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Tiptoe Through the Tulips You know spring is in the air when you see tulips popping up all over. According to Gail Conquest, manager of Mr. Florist Plants N’ Things, April and May are the perfect months to brighten your home with tulips. Conquest can barely contain her enthusiasm when she talks about these enchanting […]


Tiptoe Through the Tulips

You know spring is in the air when you see tulips popping up all over. According to Gail Conquest, manager of Mr. Florist Plants N’ Things, April and May are the perfect months to brighten your home with tulips.

Conquest can barely contain her enthusiasm when she talks about these enchanting flowers. "They’re just so incredibly beautiful," she says. "They brighten up any space. I love the bright red tulips with the black centers." She also waxes poetic about purple tulips, white tulips, and the "French multicolored tulips that are ragged and lacy with red, yellow and green blushing through their petals."

Conquest suggests that you display your tulips in glass jugs, old-fashioned pitchers or tin watering buckets and cans to emphasize the just-picked country look. "The tulip arrangement should not be formal or structured," she says. "Just find a pitcher or watering can and place bunches of them in your guest rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms and entryways. They really say ‘spring is here!’"

For Wine Aficionados Only

Let’s say you just bought 1,000 bottles of a premium French Bordeaux. You have room in your personal cellar, but since you won’t be opening these puppies for another decade or two, why waste valuable space?

Where to store them?

Jeff Rubin, owner of Vin Cella, has the perfect, elegant solution. He recently opened an exclusive storage facility that combines modern security and state-of-the-art climate control technology with Old World rustic charm.

We’re not talking any old storage facility. Imagine stepping into a bucolic Tuscan villa overlooking estate vineyards-in the heart of downtown Sarasota. Vin Cella’s private walk-in cellars are housed in a simulated cave environment and feature custom-built hardwood racking and artisan wrought-iron gates so that you can savor your collection in an extraordinary ambience.

There is also an "aficionado lounge" decorated with lavish European furnishings and Persian carpeting, and featuring a wine library and wet bar where you can "relax and enjoy a fine glass of wine in crystal stemware." The separate tasting room is ideal for private wine tastings and catered affairs for you and your guests.

Vin Cella (the "vin" part is French and the "cella" part is Italian; Rubin just liked the sound of the two words together) also features weekly wine tastings and monthly grand master tastings. "Each participant brings a bottle of something phenomenal to share with the others because good wines are meant to be shared," says Rubin. If Vin Cella sounds like wine heaven to you, check out www.vincella.com for more information. But do it quickly; only 40 spaces are available.

Plush Stuff

What’s new with floors?

Patterned area rugs, says John Moakler of Manasota Flooring. Moakler says Sarasotans are looking for something soft and warm to sink their toes into, especially in the bedroom, family and living areas, which are often furnished with hardwood or tile surfaces.

And not just any carpet or area rug will do. "We’re seeing a trend away from Oriental patterns," says Moakler, whose company features an exclusive line of Ralph Lauren patterned area rugs and carpets. These broadloom creations feature a variety of designs, from geometric shapes, large floral and scroll patterns to "gorgeous paisleys and Scotch plaids."

Looking for something completely different? Moakler says his company custom designs rugs and carpets to fulfill the customer’s imagination.

"These are people who want something they won’t find in their neighbor’s house," he says. "Whatever you envision, we can replicate in a rug."

Snuggle Up Department

What could be cozier on a cool spring evening than snuggling under the soft embrace of a pure, lightweight silk blanket? Pam and Marcus Anast, owners of the Sarasota Collection on Central Avenue in downtown Sarasota, suggest that you add plush, wood-fiber sheets made in Italy to the mix. "These are top-of-the-line fabrics that feel like silk," says Pam Anast.

