Things we loved were the pitched roof, high cypress ceilings with beams, natural light and concrete floors, which we kept but lightened and polished. When the house was built the floors were terra cotta tiles.”

The floor plan was awkward and the whole place had been furnished against type. “There was lots of chintz and cozy cottage furniture that was all wrong for the modern architecture,” said Geisdorf.

sanderling2Besides an all new interior design scheme, ceiling fans and light fixtures needed replacing. Doors were added (privacy to the master bedroom wing and another from the den to the pool pavilion) and spaces were reconfigured to maximize the outdoor views and to provide space to display art. The designer reconfigured the kitchen, making it larger and more functional by eliminating an island and adding a peninsula.

Additionally, the homeowner added a swimming pool at the front of the home and had the landscaping completely redone by Patrick Bogacz.

“Jay was totally involved in every phase of the renovation,” said the interior designer from the firm Chic on the Cheap.

“We shopped together for furniture, and when he wasn’t in town I’d email him photos and we’d talk by phone. Jay has a huge appreciation for art. That art appreciation extends to things such as the living room sofa, which is a Della Robbia that we found at Home Resource, and things such as the design of the light fixtures, dining room table and the chairs.

“Some things came from his existing residences and we painted and repurposed them; other things we bought at local stores or we shopped online. Part of my design challenge was integrating new and existing pieces since I wanted the scale to be consistent.”

The renovation budget was approximately $100,000, not including furniture and art.

The whole master bedroom came from IKEA. The dining room chairs are from Kalin’s, the kitchen pendants from Franklin Lighting. The fans were an online purchase. The house has four bedrooms and three baths, but one of the bedrooms is used as a den that has access to the swimming pool.

“Because there is so much colorful art in the house and some colorful pieces of furniture too, it was important to keep the walls and floors calm and neutral,” explained Geisdorf.

“I used Benjamin Moore White Dove for the walls and Sherwin Williams Extra White for trim throughout most of the house. The ceilings in some rooms aren’t white because the ceilings are a real feature here and I wanted to call attention to them. Anytime you’re doing a beach house — whether it’s modern or vintage — white paint is your friend. It’s fresh, clean and it doesn’t compete with art inside or the beautiful views of nature and water outside.”

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: January 16, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.