Back in Sarasota after 50 years


Kathleen Raskin came to Sarasota from Ohio at 17 to join the first class at New College. “Imagine coming to Florida as a teenager and then finding out the dorm wasn’t finished and we would have to live in the Landmark Hotel on Lido Beach,” said Raskin.




“We really thought we were in heaven. I loved this town and I loved my education; my major was in literature. I was in the first graduating class (1964), and then I went on to get another degree in social work and had a career as a licensed clinical social worker, specializing in group therapy and homeopathic education.”

raskin1Raskin’s profession took her to Boston for about two decades, and later to Boca Raton. She still has a limited practice in that east coast Florida town, but when her husband, Stephen, retired four years ago, they began to search for another place in Florida to call home.

“We came for a New College reunion and it took us about a day to realize that Sarasota was where we should be living,” said Kathleen. “It had everything on our checklist — the arts, a Jewish community, golf courses for Stephen, beautiful beaches, great restaurants and plenty of activities we could plug into.

“I am committed to yoga and I’m a student of ikebana, a Japanese art of floral arrangement. We travel, we love to entertain and we collect art. And, of course, I’ve connected with New College again. I’m on the reunion committee and take advantage of programs on campus.”

Kathleen Raskin describes the couple’s taste in architecture and interior design as “contemporary eclectic.” The interior of their architect-designed home — she describes it as rigid and modern — in Boca Raton was decorated by the couple themselves, and she determined to trust her eye in finding the right home in Sarasota. She rejected conventional. Stephen just wanted his own closet, an office, pool table and proximity to golf courses.

Kathleen found their home on the Internet and was drawn to the house’s saffron color, mature landscaping and the fact that it was on two acres and promised both rural privacy, but was a short drive to everything they needed or wanted. The home is in DeSoto Acres.

“Two men, Arthur Curry and Neil Crosswell, designed and built the house in 1994, and I admired what they did with it,” Kathleen said. “They used shell for the driveway and the walking paths, and the entire landscape is Florida-friendly.

“Inside, there is an airy loft-like quality to the layout. There are very few doors, almost no hallways, multiple skylights and so much natural light. The whole house is oriented to the pool pavilion, and when the sliders are open the two spaces become one. The floors are saltillo tile.

“It’s an indoor-outdoor home, all on one level, spacious and easy to live in. We’ve had parties here for 200 and it’s totally comfortable.”

The house had 3,500 square feet when the Raskins moved in, but the couple subsequently added an office and another full bath. They also closed in a lanai at the front of the home to make a media room with a gas fireplace.

To accomplish their design scheme, the homeowners took out the all-white traditional kitchen and transformed it into a contemporary space of grayish tones and a red backsplash that is reverse-painted glass. They updated the appliances and installed wall ovens, a cooktop, under-counter wine unit and pantry.

“For the interior space, I wanted contrast and color,” said Kathleen, “so I asked a designer for a color consultation and she advised using just three colors — chocolate, sage and alabaster with a pale celadon undertone. In some light, that alabaster comes across as green.

“I love color and I’m driven by it, but I have not strayed from those three wall colors. But for artwork and furniture, there is color and pattern everywhere in this house.”

Kathleen Raskin said she brought most of their furniture from Boca Raton and had some of it reupholstered.

“I don’t have collections per se, but I do have a lot of things that I’ve bought on trips to Asia,” she said, “and I pick up flower-arranging vessels because I’m a student of ikebana, which is a Japanese art of floral design. I buy artist-painted furniture, glass, ceramics, metal — things I see at art fairs or galleries.

“Stephen and I collect three artists: Allison Lefcort, Craig Tracey and Peter Fromme-Douglas. Most of their pieces are big, and I would say the art is what people notice first in the house. Then they notice all the color.”

Sometime after the Raskins moved in, Neil Crosswell came by to see the house and bring the Raskins the original plans and pictures taken during construction. Arthur Curry is deceased.

“I really owe them a debt of gratitude for conceptualizing such a contemporary home that fits so beautifully on the lot,” said Kathleen Raskin. “And before I forget, I need to mention the outdoor shower. Everyone who stays at our house wants to use it. There is just something about an outdoor shower at a Florida house that is absolutely irresistible.”


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: May 10, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.