Mary Pierce and her fiancé Roberto Alomar recently bought a beautiful bayfront home with vast views of the Sarasota skyline and John Ringling Causeway but just couldn't find the time to decorate.
The couple often talked about how to furnish their new place. They envisioned a clean, open feel with a sophisticated monochromatic color scheme. Trouble is, tennis player Pierce (winner of the 2000 French Open) has a hectic schedule competing in tournaments around the world. And Alomar, the Cleveland Indians' second baseman (considered by many the best second baseman in the world) is a little busy as well. They needed a game plan and someone to execute the strategy.
Pierce headed to Robb & Stucky and somehow managed to glide past the front desk, undetected and unassigned. She studied the designer call board, selected a young face and had Nikki Mohr paged. "I came up front, we introduced ourselves and she asked if I could help her," says Mohr, a design consultant and graduate of Ringling School of Art and Design. "She was friendly and fun, and I said sure. After she left the store, people were laughing because I had no idea who she was."
Mohr began by walking around the showroom with Pierce and encouraging her to point out specific pieces of furniture she liked. Pierce is very good, says Mohr, with visual proportions, figuring out where things should go and pinpointing what's missing in a room. A week after the initial introduction, Mohr presented the couple with fabric choices, color swatches, furniture styles and window treatments. They gave her a thumbs up, handed her a house key and left town.
First Mohr had the stark white walls in the foyer, dining and living rooms painted and faux-finished in multi-hued beige tones. She had the columns painted and marbleized in shades of beige and taupe and the entry dome above the chandelier copperized and layered with gold leaf and black paint. Worn gray carpet in the living room gave way to plush Karastan carpet in ivory, which contrasted perfectly with the cool beige marble floors. Glass doors leading to the terrace were treated with a handsome cornice in printed silk and draped with a soft ivory swag in crinkled cotton.
Pierce had fallen in love with a carved oak bookcase and a neo-classical buffet of white ash burls, genuine silver leaf and roma travertine stone by Drexel Heritage. Mohr used both as centerpieces, building the living room and foyer around them. An oversized Ferguson Copeland sofa with a dramatic crescent shape and textured chenille-like covering anchors the space. A massive Swaim coffee table in crackle finish and stone contrasts beautifully with twin Marge Carson ottomans and throw pillows in rich brown silk. Turkish and Indian hand-knotted rugs in diamond and floral patterns provide stunning accents. The subdued tones of taupe, beige and ivory extend outdoors for an undisturbed visual flow. There, the couple can take in the sea breeze and sweeping views in a double chaise lounge, surrounded by assorted chairs with animal-print upholstery and tables in woven wicker from the Eddie Bauer Collection.
Mohr couldn't wait for the couple to see the final result. "Roberto came home first and was absolutely thrilled," says Mohr. "He called Mary on his cell phone while I was standing there and told her the house looked totally awesome. Then when Mary came home a few days later, she telephoned to tell me that she loved everything."
Mohr was given carte blanche, she adds, with no limits or restrictions. "There was no budget," she explains. "Mary and Roberto just gave me a credit card and encouraged me to be creative. I was careful, though, and watched prices. I worked to select quality pieces at reasonable prices rather than choosing items that were showy and expensive."
Mohr even searched the Goodwill Book Shop for attractive volumes for the new bookcase. She purchased leather-bound law books at 50 cents apiece at an estate sale and cleaned the covers herself. Interesting accessories presented a challenge, as the couple did not own a collection of objets d'art from their travels-or even knick-knacks for the coffee table. Mohr incorporated gorgeous silk florals with carved wooden pieces, metal art and a bronze sculpture on a wooden pedestal. Digging through boxes in the couple's garage, Mohr retrieved some of Pierce's tennis trophies and scattered a few here and there, just for fun.
The game plan proved a winner. Mohr's hard work resulted in a classic traditional interior with contemporary overtones-a home that combines elegance with comfort and warmth. Contrasting textures of smooth silk, rough stone, carved woods and lush upholstery provide visual interest. Strong accents complement the subtle colors. Remarkably, in 6,000 square feet of furniture and accessories, Pierce and Alomar did not return a single item. "They are easygoing, friendly and I loved working with them," says Mohr. And for the five months or so they spend in Sarasota, the couple has a beautiful place to call home.
Interior design by Nikki Mohr
Painting by Bob Schmiehausen of Bob's Color Coatings
Faux Finish by Michelle Held of Unfauxgettable
Furnishings, rugs, window treatments and accessories by Robb & Stucky