The designer showhouse on Siesta Key offers visitors plenty to look at:
• The old Summerhouse Restaurant, a beloved local icon that closed in 2005. This architectural jewel, a glass box set into a tropical jungle, is the ticket office and boutique for the Sarasota Orchestra Association's 34th annual designer showcase, "Concert by the Sea," open through March 8.
• Panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, the Intracoastal Waterway and Phillippi Creek from the eighth and ninth floors of the Summer Cove on Siesta condos that host the showhouse.
• Beautifully decorated rooms, ranging from the formal to the funky. The price tags on some of the materials and furnishings are so high, the designers gulped and just wouldn't say how much. Others? "The whole room, a grand total of $1,483.09," designer Mark Dalton says proudly of the bedroom he decorated mainly with furniture and accessories from Ikea.
"The showhouse is more contemporary than it's been in previous years, even though we're not in a contemporary home," said Lance Licciardi of Madison Park, the design coordinator. "We've got some new designers this year, and some designers are putting a different thought behind their rooms."
Each of the designers chose a song written or famously recorded by jazz pianist Erroll Garner as the theme for the room. In the ninth-floor penthouse, designers Mark Jones, Sara Chiarilli and Kim Crowell of NStyle Furniture & Design were inspired by Garner's little-known Overture to Dawn. They echoed sunrise tones in a dark-red sofa in a ribbed silk, cotton and acrylic fabric; in a pair of purple velvet wing chairs; and in the gossamer silk window panels in yellow, orange and magenta. "I wanted it to be beautiful, warm, open and inviting, like a sunrise," Chiarilli said. (Those purple chairs, by the way, had to be FedExed from New York after they missed the manufacturer's truck. Oh, well: "Less chance for freight damage," Jones said.)
The formal dining area, by a team from Ethan Allen, uses soft blues, whites and metallics for "a sophisticated seaside look," designer Cher Appleton said, down to the seashell napkin rings on the table and the stems of white coral and the gold and silver sea fans on display in a curio cabinet. The silk window panels, in a mineral blue to match the chair upholstery, are formal, with rich swags and pelmets, but they elegantly frame the views without getting in the way. The musical theme: Moonglow.
Down a short hallway, the master bedroom offers a dark red Chinese four-poster bed (dressed in $4,500 worth of cream and gold bedding from Robb & Stucky). It stands against a wall faux-finished in taupe and cocoa metallics with red touches, inspired by Red Sails in the Sunset. "Instead of doing your normal beachy coastal look that you see every day, I wanted to reach across the lines, with a little contemporary, a little classic," said designer Kristin Raybon of KR Design.
Things get funkier in the eighth-floor unit, starting with the, well, let's just say very colorful kitchen, in shades of lime, turquoise, yellow and orange by JoAnn Calleia Interiors. Check out the light fixture, a series of stainless-steel lozenges that reflect the light back up to the ceiling. She commissioned the artwork of sailboats at sunset and added a lead-crystal galleon to carry out her musical theme, also Red Sails in the Sunset.
Next door, Licciardi painted the walls of the dining room in two tones of soft blue accented with stenciled silver flowers. A spherical chandelier of glass flowers hangs above a table set with dinnerware by Michael Wainwright in porcelain with a platinum glaze. Chocolate-brown raw-silk drapery panels pick up the dark brown tones of the table and chairs. The musical theme? Garner's signature composition, Misty.
Inspired by the song Imagination, a teen lounge is decorated with a painted canvas floorcloth set into the ceiling, a shaggy rug made of leather scraps, '60s accessories and a circular mirror framed in rolled and folded recycled magazine covers. "It's not a boy's room or a girl's room. I wanted it to be very hip and cool," said Sarah Switzer of Morrison Design.
Designer Mark Dalton — Mr. Chic on the Cheap and proud of it — created a secondary bedroom on a shoestring.
He didn't change the wall colors or the carpeting. "Everything here — the bed, headboard, nightstand, lamps, chair, mirror, floor lamp, accessories, down pillows and comforter, 400-thread-count sheets — we did for less than $1,500," he said. The window treatments — hardware, rods and draperies — cost just $50.46 per window. "I'm a shopper," Dalton said. "I just embellished what was here." His theme song: I Found a Million Dollar Baby (in a Five and Ten Cent Store). That's a song we'd all like to sing these days.
Judy Stark, former Times homes and garden editor, is a freelance writer in St. Petersburg.