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*Michael Saunders: Impressive Sales and Awards Michael Saunders has been busy lately, and it’s not just with selling real estate-she’s been hard at work receiving awards. Over the past few months, Saunders was inducted into the Community Video Archives Hall of Fame, and a 30-minute video of her life and achievements is now available through […]


*Michael Saunders: Impressive Sales and Awards

Michael Saunders has been busy lately, and it’s not just with selling real estate-she’s been hard at work receiving awards.

Over the past few months, Saunders was inducted into the Community Video Archives Hall of Fame, and a 30-minute video of her life and achievements is now available through local libraries. She also received the Florida Enterprise Medal of the Merchants Association of Florida, which puts her alongside business luminaries such as Jack Eckerd and Ben Hill Griffin. She’s the first woman recipient who is not part of a husband-wife team. The Sarasota Kiwanis Foundation also presented Saunders with its "Outstanding Citizen Award," which goes each year to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership through personal involvement.

Saunders also has sales records to boast-a year that kicked off with a spring selling season of more than $1 million in bookings per day. In fact, during the first four months of the year, the Longboat Key office alone booked $123 million in sales.

Floridians Love Color

Don’t look for any sober, taupe-covered walls any time soon. According to Kris Wasilewski of Classic Paint and Wallpaper, Floridians are still having fun with bright colors and all sorts of textures.

Few people stick with one color throughout their entire house any more, Wasilewski says. Homeowners are opting to give each room its own tone and personality, with oranges, greens and yellows being among the most popular hues.

Also increasing in popularity are color washing on the outside of houses to get that two-tone effect and Venetian plaster for walls. Wallpaper is on a downswing, but metallics-water-based paints that shimmer with hues of copper, silver, pearl and gold-are wildly popular, Wasilewski says. People are using metallics for accents, furniture and doors, and one painter bought gallons for a ceiling.

*New Neighbors

[james: can we use the ballerina print in the job jacket]

The new owners of the Tower Residences at the Ritz-Carlton were feted in style in their building’s dramatic entry foyer and social rooms. Festivities were accompanied by the strains of a New York City Opera baritone singing arias, ballerinas from Sarasota Ballet, a string quartet, harp music and a band of bagpipers. The 42 new owners and invited guests received deeds to their properties while sipping champagne, cocktails and gourmet Ritz-Carlton chef’s delights.

Most of the tower residences have been sold, but a few remain at prices starting at $1.7 million.

Silken Somethings

Decorators in the know have long been familiar with Reggina Zhidow’s store, Gunnysack and Silk Design, as the place to go for beautiful custom-made pillows. Now, they can get much more than that, as Zhidow has moved to newer and more spacious digs in Palmetto from her old Village of the Arts location in Bradenton.

The new shop, says Zhidow, will be a design center that specializes in old world furniture and accessories. In addition to the linens and silks that she imports from France and Italy, Zhidow will offer Persian rugs, Russian bone china and chunky wooden Mexican furniture. In October, she will also showcase the work of Bradenton native and National Watercolor Society member Will Turner.

"My goal is to make people feel very very comfortable with design," says Zhidow.

The new Gunnysack and Silk Design is located at 419 10th Ave. W. in Palmetto.

Barefoot Beach Luxury On Manasota Key

If you’re waiting for a home on one of the best shelling beaches in the country, you can almost exhale-construction is under way on Page Development’s Barefoot Beach luxury condominium on Manasota Key.

Groundbreaking took place in July for the building, which will have 14 units featuring Gulf views, custom appliances and fixtures, heated pools and full elevator service to each floor. The beach is at your footsteps, a wildlife refuge is nearby, and porpoises, pelicans, manatees and herons will be your neighbors. For adrenaline junkies, there’s nearby Ski Alley, a smooth and narrow slip of water between two keys that water skiers love.

Coming Soon: Grande Riviera

Charming Golden Gate Point has been a popular choice for many seeking downtown with a difference, and now, work has begun on the latest offering: Grande Riviera, developed by Angus Rogers, Phil Kaltenbacher and Bob Roskamp.

