When Suzanne Sultana was invited to make over the Giuliano residence on Lido Key, she knew exactly where to begin. When the front door swung open to foyer and living room, one was immediately overpowered by orange wallpaper covered in big, busy flowers and a dropped swag valance holding sheers with pink and green rosettes. After that was white. "The ceiling was white, the floors were white, the French doors were white, the curtains were white and the spindles on the stairway were stark white," describes Sultana. "The color contrasts were so distracting that you could not see beyond to the water views. Definitely not a good first impression."
At once, Sultana stripped the walls and had them faux-painted in a warm suede-like camel color. Her painter then used a similar treatment on the stairway rails and spindles, creating the chic look of a bronze metal balustrade without the cost. Crown molding was stained and polished to a dark luster and the white French doors were replaced with ones in a rich mahogany tone. Silk drapery panels in a soothing monochromatic taupe replaced the busy window treatments. "Unusual window shapes and window placement when the house was built created separations in the crown molding," Sultana explains. "I selected a slim drapery and a rod height that minimizes this flaw and visually connects the crown molding that was pieced together."
Sultana ordered the white ceiling painted a gentle buff to soften the room and keep the eye looking across the room rather than up. Stairs were covered in a waterfall runner of luxurious scarlet wool. Surrounded by rich woods and warmer color, the original alabaster marble floor began to glow and the chandelier reflected rainbow prisms of light across the foyer. "The chandelier is one of just a handful like it in the world," says Sultana, "and one of this limited edition hangs in the White House. That makes it rather special."
Furnishing the large living room was her next challenge, and Sultana let the Giuliano family’s lifestyle drive the design. Ample seating is necessary because the extended family is large and gathers for holidays and parties. A smart Swaim ottoman cocktail table serves as overflow seating, along with plush occasional chairs covered in a yummy vanilla micro fiber ultra suede, oversized sofa and moveable ottomans by Heirloom. "Their daughter loves music," she explains, "so the black lacquered baby grand is a centerpiece. They actually hold recitals in the living room."
The sophisticated neutral color scheme of buffs, beiges, tans and camels is accentuated with art and accessories, including custom pillows in green; a massive natural arrangement of pheasant feathers, acorns, magnolia leaves and branches; silk trees; and original oil paintings. Art glass vases and an Oriental chest add interest to the room, along with a collector’s piece of Asian art, hand-painted on four panels. Two side tables offer convenient spots to rest a book or beverage and provide pleasing textural contrasts. An unusual stone-top round table by Emerson et Cie features carved bird legs and beautiful inlay and the Swaim side table is topped with smooth travertine. A trio of bronze candlesticks, metal lamp with beaded shade, and handsome sconces provide soft lighting. A custom wool rug anchors furniture and unifies the room, which can comfortably seat up to 15.
"We wanted to create a beautiful, warm space for people to gather," sums up Sultana. "The Giulianos divide their time between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, New York and Sarasota and they envisioned a Florida home designed to include friends and family. Furnishings were all chosen for comfort as well as aesthetics. Colors are neutral, creating a sense of serenity and cohesion, a lovely background for what is going on. The space feels welcoming. I feel our result is a real room for living."
Natural floral arrangement by Jenny Silks
Window treatments by Lillian Alderman
Faux painting by Jane Crick
Silk trees by Garden Creations