The Sarasota house that Mark Sultana created for Tom and Caroline Richardson demonstrates a change in the way America aspires to live. Growing concern over sustainability, the economy (and shrinking retirement accounts) has fueled a trend to smaller homes, putting the kibosh on much of the conspicuous consumption of the late 20th century. But none of that quells the American passion for owning a dream home. Instead, it challenges architects like Sultana, a principal of DSDG, Inc., to artfully compress the client’s vision into a smaller footprint. And that’s just what he did, allowing the Richardsons to live large in 2,600 square feet of elegant simplicity with all the style and amenities of a contemporary McMansion.
We wanted a modern home on one level built around a great room with high ceilings. We told Mark we wanted lots of glass and privacy—knowing full well that those two things don’t usually go together,” says Tom Richardson, vice president of sales for Mag Industries, Inc.’s Maglite flashlights.
The pair yearned for a house that would reflect their interest in modern architecture as well as their love of contemporary art. “But they didn’t want a cold, sterile look; they wanted their home to be comfortable, inviting, almost Zen-like in feel,” explains Sultana, an AIA architect. Inveterate travelers (Caroline is a flight attendant with American Airlines and Tom’s international business trips are nonstop), the Richardsons also hoped to encourage visits by family and friends by incorporating many of the hospitality design features they’d experienced in favorite hotels and resorts.
The result is a home like no other in Shoreland Woods, a 1940s neighborhood off South Osprey Avenue with an eclectic mélange of styles from Med-Rev to Cracker Cottage to Sarasota School of Architecture. Though Richardson wanted to fence in the 11,200-square-foot lot, Sultana solved privacy issues (after razing the humble 700-square-foot cottage that came with the property) with a clean white wall. “It’s six-and-a-half-feet tall, the highest the city allows,” says the architect, who created the wall as a foil for tropical plantings that add even more resort-like ambiance and privacy.
The red-framed glass front doors are surrounded by narrow vertical slats of glass across the width of the entrance, allowing brilliant light to filter all the way through to the back of the home. A 16-foot floating wall directly opposite the doors blocks views from the street of activity inside the home, while creating a gallery-style foyer with three abstract paintings by Chilean artist Matias Krahn, which Richardson bought at the renowned Jorge Alcolea Gallery in Madrid while on a business trip.
Round the corner of the gallery and on the reverse side of this floating wall is the kitchen, with a dramatic expanse of yellow lacquer and glass backlit cabinets. Twelve-foot ceilings and poured concrete floors cured to look like marble (a secret process Sultana won’t reveal) create a minimalist shell that draws eyes to the owners’ art collection.
On the entertainment unit wall, created with stepped custom cabinets in a mix of white lacquer and wenge wood finishes, hangs a haunting portrait, part of the “Faces” series by Vietnamese artist Le Quy Tong, which Richardson purchased at the Apricot Gallery in Ho Chi Minh City.
Throughout the three-bedroom, three-bath home, Sultana worked magic with lighting, not just to focus attention on art but to warm the sophisticated white and browned gray palette. Ten-foot glass sliders and walls punctuated with oversized custom windows provide beach-like brilliance. And while the master suite and en-suite guest quarters wrap around the back patio and pool, Sultana set them at different angles to ensure complete privacy.
“People ask us why build with all the deals around in this economy,” Richardson says. The truth, he says, is that after months of looking at Sarasota dream homes, the pair couldn’t find one so perfectly custom-tailored to their lifestyle, artwork—and dreams.
The Home Team
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Voigt Brothers Construction
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Robb & Stucky Interiors
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