The 13 residences will be decked out in Mediterranean and Baroque style, with a canopied entry and a two-story lobby, private elevators for each house and wraparound balconies from which residents can see Island Park, Siesta Key and Lido Key. There are also eight private boat slips, a covered outdoor living room and a trellised terrace leading into the resort pool and spa.

Lighting For The Ages

Gather around for a lighting tip from interior designer Micheline Laberge. "When it comes to lighting, the key is balance," says Laberge.

The balance is achieved through proper amounts of the three different types of lighting: ambient, task and accent. Ambient lighting is the lighting throughout the general area that produces general illumination, Laberge explains. Task lighting is directed to a particular surface, and accent lighting emphasizes a particular object.

"The balance of these different types of lighting will also change on the age of the eye over time," she says. "So what may work today may need to be reevaluated from time to time to compensate for the aging process."

*Prudential Palms Opens Another Office

[james; can we use jpeg of scott & helen on either side of the door, & crop out the photog's elbow?]

Growth is the byword at Prudential Palms Realty, which recently opened another office at 2863 University Parkway next to the new Publix Shopping Center. Since its August 2002 opening with six locations and 75 sales associates, Prudential Palms has now grown under the leadership of broker/owner Scott Sosso into eight locations and more than 110 sales associates.

Another high-flying Prudential Palms member made her mark this summer: Cheryl Loeffler was chosen to be one of the speakers at Prudential University on Tour in New York City, which more than 1,400 real estate professionals attended. Loeffler works at the Prudential Palms Realty’s Fine Homes International office.

Baker’s Treat

If you love to bake, Viking’s got a little something for you.

Well, not very little-Viking Range Corporation has announced its latest addition to the Professional Series line of built-in cooking products: the electric 36-inch wide oven, both single and double.

The ovens are so big that you can cook several things in there at once, and they fit commercial sheet pans. They’re fully self-cleaning, and feature several convection settings-bake, broil, dehydrate, defrost and cook. There’s a special feature in the convection cook mode called TruConvec, which uses a third heating element around the convection fan to help those delicate soufflés or pastries. There’s even a built-in meat probe that automatically shuts off when the desired meat temperature has been reached.

And don’t worry about the ovens fitting in with your kitchen décor: They’re available in 14 different colors, including eggplant, burgundy, mint julep and Viking blue. Brass trim is also available.

Living Green In Venice

Residents at Venetian Golf & River Club have more to be proud of than having a pretty home. Their community is earning accolades as one of the area’s greenest developments.

Steve Walker, project manager for the WCI community, has worked diligently to be green, according to Eric Martin of the Florida Green Building Coalition, an organization that certifies homes based on achievement of standard criteria.

"WCI has the most green models certified in one community at this time," says Martin. "WCI is also the largest builder to have implemented FGBC green building standards in Florida."

Four Venetian models received green certification, with points awarded in the areas of design, energy, water, site, health, materials, disaster mitigation and general. Certified model features include tinted windows, sealed air-conditioning ducts, Energy Star appliances, certified yards, tile roofs, steel wall studs and concrete block walls, permeable paver driveways, carbon monoxide detectors and recycled water irrigation.

This summer, Venetian worked on an "ultra-green" demonstration model that includes humidity control, electrostatic air filtering, ultraviolet light treatment of air to kill mold and mildew, 100 percent wool carpets and bamboo or cork flooring.

"It’s what our customers are looking for," says Walker. "The challenge is that homes are in such demand that we are building them faster than the certification process can keep up with."

John Cannon Posts Record Sales

Things are looking very good indeed for John Cannon Homes, which recorded its highest single-quarter sales ever this year. In fact, year-to-date sales as of August already totaled $31 million.

Why the great sales? President John Cannon speculates that it is partly because of the low interest rates that are enticing more people to invest in real estate, and also because of Sarasota’s increasing popularity that has more people looking to grab land here while they can.

And it also might be because of the personable builder himself. Despite his sales volume, Cannon actually makes it a point to sit with clients and discuss their homes with them. In fact, working with people to customize a house to their unique needs is his favorite part of the job.

