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A Whole New Country Country doesn’t have to mean rural and rustic, folksy stencils and blue geese anymore. At Ethan Allen, country today can be international, eclectic, sophisticated and hip. Check out the New Country collection there, designed with an eye for the trend toward relaxed sophistication that’s versatile, comfortable and easy to care for. […]


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A Whole New Country

Country doesn’t have to mean rural and rustic, folksy stencils and blue geese anymore. At Ethan Allen, country today can be international, eclectic, sophisticated and hip. Check out the New Country collection there, designed with an eye for the trend toward relaxed sophistication that’s versatile, comfortable and easy to care for.

The collection incorporates a blend of American, English and European country. Look for beautiful statement pieces such as a china cabinet, hall tree and comb-back armchair. Distinct finishes (some distressed or antiqued), family-friendly upholstery and versatile accents work to put a crisp and contemporary spin on the country look.

Going Native

She’s said it before and she’ll say it again: When you’re out shopping for your garden, go native. "Because it just makes sense!" says Theresa Artuso, ASLA, vice president of Hole Montes, Inc. and manager of its landscape architecture department.

Native plants and trees have adapted to Florida’s soils and weather conditions and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Even in tight spaces, a native garden can thrive in pots and containers. Plant a small tree in a pot and watch the butterflies throng to the wildflowers, Artuso says.

"The use of native plants reflects the traditional, old Florida feel and creates a sense of place, a sense of permanence and always having been there," says Artuso. "By planting native, we can maintain a real Florida look in our landscapes and put back and preserve some of what is rapidly disappearing."

New Kid on the Block

Drayton Saunders has been named president of MSC Mortgage and MSC Title, Michael Saunders & Company recently announced.

"These divisions are growing rapidly and I look forward to building upon the exceptional service model already in place at MSC Title and MSC Mortgage," says Drayton. "I feel I can add a specific focus to both mortgage and title and help facilitate communication in a way that achieves our goal of exceeding customer expectations."

Title and mortgage have become core services in a real estate transaction. Eighty-seven percent of the consumers polled in a national survey said one-stop shopping for all real estate services was paramount in their choice of a real estate firm.

Drayton joined Michael Saunders & Company after spending six years in Santiago, Chile, as owner and operator of New York Bagel Bakery. He plans to apply to his new leadership position the same customer service skills he sharpened as an entrepreneur.

"I can proudly say that Drayton shares my passion and vision for this company," MS&C President Michael Saunders says. "Now that he has a solid background and overview of the company, it is rewarding to have Drayton at my side and contributing to the growth of all aspects of Michael Saunders & Company."

Shopping Naturally

There’s a whole lot going on at the corner of First Street and Lemon Avenue, where construction is under way on One Hundred Central, an upcoming shopping, dining and residential destination.

The Casto-Zenith Venture LLC. Development is part of an 11-story, mixed-use downtown development called Whole Foods Market Center. In addition to a 36,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market store, the site includes additional retail space, nearly 300 parking spaces and 95 residences-with pre-construction prices in the $300,000s-on the site of the former Palmer Bank drive-through facility.

Whole Foods Market is going to be a social destination in itself, says Florida regional president Juan Nunez.

"We saw an opportunity that will allow residents of Sarasota to explore their passion for great food by providing an unprecedented selection of fresh ingredients and prepared foods," says Nunez. "Our team looks forward to creating this site as a gathering place, a destination for Sarasota residents and visitors to relax and enjoy the unique environment."

Whole Foods Market will feature organic produce, all-natural meat and seafood, hearth-baked breads and desserts and domestic and imported wine, beer and cheese. There also will be natural supplements, health and body care products and a juice and coffee bar. At the community and education center, gourmands will be able to attend lectures and cooking classes.

Work Out

Residents of one of Sarasota’s premier condominium addresses have no more excuses for not working out. Taylor Woodrow’s Tower Division has started work on a state-of-the-art health and fitness center at The Meridian Towers at the Oaks Preserve in Osprey.

Project manager Frank Cirillo says the 1,320-square-foot facility will be completed in the first quarter of 2004 and will boast Cybex equipment.

In other Taylor Woodrow news: The Tower Division also recently started construction of Meridian Towers IV, a 10-story luxury condominium facility that offers condominium units priced from the $400s to more than $1.6 million.

Design on the Go

Here’s a fun new spin on interior design: Robinson Spry Interiors has started an "Accessories on the Road" service.

"We come to your home for an evaluation, then make an appointment for the magic day," says Linda Spry, owner and ASID designer. "We arrive with accessories, pictures, mirrors, even a small piece of furniture and spruce up an outdated room or put the finishing touches on a room you never finished. You live with the transformation for 48 hours and keep the items that really work for you."

The firm is also planning a wholesale furniture and accessory buying trip to Tampa in late January.

"This is a rare opportunity for our customers," Spry says. "You will be able to shop wholesale prices where designers shop." Call 365-2030 for details.

Mix it Up

Rusty Colliard, of Fiori Gallery, advises clients to mix it up when considering the redesign of their homes. "Take a large, ornately framed mirror in the same room with ultra-modern sofas," she says. "Place a highly textured piece of pottery on a modern glass table. Or use a little bright color in an otherwise subdued room." Colliard calls this juxtaposition of design elements one of the more interesting decoration trends. "It generally holds true that the more formal the look, the less style juxtaposition is used," she says. "You can still achieve a very elegant effect when combining disparate elements."