But don’t stop there. Choosing the right colors for your mood and décor is important when it comes to fine linens. Anast says the trend in colors leans toward such muted tones as espresso, buttery beiges, bamboo and silvery-gray. "A lot of downtown dwellers seek that urban look-clean lines, contemporary, sophisticated," says Anast. The shop also features an exclusive line of lightweight micro-fiber bath towels and his-and-her cotton robes so you can color-coordinate your bathing and sleeping experience. Sarasota Collection offers linens in 60 colors to tempt your imagination.

What color is Anast passionate about? She admits that she still gets excited by the fresh feel of pure white linens. "Maybe I’m boring, but I like the purity that white suggests."

Style and Elegance on Anna Maria Island

Two new condominium developments are in the works for Anna Maria Island. Rosa Del Mar features 14 luxury Mediterranean condominiums with brick driveways, lush tropical landscaping and a pool that views the Gulf. Each condo will have three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths in over 1,900 square feet of ample living space. Every living room and master suite faces turquoise waters and sugar-white sands.

Villa Rosa is a community of 17 custom homes on the north end of Anna Maria Island. Home sites are located next to protected, deep water canals leading straight to Tampa Bay. The Mediterranean architecture creates an elegant environment in which to live and entertain, while the attention to detail and the wide selection of amenities-including marble and hardwood floors, elevator, fireplace, custom built-ins and granite counters-make this a unique waterfront community. Interested in signing up for life in paradise? Call Dr. Nelson Neal and Diane Harrison of The Neal Team at the Coldwell Banker On-Site Sales Center at (941) 778-0278.

Record Home Sales

We’ve all heard about the lucrative Suncoast real estate business. Plop a thatched hut down anywhere in Sarasota and it will fetch a pretty penny. Speaking of pennies, Michael Saunders & Company happens to have collected more than a few in 2004. The company just announced that it closed the year with a record $2.5 billion in sales. With 13 offices and more than 400 sales associates serving Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties, MS&C closed more than 5,500 transactions last year. Residential sales accounted for almost 95 percent of the business, and the average sales price was $456,207. The $8.9 million sale of 1255 Westway Drive was the year’s top sale; Linda Dickinson was the selling agent, and Michael Yawitz was the buying agent.

Sound, well, awesome? Although Michael Saunders, president of MS&C, is "extremely pleased to report record-breaking sales," she says the company is setting an even higher bar for 2005. "We are not a company to rest on our laurels," she says.

Cottage on the tee, anyone?

Love golf? If so, you just might find yourself drooling over the 13 "golf cottages" The Founders Club is building within its exclusive 700-acre enclave east of I-75 in Sarasota County.

And just what is a golf cottage, you may ask? "The homes are called cottages in the same way mansions in Newport were," explains Tom Brown, co-partner of U.S. Assets Group, which is developing the property. The Tampa-based firm of Cooper Johnson Smith Architects is designing these detached homes in the low-country style of casual elegance. Vast verandahs, paver brick patios, and wooden shutters will echo the style of Golf Hall, the 24,000-square-foot clubhouse now under construction. "These homeowners will have a spectacular vista overlooking the 10th fairway of our newly completed Robert Trent Jones Jr. course," says Brown. Homes will range from 3,200 square feet to 5,700 square feet with detached garages and guest quarters.

The entire Founders Club development features 262 homes, all surrounding an 18-hole, par-72 golf course. Membership is open to just 275 golf equity members and select invitational members.

Bruce Williams Homes Opens New Phase at Lexington

Parrish, in Manatee County, is quickly becoming a bedroom community for Sarasotans seeking affordable housing in a country setting. A popular new community is Lexington, located just 40 minutes from downtown Sarasota. Developed by Bruce Williams Homes, this bucolic community features open walking trails, lakes, pocket parks, and wetlands. "At least 50 percent of the space is open to nature," says Peter Mason, vice president of sales and marketing for Bruce Williams Homes. When completed, Lexington will offer 351 units, including townhouses, villas and single-family homes. Currently, 35 three- and four-bedroom home sites are for sale. Prices begin in the mid-200s, another great reason to see if Parrish might not be the right place to find your dream home.

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