50 shades of gray, and then some



The 20th Anniversary Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse, which is on Siesta Key this year, is a massive project in which the homeowners and about 20 local design professionals explored all the many colors that gray can be.

Gallery is right here for your viewing pleasure.

Inside, outside and on all three floors of this 6,000-square-foot home, belonging to British couple Jocelyn and Tom Maxfield, there is gray. And more gray. The exterior of the contemporary home is sheathed in a Benjamin Moore color called Eagle Rock. Inside, the walls, ceiling, doors and all the trim are cloaked in Silver Fox.

show1“It’s unusual for the ceilings, walls and all the trim to be in one color from room to room,” said Showhouse chairman Terrance Leaser, “but then this is an unusual home to be sure. Soft gray is the backdrop for everything, including most of the gray furniture and flooring and accessories.”

He said guests will see how sophisticated and beautiful a monochromatic color scheme can be.

“In the house, our design team has used cool and warm grays, and every shade and hue, from the palest dove and pearl to the deepest charcoal and gun metal,” Leaser said. “For an accent color, strong pink is used in creative, whimsical ways.”

The Designer Showhouse opens its glamorous, custom-designed ash front doors (designed by Aldo Boldi) to the public on Monday for public tours through Feb. 15. Proceeds from the ticket price of $25 benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County.

In the event tour-goers want to return home with lots of gray furniture and objects for their own homes, there’s a list a what can be purchased at the entrance to each room and a boutique is set up in the garage of this Midnight Pass Road home.

The spec house was built 15 years ago, and the Maxfields bought it. At the time, Terrance Leaser was their designer. A little over a year ago, the homeowners decided to tackle a top-to-bottom renovation, taking the home from its original Mediterranean style to a high-end contemporary design. Because the house was going to be torn up for months and not habitable, Leaser proposed the idea of it becoming a Designer Showhouse for a month before the Maxfields claimed their totally redone residence. They liked the idea of the charity aspect and signed on.

But, these homeowners wanted more input than is usual in most Sarasota showhouse projects. Jocelyn Maxfield is a designer and she drove the overall contemporary style direction, starting with the Silver Fox paint color. Local designers, who volunteered for the project, collaborated with her on achieving a specific, unified vision.

Consequently, the house has a consistent flow. Rooms relate to one another in terms of style, color and materials. This makes for a showhouse that differs from past years when each room could be the individual design statement of an interior designer. This home has continuity, and it’s undeniably stunning. But, tour-goers have to be open to contemporary design and willing to evaluate a lot of gray to fully appreciate each spectacular room.

“Texture and accessories became important tools for the designers,” said Cheri Neary, who did a guest bedroom using lots of mirrored surfaces, crystal beads, silver-tone furniture and custom bedding to achieve a look that is romantic and gets the most out of shimmering gray fabrics.

In the media room, Jeff and Joyce Hart promoted strong architectural features, such as the raised-hearth, gray concrete fireplace and TV wall. They brought in art work and accessories in various shades of strong pink to play off against the gray tones.

The dining room, by Dagmar Bartlett, is a study of silvery tones, glass and reflected light. The room overlooks the zero-edge swimming pool and Sarasota Bay.

In the billiard room that leads to a dreamy and modern spa-like lanai by Cameron Cox, designer Tom Stanley was faced with the homeowners’ billiards table in a light oak stain. Working with an all-gray background, Stanley knew the color of the table couldn’t stay. He acquired a quart of very expensive black paint, and using both a brush and roller, transformed the table into a focal point.

One of the smallest rooms in the huge house is likely to attract lots of attention from tour-goers. It’s a windowless powder room on the main floor. Designer Marla Oppenheim, who is the Showhouse captain, wrapped the bottom half of the room in patterned corrugated metal. But wait, it isn’t. Touch the surface and it’s a flat tromp l’oeil metallic wallpaper. The ceiling in this room is metallic-coated grasscloth; the fixtures are high-end spa-modern; and mirrors wrap the top half of the tiny room to visually expand the space.

It’s gray, all right, and it’s little and it’s only a powder room. But, what impact. A lot of tour-goers are going to want that wallpaper.

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 17, 2015
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