A St. Armands Key home that can go the distance



Two years ago, Dr. Robert and Karen Hostoffer of Ohio bought an older home on St. Armands Key with the goal of creating a vacation destination for their family of seven, extended family and friends.

But while they were upgrading and reconfiguring the home into a customized Tuscan dwelling, they made careful and considered choices, because someday they intend to retire to Sarasota and enjoy their vacation retreat as their permanent residence.

starmanmainThey are part of a growing housing trend in this part of Florida — baby boomers who buy retirement homes a decade or so before they need them and use them in the meantime as vacation destinations.

To avoid costly mistakes, the Hostoffers hired interior designer Terrance Leaser to guide the process. He was recommended to them by the couple’s real estate agents Todd and Tamara Currey of Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Some of the work had to be done by long distance, so Karen needed someone who understood her vision for the design of the house, inside and out, and could collaborate with her by phone and email as well as in person,” said Leaser, this year’s house captain of the Boys & Girls Clubs Designer Showhouse.

“The family uses the house every month or so for long weekends, since that’s about as much time as the doctor’s busy practice allows. But other members of the family come at different times, too — college spring break, holidays, summer vacation. The furnishings had to be flexible, easy-care and comfortable because everyone comes here to relax and enjoy the beach.

“I shopped locally and online and narrowed down choices, presented them to Karen, and organized the project from start to finish. We kept the existing footprint of the 5,000-square-foot house, so there was no heavy construction involved. But we customized the house to the needs and tastes of the family.”

Karen Hostoffer debated different styles and settled on Tuscan over a traditional beach cottage look. And she didn’t want any wicker furniture. She chose a pale gold for the wall color, and that became a central shade of the color palette of the rooms. Leaser added caramel, various shades of orange, yellow and brown. The floors are a cream-colored stone.

“By using semi-gloss and eggshell finishes on the walls, we were able to achieve a luminous golden glow throughout that is very welcoming,” said the designer. “The entrance foyer is an artistic statement with a tray ceiling of 14-karat gold leaf done by Lara Lazenby. The tray ceiling is repeated in the master bedroom.”

The homeowners eliminated a formal dining room and living room from the floorplan in favor of an open-concept design. The spacious kitchen flows into the great room outfitted with practical leather furniture and accent pieces of wood and iron. The painting over the fireplace is by Steven Quartly, an artist whose works the Hostoffers collect.

The homeowners added new windows, and Leaser found 190 yards of sheer yellow-gold fabric for the windows that connect the family room to the eating area. Big mirrors with ornate old-world frames reinforce the Tuscan theme in almost every room.

“We also looked for hand-tooled leather objects, old iron, and beautiful glass for accessories,” said Leaser. “And the lighting was critical. We chose antique Italian-looking chandeliers of iron and colored glass, some of them with a cross motif. I got most of the chandeliers at Fine Art Chandeliers in Miami, which does limited-edition fixtures and they’re made in the U.S.”

The area rugs in the home are from Rugs As Art and the leather sofa in the family room is from Kalin’s.

While designer Leaser was transforming the interior of the home, Hazeltine Nursery created Italianate gardens outside to frame the home and provide green views from the inside. The company redid exterior spaces so that the home is a seaside palazzo with colorful gardens that can be seen from every window in the house.

“Doing the house with Terrance was actually great fun,” Karen Hostoffer said. “Terrance has a great eye, and now the house and grounds make sense in the surrounding neighborhood. It’s a beautiful and comfortable retreat for our whole family, whether we come separately or together. But, what is really wonderful is that we now have the house we want to retire to. We can love and enjoy it now and know that when we’re empty nesters and are ready to leave Ohio for Sarasota, our house is here waiting and we won’t have to do a thing to it.”


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: February 7, 2014
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