Design trends you can steal from Parade of Homes



Though the exteriors range from Tuscan to British West Indies to Craftsman, model homes’ interiors are going cool on the 2015 Parade of Homes.





“Everybody wants more of the cool colors — the grays, the blues,” said contractor Rob Allegra, whose Allegra Homes is among the building companies redeveloping Sarasota’s West of the Trail neighborhood with new luxury residences.

“They are trending away from the traditional Mediterraneans, which are the earth tones and the rust colors,” said Allegra. “Designers are going into the light colors.”

teal1“The days of a ‘Florida Med’ are past,” said John Cannon, of John Cannon Homes.

In Allegra’s Southside model, Wisteria Street at Osprey Avenue in Sarasota, Rob and Kristi Allegra teamed with John Fleming of Kalin’s to create a bright but not blinding interior that impresses — from the porcelain tile floor to the dramatic domed ceiling in the living room.

“The floor is a porcelain tile with a driftwood, beachy feel — a coastal feel with an expensive look,” Rob Allegra said. “People want a casual feeling, but they want it nice.”

Allegra is building at the upper price point — the Southside is $1.8 million, as shown. But the same design influences seen in his models are reflected in lower-cost production homes, too.

“On the exteriors, we look at what the competition is doing,” said Kathy Forinash, design director at Neal Communities. “The architectural styles are changing. The Tuscan is taking the place of the old Mediterranean. It has similar architectural details, but the stone element is something that is added. And the color palette is different. On Meds, you see more golds and red roofs, where the Tuscan has darker roofs and more neutral walls.”

Builders who show Tuscan models have accented them with stone.

“We have a mix of ledge stones and field stones on our Tuscan elevations, more of a European look, so you are going to get the darker color palettes with that,” Forinash said.

“Everyone is trending darker, depending on the architectural style. We try to stay true to the architecture with the color palette.”

Where did all those stones come from? A factory, said John Cannon.

“Most of it is cultured stone,” he said. “It is a wonderful product that has uniform thickness and is easy to install. It doesn’t weather. It is cast stone, a concrete product made locally.”

Regardless of the architectural language used, model homes tend to be adorned with corbels, brackets, quoins and other details. These are applied ornaments, not functional structures.

“The trend is for more than just a front facade,” Cannon said. “You are seeing the corbels and the rafter tails, and we are continuing them on all four sides. That is a trend that is here to stay, rather than just putting the money on the front of the house.”

While the houses make dramatic statements at the street elevation, the back side is where the action is. Patios have gotten roomier, with more comfortable furnishings and “summer kitchens” centered around a large, stainless-steel grill.

“You see extended patios, fire pits and grills,” Forinash said. “They make them nice, with comfortable furniture.”

In high-end models, pool cages may have “clear-view” screens that span up to 34 feet without posts or beams to mar the view.

Pools, which tend to be small and suitable only for wading or floating, often have gently sloped walk-in areas to mimic the beach.

Back inside, decor is taking on a more contemporary look, with influences from modern architecture, especially in the kitchens. Mosaic tile backsplashes and stainless range hoods have become standard equipment.

“A lot of our buyers are going to a more clean-line, modern look,” said Neal Communities’ Forinash. “We are seeing that from our younger buyers on up. When the market came back several years ago, people got simpler, with a cleaner look.

“Everyone use to have high bars in the kitchens, and now all the islands are lowered to countertop height, and they are all getting bigger,” she said. “If you don’t see that trend in a house, then the house looks outdated. The buyers catch on to that pretty quick. There are so many design magazines showing the latest trends. Buyers get online and watch TV and they pretty much know” the latest trends.

Accent areas on the walls are not being painted in bold colors, as had been the trend for nearly a decade. In Allegra’s Southside, drama is provided by textures, not coatings. The television in the living room is backed with darkly stained horizontal wood siding, while in the man cave, birch twigs are cross-cut into half-inch lengths and glued to a backing mat to provide a textured finished around the wall-mounted TV.

“There are not many accent paints,” Rob Allegra said. “Not too long ago, we were accenting the niches and the recesses (with paint), and now we are going into a monochromatic style of decorating with key focal points — the stained woods, gray tones.”

In the man cave, the birch is joined by a stainless-steel backsplash on the wet bar. “The contrast in both colors and dimensions is really where we are going,” Allegra said. “We are picking up the colors in the accent areas, but not accenting them with paint. There are a lot of textures.”

The Southside model has with 3,377 square feet, most of it on the first floor. The pool area creates a secluded oasis, although busy Osprey Avenue is just 25 feet away on the other side of a privacy wall.

Allegra doesn’t mind the traffic, especially that which finds its way into his model. Although hundreds of people toured models at The Concession on the opening weekend of the Parade of Homes (Feb. 21-March 8), Allegra reported lighter traffic at his model. But he is not complaining. “It is quality traffic,” he said.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: March 3, 2015
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