"I’m not a ‘floor plan A, B, C’ builder," Cannon says. "We have models, but I ask people, ‘What would you change about them?’ I think there is no perfect house, or we’d be building the same house over and over again. Everyone’s kitchen needs are different-exercise needs, lighting, architecture-it’s how we combine all those things to put their ideas on paper."

Having done this for so many years, Cannon is a natural at the task, which he proudly admits is due to the efficient team around him that frees him up to interact with clients. He describes his clientele as those seeking the niche between stock subdivision houses and the multi-million-dollar architect-driven houses (although one of his houses is $5 million).

"I’ve got everything under one roof," says Cannon. "I want to be responsible for the whole project."

Think Asian

The tropical look may be a perennial favorite around here (and increasingly, up North), and traditional is always a safe bet, but JoAnne Coplan, who co-owns Home Accents Gallery with her sister, Jan Marsteller, has noticed a new trend: a resurgence of Asian-inspired looks.

"It’s a global economy," Coplan says. "In home furnishings, we’re seeing that very strongly."

While the old lacquer look that many associate with Asian furniture is not so hot anymore, Coplan says that accessories-accent chests, vases, ceramics and lamps-are slowly attracting interest again. Some of the pieces feature the straight lines and smooth minimalism that appeals to the contemporary decorator. Others feature whimsical handpainting on furniture and more traditional Asian looks.

Fire Up The Grill

High-end gets higher each year, says Bill Mullet Jr., president of Mullet’s Appliances, Inc. Not that he’s complaining, of course; Mullet is happy that more and more clients come in looking for the tools they need to keep up to date with two of the biggest kitchen trends that have grabbed the upscale kitchen market in recent years: outdoor kitchens and industrial kitchen appliances.

Despite the long hot summer, Mullet says Floridians still love to cook outdoors. They’re putting in large, expensive grills and refrigerators, and often adding a full wet bar, complete with counter and sink. As for those industrial kitchen appliances-stainless steel is the favored look for the home chefs.

* Historical Connections

The Maddox Group will get its hands on a piece of history this year. The company was selected by The Field Club to expand and remodel a portion of the historic Field family estate, located on Roberts Bay in Sarasota. Wendy Richmond, development coordinator for the company, says the Maddox Group is involved in the design and construction of amenities for the club that occupies the original structure, built in 1927.

Color Tips from the Pros

This season is a happy balance of the old and new and a fun mixture of colors and styles, reports Keffie Lancaster of Lancaster Humma White.

Says Lancaster: "Color is an essential in any aspect of design. Attempting to find a way to juxtapose design trends from various influences is something a good design must tackle. Be brave-use color, lots of it, and do not be shy about incorporating lots of styles and ideas from different cultures and time periods. Just know when to say when!"

Kitchen Trends

Planning a kitchen remodeling? Might want to think about the following two trends that Tony Zanoni, president of Kitchens Direct, has noted lately.

One is that a lot of people are going to staggered heights with their cabinetry. It’s something that’s started to crop up in model homes, and Zanoni says that the varying heights give a kitchen a little more depth.

Another huge trend is the increasing popularity of cabinets that have wood finishes with glazes. All kinds of woods benefit from the glaze treatment, Zanoni says, and the result is a more sophisticated, antique look.

*Grown-Up Fun

Active adults have a new place to call home: Sales are under way for Levitt and Sons’ Cascades, the company’s newest resort-style community for active adults and Levitt’s first community in this area.

The 249-acre gated community, on the west side of Lockwood Ridge Road in south Manatee County, will consist of 460 single-family homes.

Cascades offers 12 floor plans in three series of homes that range from 1,525 to 2,489 square feet of living area, and are priced from the high $100,000s. Amenities include the 25,000-square-foot Grand Clubhouse with a full-time activities director, an unusual indoor/outdoor swimming pool and spacious sundeck. Just outside will be a fitness center, six Har-Tru tennis courts, a tennis pro shop, three bocce courts, and men’s and women’s spas with saunas and showers.

The Boca Raton-based Levitt and Sons has built more than 200,000 homes around the world since its inception in 1929. William Levitt, a pioneer of the home building industry, founded the company that is most famous for building Levittown, N.Y., Levittown, Pa., and Willingboro, N.J.