Two lavish homes featured in Sarasota-area showcase



Two big and glamorous homes, both on the same tony street on St. Armands Key and both for sale, provide a blank canvas for local interior designers to express concepts of gracious living, using techniques, tricks and products that the touring public can take home and try. Or you could just hire one of the designers whose room you admire.

The two homes, one contemporary and one Mediterranean revival, comprise the 18th Annual Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse, organized and produced as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee and Sarasota Counties. The grand tour starts today and runs through Feb. 17.. Hours are 1o a.m. to 4 p.m., noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Ticket price to tour both homes is $20. [To see a photo gallery of the homes, click on this link.]

RShowhouse20Chair of this year's Designer Showhouse is Keffie Lancaster; this is her 10th official showhouse project, although she says that's deceptive. "Actually, I've been involved with showhouses since I was a little girl helping my mom, Bonnie Lancaster, tote things in and out and learning things from her and all the other designers. This year mom and I collaborated on the kitchen and dining room in the Mediterranean home, and we've styled both rooms to look like the owners of the home are getting ready to host a dinner party. It's that moment just before the doorbell rings. Everything is sparkling and ready."

The 6,700-square-foot, two-story home is owned by Bob and Lisa Morris. It was built in 1997 and is for sale at $3.7 million. They (and their furniture) moved out two weeks ago to make way for painters, wallpaper hangers, furniture movers, tile and wood flooring experts, cabinet installers, lighting professionals and the designers themselves. Lisa and Bob Morris won't have their home back until the end of February.

In the formal living room, Jeff and Joyce Hart advanced the color scheme of gray, taupe, black, cream and white to harmonize with the great room, kitchen and dining room. The emphasis is on form rather than strong color, and the handsome sculptural leather Chesterfield sofa in a shade of dark pewter is an example of that.

"The two French side chairs are also all about form," said Joyce Hart. "We found them at the Woman's Exchange and had them reupholstered.

"As touring guests look around this room, they should notice the sculptural qualities of the mirror, lamps and tables. The room is chic but comfortable, and we arranged everything around the owner's baby grand piano."

RShowhouse20The laundry room, which Keffie Lancaster admitted is the size of her bedroom at home, is the work of first-time showhouse designer Susanna Stock, who envisions it as an extension of a garden environment. No one could complain about having to load the washer or fold clothes in this charming space.

In an upstairs bedroom, Terrance Leaser has a green theme going. He challenged himself to see how many patterns he could get into the room and still have everything harmonize in a restful way. Wide peridot and cream stripes on the wall befriend gingham checks, florals, geometrics, toile and solid colors to make a room that has enormous visual interest, from the half-tester crown above the bed to the padded headboard, to the clever, wall-mounted, demi-lune bedside tables. They take up no floor space but get the job done with wit and practicality.

Designers who put together the Mediterranean revival home are Barbara Vanderkolk Gardner, Bonnie Lancaster, Keffie Lancaster, Jeff Hart, Joyce Hart, Andrew Guenther, Gail Forest, Tracey Rapisardi, Chuck Bolton, Mandi Rapisardi, William Tidmore, Erin Blosser, Monica Rissler, Terrance Leaser, Susanna Stock and Cameron Cox.

Down the street, Deborah and Danny Marr of Indiana own the contemporary home, which is listed at $2.8 million. The couple bought the 3,600-square-foot home in 2005 but offered it as long-term vacation rental property until 2011 when they moved in.

Deborah Marr is the owner of Deborah Marr Interiors, a business she established in Indiana in 1989. She's a veteran of a dozen showhouse projects in Indiana, but also did a room in last year's Jewels on the Bay house here in Sarasota. This year she worked with Ron Cook, owner of Cook's Custom Cabinetry, to update the kitchen of her home before it goes on the market.

"We bought this home for the location on a wonderful street and for views, deep water for boating and the big outdoor entertaining areas. The designers have maximized all of that, and this showhouse is a vacationer's dream place, especially if you want to live a vacation lifestyle all year."

Designers who have taken this house to a new level of glamour and comfort are Robert Henry, Gary Ficht, Susan Frick, Jane Faust, Christine Brown, William Dobson, Bridget Saah, Louise Stewart, Holly Dennis, Deborah Marr, Cheri Neary, Christine Brown, Elisabeth Croy, Jan Clark and Tracee Murphy.

The cabana, which overlooks the swimming pool and the bay, is the work of Tracee Murphy, whose installation is what she calls "resort chic." It's a grown-up and contemporary space done in black, white and gray with teal accents and modern furniture. Gauzy chevron-stripe drapes provide as much or as little privacy as the occupants want.

In the breakfast room, Cheri Neary has worked out an intriguing balance of industrial modern furniture and reclaimed rustic wood. It's both dramatic and innovative, but the designer predicts that her window treatment will be the hit of the showhouse.

"It's the new improvement on the classic plantation shutters," she explained. "The slats of the shutters can now be custom-cut in 10 different patterns; I've used the diamond shape on the windows here. Called Mirage Shutters, this window treatment option is making its United States debut at this showhouse. I know absolutely that homeowners are going to want them."

Neary is the distributor for the product through her firm, Embellishments. In fact, everything in these two showhouses is for sale; there is an inventory list in each room of both homes.


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 21, 2013
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