Refresh for a new family



Before Jill and Will Geisdorf bought their home on Field Road in Sarasota, they were renting a hip little downtown cottage close to restaurants, nightlife and all the cultural amenities that two busy young professionals could want.


“Then, it all changed,” said Jill Geisdorf, who is an interior designer with Chic on the Cheap in Sarasota. “We were going to have a baby, and almost overnight, our priorities switched to a nice big yard, a house in a family neighborhood, good school district, close to shopping — all of those kinds of things.

geis2“Will started looking at real estate listings online, and we both began seriously talking budgets. It was clearly time to put down roots.”

Will Geisdorf, who works for an investment research firm in Venice, found a home, in a desirable West-of-the-Trail Sarasota neighborhood. He believed they could afford it because it was a foreclosure property, and because the 2,000-square-foot house was built in 1958 and looked it.

It had the original terrazzo floors, old windows, a very old roof, nice yard (somewhat overgrown) on a third-of-an-acre lot, three bedrooms, two baths and a workable floor plan, even though the kitchen was small and closed off from the rest of the house. A bonus was that a previous owner had installed a swimming pool.

They bought the house last June, started renovating immediately while still living in their rented cottage, and moved into their “new” old house in October, just 11 days before Quinn Geisdorf was born. The blue and white nursery was ready.

“We realize there is work in this place to keep us in home-improvement projects for years to come,” said Will. “But it was a great buy for the neighborhood, and Jill was pretty sure that for $75,000, we could bring the house up to what it should be to fit our needs and lifestyle.”

They would end up spending closer to $100,000, which designer Jill will tell you is pretty typical when homeowners set a budget for a major renovation. Actual costs average 15 to 25 percent over the homeowner’s initial estimate. And some things are a downright luxurious splurge with homeowners disregarding the price tag.

“Our splurge was the custom walnut kitchen cabinets and quartz counters,” said Jill.

“We took down a wall to open the kitchen to the living room, but that meant that the kitchen is prominent when you walk into the house,” continued the designer. “I wanted the cabinetry, a combination of open shelves and closed storage, to be beautiful and to look like modern furniture.

“All the appliances are concealed, and I choose a rich walnut for the wood running the grain horizontally. The shelves are 14-inches deep instead of the standard 12 inches. Pots and pans are stored in deep drawers under the counter.”

The fully custom kitchen was done by Affinity Kitchen & Bath. “I took a lot of time deciding what I wanted and how the kitchen should look and function,” said Jill Geisdorf. “I’m so happy with how it turned out that I’ve brought young clients here to show them possibilities when dealing with an open-concept floor plan.”

Jill said she did realize some savings on the backsplash. “I went with classic white subway tile that I got at Lowe’s,” she said. “I used the same tile for the guest bathroom, I just used a different pattern in each room. It looks fresh, modern, and yet subway tile is classic. It doesn’t go out of style, and honestly you don’t have to pay a lot for it. My subway was 21 cents a tile.”

The Geisdorfs added a gas stove top to the kitchen island, which meant investing in a propane tank. They also installed can lights on dimmer switches, and they recessed the stainless-steel refrigerator into a niche they cut into a wall just for that purpose. Above the refrigerator is display space for art.

The wooden dining room table is from West Elm; the dining chairs (modern with a wishbone back) were a find on Amazon for $150 each.

Warm wood tones are repeated in the living room’s coffee table and the wood and metal ladder bookcases, which were another purchase from West Elm. Under the wall-mounted television is a high-gloss white console that’s from IKEA.

“It wasn’t expensive, but I made it look like a custom piece by taking off the legs and having it mounted to the wall,” said Jill. “Anytime you do this with a piece of stock furniture, you make it appear custom made for the space. And I got to adjust it to exactly the height that I wanted. I always tell clients not to be afraid to transform something standard into something special.”

In the guest bathroom, the homeowner-designer did something whimsical. “Will is a golfer so I got some yardage books, which are colored maps of each hole on a golf course. I cut them out and decoupaged them to the walls covering the entire room like wallpaper. It took me 10 hours of tedious work but it’s a one-of-a-kind bathroom now. The knob on the linen closet is a golf ball.”

The designer put wallpaper in the laundry room (a playful fish pattern) and she made a counter of butcher block on top of the side-by-side washer and dryer, increasing work space in the room. “I wanted quartz in there, but it was totally impractical, considering our budget, and now I actually like the wood, since it ties in with the walnut in the kitchen,” said the designer.

The walls in the public areas of the house are Benjamin Moore “White,” and the homeowners kept the terrazzo floors, but had them professionally refreshed. They used blue on the bedroom walls, a dark color called Kensington Blue for Quinn’s nursery, which gets a lot of natural light and a pale spa blue called Glass Slipper for the master bedroom. Both are Benjamin Moore colors. Honeycomb shades are on the windows with side drapery panels to soften the look and add both color and texture.

The furnishings throughout the home are contemporary-comfortable with a nod here and there to the midcentury era of the house. “We needed a bar and we found a midcentury console in an Orlando store called Atomic Junkies that has just the right proportions for our room,” said Jill. “The desk in our home office is a piece I bought many years ago at the Habitat ReSale Store. It’s falling apart, but I love its midcentury design so I keep patching it up.”

The homeowners will replace the windows and the roof over the next few years, and work on the landscaping of both the front and back yards continues.

So far, they’ve removed seven pine trees and installed a fence.

“We love the pool deck and have a little raised-bed garden out there where we grow eggplant, tomatoes and peppers,” said Jill.

“Eventually, we want to remove the pool cage and make the area an enlarged place for entertaining and relaxing. But the roof replacement will come first.

“We plan to be here for the next 25 years, so we’ve got time.”

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: April 10, 2015
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