Precisely targeted renovation transforms a home



A family of five had lived in Sarasota's Oyster Bay neighborhood for seven years when a bigger house one street over became available. "We moved because we needed more space," said the wife. "It was a two-story modified Colonial Revival built in 1971, in wonderful condition. It was perfect for us at the time. We had breathing room and were able to stay in the neighborhood that we love."

That was nine years ago, and in the intervening time, the small kitchen with limited counter space, the unused formal dining room, the awkwardly configured master bathroom, and the fact that their son had no place for his drum kit and that dad wanted a designated place for exercise equipment started adding up to a house that was getting less and less perfect. Rather than move again, the family decided on a targeted remodel that would open up the downstairs and rework neglected areas into something functional.

crop1They found interior designers to guide their vision when they went to a party next door. "I admit I experienced house envy," said the wife. "Their renovation was amazing and I asked who did it. That's when I called Mark Dalton and Jill Brunson. And for the next year we met twice a month to define right down to the smallest detail what we needed to make this house function for us. We didn't start tearing down walls until we all agreed on the concept, the style, the flow, materials, just everything."

When the plan was ready to be executed, the family moved to a condominium on Siesta Key and Dalton and Brunson got busy bringing the vision to life.

"Originally, it was the kitchen area," said Mark Dalton. "But, when you work on older homes, there are always surprises that can increase a budget and alter a plan. It happened when we were ripping out walls and we realized there were pinhole leaks in the copper plumbing. The homeowners decided to install new pipes. So, while plumbers were replacing all of them, the homeowners opted to update their master bathroom since it was going to be torn up anyway. We didn't increase the space in that room, but reconfigured everything to give our clients efficient space, including a pull-out vanity for the wife. It's concealed within a built-in armoire. A tiny tub was replaced with a free-standing claw foot one and the whole room is sheathed in luxurious white Carrara marble."

In the kitchen area, the construction team removed five walls, added a structural beam, eliminated a hallway, got rid of the formal dining room, separate breakfast room and reworked the laundry room. The designers stole space from the extra-large garage to make a mud room where every member of the family has a hook, cubbyhole and deep drawer beneath a long bench.

crop2Dalton calls the room the drop spot. "You come in from the garage and just drop everything from school or shopping," he said. "There is a designated place for everything so the room always looks neat and everybody can find what they need." Off the mud room is the man cave with a rubber floor. It's an exercise room, the drummer's room and it has an adjoining bathroom.

The kitchen area from front door to garage door is now 35 feet of uninterrupted space and accommodates a dining area, kitchen with three sink areas and built-in pantry, beverage center and mud room. The cabinets are a modified Shaker style with a combination of glass cabinets, open glass shelving and closed cabinetry. The bin pulls and potato knobs are gleaming chrome. The backsplash, which extends from counter height to the ceiling, is white Carrara marble. Besides the double-basin farmhouse sink, there are two other sink areas in the kitchen.

"The husband pushed for the extra sinks because he and the kids like to work in the kitchen and he wanted separate areas for prep, for cooking and for washing up," said designer Jill Brunson. "The center island is a great work space because it's 10 feet long and has a microwave built in, as well as lots of cabinets and electrical outlets. It's so beautiful, it works as a buffet when the family entertains."

The homeowners opted for a gas Wolf stove and brought in a propane tank since the neighborhood doesn't have natural gas. The kitchen design is a compromise of modern, the husband's choice, and traditional, which is the wife's preference. They agreed on white for the color since it visually increases the size of the kitchen and the wife had her heart set on white Carrara marble. The resulting look is fresh, warm and sophisticated.

crop3To bring the surrounding rooms up to the standards of the kitchen, the designers replaced the window treatments and some of the furniture in the family room, redid the staircase and replaced the front door. There are new chandeliers in the foyer and over the dining table.

"The dining set used to be in a separate formal room and we never ate there," said the wife. "Now, we use our table every night. Mark reupholstered the chair seats to match the bar chairs. Everything in this new open space is ideal for the way the five of us live. I've even got two drawers in the kitchen that are empty. Previously, I was using the garage to store a lot of my kitchen items. There isn't one thing we'd change about this gorgeous and efficient space. Now, we've got the perfect house."


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, 2013
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