Any real estate-centric TV viewer who can’t get enough of the HGTV reality program called “Love It or List It” will immediately recognize the scenario that recently played out in the Sarasota enclave called Village Walk. Paul and Susan McIntyre moved from London to Sarasota in April after three years in England. Their life in Europe was part of Paul McIntyre’s job as an oil company executive.
They were in Houston for three years before that. The couple had vacationed in other parts of Florida, but not Sarasota. They chose this city because of the beach, the climate and the arts — their grown children in New York are artists (a pianist and a painter), and Susan loves interior design.
“Can you imagine how good that endless sunny days looked to us after London?” asked Susan McIntyre, whose parents live on the west coast of Florida, adding to the draw of Sarasota. The couple had their Realtor look for communities that offered security, recreational amenities, such as running trails, and spacious, low-maintenance homes because they were looking ahead to a retirement lifestyle.
“Our Realtor directed us to Village Walk, and we found a 2,521-square-foot-home (3,411 including outdoor entertainment spaces) with four bedrooms and four baths,” said McIntyre, “so that our children and friends could come and visit. A spacious lanai area and swimming pool made it perfect, and it was almost turn-key (furnished), as well as being low maintenance. Most of the landscaping is taken care of by the community. And the community has miles of running trails, which thrilled me.”
Village Walk, a private community that is a section of Palmer Ranch, has 1,177 maintenance-free residences on roughly 500 acres. It has miles of walking and running paths along scenic lakes and bridges. The DiVosta-built community has a town center, tennis courts, tropical pool and 30 ongoing social activities for residents. It’s a lifestyle as well as a neighborhood, and certainly appealing to active retirees.
The McIntyres bought the house and moved in. Then life changed. Paul McIntyre got transferred to India, where he will be for the next three years. He and his wife now visit back and forth. For Susan McIntyre, the thought of living alone in a big house in the suburbs suddenly became less enticing.
“I began to realize I might be happier in a downtown highrise, where I could run along the bayfront and walk to theaters and restaurants, and where I could just lock the door and take off to India when I wanted to and not worry about closing down a big house,” she said.
“I was half talking myself into a condominium of maybe 1,500 feet or so, a place with maybe two bedrooms, small enough so I would actually live in all the rooms and not feel lonely, but big enough to accommodate occasional guests.”
Before making the final decision, McIntyre went ahead with a pre-planned renovation of her Village Walk home, thinking if she infused it with her personality and her contemporary-artsy vibe, she would feel so at-home that she would want to stay.
McIntyre had contacted interior designer Jill Geisdorf, whom she found online while still in London, and set up an online meeting. She told Geisdorf that she was bringing her contemporary furniture from England (including a baby grand piano, zebra rug and modern art), and that she wanted to incorporate her existing pieces into the big home while adding new things as needed.
The design scheme is high-style, contemporary-eclectic. The color palette is black, white, gray and cream with pops of vivid yellow and various blues that are in the homeowners’ artwork. The home already had an entertainment built-in, which the designer reconfigured to hold a large, flat-screen television.
The built-ins in the family room were converted into wine racks; the space is now a stylish wine room.
What had been a small living room near the front entrance became a music room with the black baby grand in the center. The walls are gray (Plymouth Rock by Benjamin Moore) and the trim is Decorator White. The floors are wood. In the high-ceilinged powder room, the designer put a black and gray graphic wallpaper on the ceiling to bring it down a bit and to give it a unique, modern vibe.
“We really changed the look of the kitchen,” said the designer. “We didn’t replace the cabinets, but painted them a gray color called Dragon’s Breath, and we used that same color on the built-ins. The kitchen went from being rather cookie-cutter beige transitional in styling into a room that is dramatic and stunning. Also, it matches the main living room, which it flows into.
“By using the same color palette throughout the whole house, including the guest bedrooms and baths, Susan was able to use all the furniture and accessories she brought from London, as well as a cowhide rug that she had in the Houston house.”
For the Sarasota home, McIntyre bought a dining table that her designer suggested, drapes and a chest for the master bedroom.
“We didn’t change anything structural in the home, which is why this renovation only took eight weeks,” said Geisdorf. “We repurposed rooms, changed out all the colors, redid the window treatments, and replaced a lot of the surfaces, such as counters and fixtures in the bathrooms.
“In the end, we totally converted a traditional home that had been built in 2003 into one that is custom and contemporary. We didn’t leave a single room or space untouched, and I know there isn’t another home in Village Walk like this one. It’s customized to Susan’s tastes.”
When it was all finished, Susan McIntyre had to decide to love her home or list it. After thinking about how she actually wanted to live for the next three years, she listed it. The home is on the market for $575,000 through Bibi-Ann Allard and Kevin Moran of Michael Saunders & Co.
McIntyre subsequently bought a 1,500-square-foot condominium at 1350 Main in downtown Sarasota and is in the process of deciding what she will bring to the new place. As this will be the 10th home she has decorated, she’s not daunted by the project. Geisdorf will help guide the process with a renovation plan.
At the Village Walk home, Realtor Allard says she expecting a quick sale.
“Most of the people coming to view the home are people who already live in the neighborhood,” said Allard. “Four-bedroom homes are prized here, and many residents crave that one more bedroom. I expect to sell the house to someone in Village Walk who has been watching and waiting for a four-bedroom house to come on the market.
“And it doesn’t hurt that this one is so beautiful and has been updated with such a professional touch.
“No doubt about it, this home is a showpiece, with impeccable attention to detail. But in the end I think it’s the size that will be the determining factor.”NOTEStart
5608 Novara Place, Village Walk, Sarasota.
One-story, two-car garage. Four bedrooms.
2,521-square-feet (3,411 including outdoor entertainment spaces).
Bibi-Ann Allard, 941-685-0422.
Kevin Moran, 941-620-8600.