When Joe Lubrano decided to build his dream house on Bay Drive in south Manatee County, the bachelor-grandfather wanted clean lines, functionality and, above all, a maintenance-free kitchen.
The kitchen’s dramatic blue granite and white marble floors appear to conflict with those goals. But the founder of 35-year-old European Marble in Sarasota knows better. "Granite is impervious to stains and maintenance-free," Lobrano explains, "and travertine has been used as a flooring material by Romans since antiquity."
A native of Rome, Italy, Lubrano created the Mediterranean-style kitchen with the help of his vice president and designer, Emir Joanides, and contractor Joe Just of P&G Construction. Warm maple cabinets and richly textured faux finishing (along with generous doses of stone) are reminiscent of the Italian kitchens of his youth.
But modern American conveniences abound, making pizza and parties a snap—
except during the Super Bowl, when Lubrano hires pal Gianluca Di Costanzo (former Mediterraneo chef and now owner of La Tosca in Osprey) to take over kitchen duties.
Sarasota Bay’s azure tone is echoed in the kitchen countertops and backsplash in blue sodalite granite, so rare it is only found in the Kunene region of Namibia in South Africa.
Lubrano personally selected the Roman travertine marble for 24-inch floor tiles throughout the home at a quarry in Tivoli, where the classic material has been prized by architects for centuries.
Highly textured split-face marble tiles imported from Israel are used to dress the kitchen bar, an adjoining elevator column and the pantry walls.
Venetian-plastered vent hood and faux-finished walls by Leisa Watts create additional layers of color and texture, and enhance the kitchen’s Mediterranean ambiance.
The classic lines and warm tobacco finish of glazed maple cabinets by Artistic Cabinets subtly counterpoint the various surfaces textured stone.
Worthy of professional guest chefs, the kitchen equipment from Florida Builder Appliances includes Sub-Zero refrigerator, Viking wine cooler and a Kitchen Aid gas range.
While shopping for marble, Lubrano found his bar stools in Ascoli Piceno in the Marche region of Italy, and bronze and crystal antique vase in Pietra Santa near Carrera.