Designer Showhouse 2014: Now through Feb. 16


A view through the manicured front gardens to the home of Allison and Peter Scanlan on Alameda Avenue in Sarasota. The Scanlans turned their home over to area design professionals to transform into 23 imaginative spaces for the 19th annual Jewels on The Bay Designer Showhouse. Proceeds from ticket sales for tours of the home benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota Manatee. (STAFF PHOTO / THOMAS BENDER)


What: Jewels on The Bay Designer Showhouse.
Where: 2145 Alameda Ave., Sarasota.
When: Jan. 19 through Feb. 16.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 4 Sundays.
Tickets: $25 (cash or check) at the door.
Information: 941-780-1790.
Home price: $3,385,000.
Realtor: Nora Johnson, Michael Saunders & Company. 941-809-1700.


A big and beautiful home on Sarasota Bay is effectively hidden behind high walls and an elaborate privacy garden.

But for one month, it is open to the public as a gallery of ideas and design techniques for making the most of residential spaces.

The spacious, two-story home of Allison and Peter Scanlan is the 19th annual Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse.

The month of public tours, the proceeds of which benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota-Manatee, begins today. More than two dozen local design professionals have donated time and talent to making the 2014 Showhouse an elegant gallery for new ideals in residential decor — both inside and outside — in rooms that are high-styled in contemporary, eclectic, classical and whimsical installations sure to invite imitation, or at least supply inspiration, for homeowners considering remodeling projects both large and small.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more photos of the Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse

You can learn from these showhouse rooms, or just buy the whole house. It’s for sale for $3,385,000 through Nora Johnson of Michael Saunders & Co.

Chuck Bolton, chair of the 2014 Designer Showhouse project (and the creator of the jewel-tone green formal dining room), wants the public to know that a showhouse differs from a model home or a residence that has been done by a commissioned interior designer.

“A model home or a custom-designed one flows and expresses continuity of theme, color palette and client personality throughout,” he said. “It’s a harmonious whole. A showhouse is completely different. Each designer initiates a vision of the space and transforms that room into his or her particular vision. It doesn’t relate to other rooms of the house and it is quite a personal statement because the designer doesn’t have a client to consider.”

If a home is a novel with chapters that advance the plot, a showhouse is more like a collection of essays, each one self-contained.

In the Scanlan home, both Cheri Neary and Tom Stanley independently decided on an Asian theme, and the two upstairs spaces couldn’t be more different or less typical. Stanley lived in Asia, and that’s where his inspiration originated. Neary uses things in her room that were collections of her grandmother and mother. Her color palette for the room comes from the wool and silk Tabriz antique carpet on the wood floor. The shocking pink on a pair of armchairs might surprise visitors.

Showhouse captain Terrance Leaser discovered a carved mahogany headboard is a local resale shop and knew he had found his muse for a guest room done in black and white. “This room is restful, sophisticated, and it demonstrates to homeowners what you can do with a mix of black and soft white fabrics and black furniture,” said the designer.

“The room is made to be equally appealing to men and women, which is what you want in a guest room. The important fabric — the one that makes the room work — is the mattress ticking. This room has a balcony and the furniture out there is black, too, with a hanging lantern that is from an Addison Mizner estate in Palm Beach. It’s a prize possession of mine.”

Downstairs, in what used to be the Scanlans’ library, designers Jeff and Joyce Hart re-imagined the space as a chic and contemporary gray and lavender salon with wonderful views of the Bay.

“We took the doors off the built-in cabinet and made it a display space,” said Jeff Hart, “then we bought in a serpentine sofa and other modern pieces that we’ve balanced with an Old-World mirror and accessories in glass and reflective metal. The over-scaled contemporary painting by David Steiner ties everything together.”

Color is what everyone notices about a showhouse, especially paint treatments. This year’s design team agrees that the Gray Cashmere (Benjamin Moore) color, chosen by designers Holly Dennis, Susan Scholz and Kelsey McKiernan for their guest retreat, is everyone’s favorite.

“I actually had this color in my house,” said Scholz, “and we all loved it for the Scanlan house. It reads different in changing light, but it always seems just right for Sarasota homes. It’s essentially a neutral, but with life to it. I absolutely know people touring the house are going to ask about it.”

In the breakfast area off the open-concept kitchen, designer Louise Stewart painted an exuberant coral accent wall. “My inspiration was actually lobsters and shrimp,” she said. “I thought about the bay views, delicious seafood, and the good life in Florida, and I think the cheerful and casual nature of the space expresses all that.”

The huge shell mirrors throughout the home are the work of homeowner Allison Scanlan, and some of the Scanlans’ furniture and collectibles have been borrowed by designers for various rooms and outdoor spaces. The Scanlan family members decamped in early January and are renting a place on Siesta Key for the duration of the tour. They may not return to the house, as it is for sale.

The couple and their six children moved from Greenwich, Conn., to Sarasota and bought their home on Alameda Avenue in 2004. They immediately took to the Old Florida, family-oriented neighborhood feel, the peaceful gardens, the water views and the loveliness of old oak trees that define the personality of their street. Now, with only one child left at home, the Scanlans are ready to downsize.

The house is nearly 7,000 square feet and the outdoor living areas bring the property to nearly 10,000 square feet on over an acre of bayfront land. The house is set far back from the street behind a wall. The approach to the house — some 600 feet of a winding paver pathway — terminates in a stairway up to the front door. Inside, a sweeping, curving staircase ascends to the second floor. There is no elevator in the house, something that potential tour-goers should consider.

The front garden, which is like a big park, has been refreshed by landscape architect Kurt Crist for the tour, and it is indeed special. The garage is a gift shop, because most things in the showhouse are for sale (there’s a list in each room of prices), and there are additional accessories and furniture in the shop from various designers’ showrooms around town.

Throughout the tour month, designers will be in their rooms for a few hours each day to answer questions from the public and give design tips on turning your home into something you would be happy to show off.

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 20, 2014
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