This article BY SHANE DONGLASAN first appeared in SRQ Magazine
A Sarasota couple transforms a spec home into a customized modern gem.
Your two most crucial allies when building a new home—other than your contractor and designer—are patience and flexibility. Confronting an unexpected number of decisions that need to be thought out carefully or made in a hurry can take a toll, especially when customizing a home. But with the right team, personal chemistry and trust, the results can be victorious. An accidental encounter between Stephen Ellis of MGB Homes and a Sarasota couple began the process of customizing what was initially a spec home with a fixed sales price in the West of Trail neighborhood.
The couple first saw the home when it was nothing more than a concrete shell, but they were drawn to its floor plan and location. The 2,600-square-foot space was designed to maximize a narrow lot, featuring master suites on the first and second floors, an upstairs gallery space to display the couple’s West African artwork and an outdoor area oriented to accommodate the homeowners’ orchid garden. Before even walking through the front door, the home’s inviting nature is immediate. Cypress wood lines the front-facing garage and a stone veneer from Triarch Finishes allows light to dance off the reflective exterior walls, creating unexpected touches of warmth. Lofty and luminous without feeling cavernous, the inside of the home showcases a rich palette of interior materials. Stone, metal, wood and stucco blend harmoniously throughout the home. The couple’s previous abode—where they raised four children—was eclectic, busy and covered an acre of land. “We were ready to have a simpler, more minimalist home,” says one of the homeowners. We rarely create wholly new spaces for ourselves, but instead carry on, taking what we like, dropping what we don’t and opening ourselves to new ideas.
“You can’t create a space like this with any spec home,” the homeowner adds. “You have to work with a designer.” Designer Kurt Lucas of JKL Designs says when it comes to customizing a home, good design is the difference between common and incredible. The designer and builder’s interaction is critical, considering often times they may not work well together. “It’s always wonderful to work with a creative designer that is plugged in to the client and their goals, as well as the sources for interesting, high quality finishes,” says Ellis, whose favorite room of the house is the tiny powder room designed by Lucas, featuring a dynamic design palette that transcends beyond its limited parameters using different mediums, textures and sheens. Lucas’s restrained and thoughtful approach created a space that presents itself as simple, comprehensible and ultimately soothing. “I didn’t want something that expressed ‘I was built in 2014,’ Lucas says. “[It had to be] timelessly comfortable.”