Judi Summers agreed to stage the master bathroom of a luxurious Ritz- Carlton residence to help it look more appealing to buyers. She never dreamed that her color selections and choices in artwork and accessories would lead to an assignment redesigning the entire three-bedroom condominium for the buyers.
“I used subtle, sophisticated shades and spare décor for a very clean spa feel,” Summers says about the bath redo. “The new buyers loved it, and they asked me to transform the rest of their residence.”
The spacious apartment offered wide doorways, an elegant foyer, good-sized room and stunning panoramic views of Sarasota Bay, Marina Jack and a beautiful slice of downtown. But it did present some problems, including a dull monochromatic color palette, poor-quality lighting fixtures and ceiling fans, out-dated wood cabinetry and unfortunate placement of the powder room, offering living room views straight into the water closet.
“Guests seated on the couch could actually look right at the toilet!” Summers exclaims. “I had to get creative and devise a way to obstruct the bathroom fixtures without the mess and expense of completely tearing out the powder room.”
Since the new owners planned to divide their time between Sarasota and Europe, this was an excellent moment for them to leave the country. In a dramatic gesture of faith, they handed Summers a key and said goodbye for three months, leaving minimal instructions.
“They wanted a modern, sophisticated living room that felt light and bright,” says Summers. “Oh, and an ivory leather sofa. The rest was entirely up to me.” Throughout the job, the only contact Summers would have with her clients was via e-mail.
First, Summers ripped out the old white carpet and threw away the cheap lights and fans. She hired painters to cover the gold walls with creamy ivory and taupe. Porcelain tiles measuring 18 inches were set on the diagonal and tied to the marble foyer with a transitional border of two-inch tumbled marble squares.
The awful bleached oak cabinets in the bar were removed and the space converted to a handsome bookcase with deep shelves for objets d’art, books and collectibles. On the ceiling, Summers installed monorail accent lighting with sleek chrome tracks and amber globes to provide soft illumination throughout the living room and highlight artwork on the walls.
Next, Summers tackled the obtrusive toilet. She custom-ordered a gorgeous leather screen in buff and vanilla which divides the bathroom into two halves. She then called in a faux painter to cover the walls in various coats to look like striated wallpaper. Now, when the powder room door is open, a glimpse inside reveals gleaming porcelain sink, subtly patterned walls and the rich textures of leather and wood. The screen effectively conceals the toilet and is as aesthetically appealing as it is functional.
Since the sofa needed to act as the room’s centerpiece, Summers chose a classic modern leather sectional with chaise by award-winning furniture designer Vladimir Kagan. She added two Italian leather chairs in pumpkin and two more in espresso with metal legs and sleek contemporary lines. A Baker étagère in gold filigree balances the seating arrangement, and the sofa table from South America is crafted of inlaid bone with modernistic chrome legs.
The coffee table is an enormous square of red onyx with wenge trim, replicating the sofa’s L-shape with an ebony accent. The ebony stereo console is low in profile and works well with side tables and end tables, also in dark shades of chocolate and burnt ember.
Summers accented furniture with a variety of textures, including a pin shell box, silk throw pillows, pinch-pleat draperies in sheer wool imported from the United Kingdom, an Anichini cashmere throw found in the Ritz-Carlton’s own boutique and a papyrus floor lamp. Square patterns are replicated throughout the room, in the honey and amber twisted glass sculpture from Hodgell Gallery, stitching on the ivory couch and the square abstract area rug in pumpkin, taupe and ebony from DCOTA in Dania.
Summers also filled the room with paintings by artist David Steiner, David Wyland and Joanne Berndt Neal and metal coral sculptures by Palacek. “I went with a bold color choice in the pumpkin leather and art pieces that can hold their own,” she explains. “When you’re selecting a limited number of pieces, each one must be very strong and significant. Upon seeing the room for the very first time, I felt I could make it beautiful. And when the clients gave their approval for the orange leather chairs, I knew this would be a success.”
The owners walked into the finished interior and fell in love. They only made minor changes, including shifting some accessories around and adding one more sculpture.
“These clients are such lovely people and so easy to work with,” Summers says, “and the transformation was exactly what they envisioned. Their approval of the result is very satisfying for me.”
Design Team: All design by Judi Summers of Design Guru, accessories and accent pieces from Uptown Downtown Fine Furnishings, floors by Dave Rein, lighting by Greg Ebright, painting by Steve Cohen, faux finishes by Heather Allen