When Wendy and Dr. Michael Katz looked at model homes in the new DiVosta community of Sandhill Preserve at Palmer Ranch last year, they found the neighborhood that suited them. It was an easy commute to Dr. Katz’s office in Venice, and it had the amenities they wanted along with things they did not want. No-maintenance, single-family homes on small lots meant liberation from yard work for Michael.
“We didn’t want a pool to maintain either, but we did want a place to swim daily,” he said. “This brand new gated community offers swimming, tennis, a fitness center, clubhouse, hiking paths, barefoot bar, everything . We just walk out the door and it’s all here.
“It’s like being in a condominium, but we have a big house. We weren’t looking to downsize because we have four children and five grandchildren, and we love to get together with them often. But, we did intend to make our lives easier, more relaxed and just more fun.”
They wanted a new house with quality insulation and hurricane windows (their low electric bills have shown the wisdom of that decision) so they selected the Tangerly Oak model and paid extra for some upgrades, such as wood flooring and crown molding. The house has 3,400 square feet on two floors with four bedrooms. Depending upon upgrades, lot location and number of bedrooms, the Tangerly Oak model can range from $354,900 to $489,000. Upgrades increase the base price.
The house took eight months to build. What Wendy and Michael Katz didn’t appreciate was how all the houses looked similar on the outside and on the inside, too. They didn’t want a cookie-cutter interior, so, working with Trudy Clark of Solutions for Carefree Moving, they undertook a project to customize their house. It was easier than they thought, and the results have given them a home that is specific to their needs, wishes and design tastes. The process took two months after they moved in, and involved just about every space in the two-story home.
“We had worked together before and ended up becoming close friends,” said Clark, whose company often helps people relocate, downsize, or, in some cases, to “de-acquire” and repurpose their spaces. In this instance, she was asked to collaborate on built-ins, fabric and furniture selections and to find sources for carpentry and paint work, upholstery and window treatments and lighting systems.
Customizing all the closets in the house and customizing the garage for additional storage were also on the list. When a health issue intervened and Wendy Katz needed surgery and a month of recuperation, Clark became the project manager of the customization project and ended up turning over a “turn-key” home to its owners.
“The three of us shopped at Copenhagen Imports for the majority of the furniture because Wendy and Mike like contemporary furniture with clean lines and nice wood,” said Clark.
“And, we relied on interior designer Jonathan Slentz, who owns the Wallpaper Store, for appropriate wall coverings for the laundry room, bathrooms and Mike’s office, which is done in grasscloth. Customizing with wallpaper is a quick and easy way to enliven a dull room and to infuse it with color and personality. Jonathan also helped with window treatments throughout the home.”
A big, fully customized kitchen was important to Wendy Katz, who loves to entertain and to cook big family dinners on Sunday. “Now I have all the work space and storage I need,” she said, “which includes a custom pantry, a big island, plenty of counter space, a huge refrigerator and gas cooktop. And the extra lighting we added is wonderful. This is the first time I’ve had a white kitchen, and I wasn’t sure about it because I love a lot of color. But I worked with Tile & Stone Collection to design a custom tile backsplash wall with handmade tiles that incorporate the colors that are in the rest of the house. It turned out to be all the kitchen needed to personalize it.”
The color palette throughout the home includes teal, yellow, red, white, black and wood tones, both light and dark. The floors are engineered hardwood in an oak finish. Wendy indulged her color passion in her tree-top office, which has a vivid coral accent wall and custom fabrics in shades of orange and yellow. After 38 years with the Sarasota County school system that included posts as vice principal and principal, Wendy Katz retired in 2012 and now works as a consultant to the school board in the Leadership Development program, which includes principal certification, and she works for the Patterson Foundation. Her home office was entirely customized with white built-ins to meet her needs because it is where she works every day. Her desk faces the window, and she has a nice view.
Built-ins in the living room, sunroom and in both home offices took up a lot of the customization budget, but make a huge difference in the look and function of the home.
And they are original features. No other home in the community has anything just like the Katz built-ins. Adding a custom headboard in the master bedroom and coordinating the headboard fabric with the window treatments and bedskirt were other ways the couple customized the house. And the choice of paint colors for the walls, along with their art, collections and a few pieces of family heirloom furniture, guaranteed a home like no other in Sandhill Preserve.
“Buying a new home from a model that lots of other people select doesn’t mean you have an impersonal space,” said Michael Katz. “One of the best things we did was to steal part of the lanai to make an enclosed sunroom. We furnished it with contemporary yellow leather furniture, and Trudy designed a gorgeous built-in to go around the piano, making that wall a custom feature.
“It has become our favorite room in the whole house. The natural light is great, it’s cozy. Wendy and I sit in there together to relax, watch TV or to talk. It’s exactly what we wanted, customized to us.”