When a realtor showed graphic designer Andy Eggebrecht a 1,700-square-foot house on a corner lot near Gulf Gate School, Eggebrecht made an offer the same day and bought the place for $140,000. The owner of AE Design Group says he saw genuine promise in an over-renovated 1967 Sarasota School of Architecture home.
"I had been looking for a modern house project and this was definitely it, plenty of potential," recalls Andy. "And even though I suspected that I would probably spend more on refurbishing than I was paying for the house, it didn't really sink in how much money, time and work it would take. I've spent $80,000 so far and I'm not nearly finished. A bathroom and part of the kitchen had to wait for a while when the plumbing collapsed and had to be completely redone at a cost of $14,000. But in spite of the setbacks, I'm having a ball with this place. It's a gem." The cantilevered carport and the central corridor (once outdoors, now enclosed) were what made him realize what a special structure this was, he says.
A Ringling School of Art and Design graduate, 25-year-old Eggebrecht has great admiration for the Sarasota School of Architecture. He discovered his home was designed by James Padget, who had an office in Sarasota in the '60s. Initially, the three-bedroom, two-bath house was meant to be a winter vacation dwelling, so it lacked air conditioning. Made of steel, glass and Ocala block, the house came with terrazzo floors, eight-foot pine ceilings and a flat roof. The interior walls were exposed block.
When Eggebrecht found the home in the winter of 2002, brick and paneling covered the walls. The floors had been carpeted and tiled. Walls had been erected and French doors added. The home's original character was effectively buried under random alterations.
"The two worst things that happened to the house are things I can't fix," admits Eggebrecht. "At some point the exterior was given a stucco treatment. This virtually sealed the house, which is not a good thing for Ocala block because the material is meant to breathe. The other is the terrazzo floors. We were able to pull up the tiles that covered them, but the glue used to make the ceramic adhere destroyed the terrazzo."
Andy and his father Don have since installed maple flooring throughout most the home. Dad also built the maple kitchen cabinets while Andy experimented with stains to ebonize them raspberry and chartreuse. The counters are cast concrete, and the sides of the counters are backlit. Stainless steel appliances, an under-counter wine cooler and brushed chrome hardware complete the kitchen. "The backsplash was brick and when we removed it to get back to the Ocala block, I decided to leave the globs of old adhesive," explains Andy. "I painted the block a dark charcoal and the glue residue gives the surface a really cool texture."
Theatrical color is a constant with Eggebrecht. One bathroom is bright yellow. A deep purple wall highlights one bedroom; a Chinese red wall calls attention to another. The living room sofa is fire-engine red, and a wall just to the left of the front entrance combines nearly all the colors Andy used throughout the house.
Furniture is a mix of contemporary styles. Some of it is custom, such as the chest of drawers in the master bedroom by furniture designer Christine Desiree and a pair of black leather and brushed chrome recliners by Lefar. Eggebrecht found the wood and metal dining room table and chairs at Home Resource and table lamps at Home Depot. One of his prize possessions is his bed of maple, chrome and glass with attached round side tables. The headboard is underlit. Lighting is also a key feature in a shower that has dark cast concrete walls, slate floor and a ceiling of smoked glass behind which are hundreds of minuscule twinkling fiber optic lights.
With financial and aesthetic plans for the inside of the house well underway, Andy and landscape architect David Young are ready to transform the back yard with bamboo fencing, raised deck, spa and koi pond. The chaises on the deck are the work of Jan Gross, an industrial designer who's one of Eggebrecht's clients.
"When I first toured this house, the realtor brought me in through the rear entrance," remembers Andy. "A smart move, because the best view is from the back yard, across the deck and through the tall windows into the house. The first thing I saw when I walked through the door was the central corridor that used to be an exterior feature separating the bedroom wing from the rest of the house. When I saw that corridor, I was sold on the house. It's such terrific architecture."
The bachelor shares his work-in-progress with two young shelter cats, Toby and Jake. They seem to be enthusiastic devotees of the Sarasota School of Architecture, too. "They love all the glass and the ledges," Andy claims. "The whole place is just a big playroom for them." Andy also notes that Toby, the black cat, has something in common with the house. "Toby's had a lot of health problems," Andy reveals. "His vet bills are up to $2,000, making him just one more surprise rehabilitation project associated with this property."