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Different by design

The penthouse condominium represents a typical showhouse, an example of sheer imagination, whereas the single-family home showcase was designed with the taste of its owners in mind.

By JUDY STARK, Times Homes Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 10, 2001

SARASOTA -- With 42 rooms and spaces in two locations -- a single-family home from the 1920s and a new penthouse condominium -- there's plenty to see at Designer Showcase 2001, the showhouse sponsored by the Florida West Coast Symphony Association that continues through March 4.

But the designers didn't settle for quantity. In creativity, detail and color, they have reached for the unexpected. Some of the rooms here are real show-stoppers. (See the box and map on Page 5D for directions and details.)

Start, if you like, at the single-family home, the Bay Shore Road residence of Bob and Diane Roskamp. They bought the house a year ago and will live there when the showhouse ends. Therefore, unlike many designer showcases where there is no real client, and the designers are free to do whatever they like, "it was important that we please them with colors and choices," said Shirley Ferraro of Price Ferraro Interiors.

She and her partner, Barbara Price, were responsible for a tiny sitting/TV room off the formal living room. They incorporated the Roskamps' antique sideboard and re-covered an existing loveseat and two new chairs in an apple-green vermicelli velvet.

Mrs. Roskamp "insisted that it be casual," and it is, with a tropical, "very coastal look," achieved through a shell chandelier, white-painted woodwork and wall coverings printed in green palm fronds. Underfoot here and elsewhere in the house is walnut flooring salvaged from old warehouses.

"This is the first year we've worked with and for clients," said Lance Licciardi, who heads his own design studio in Sarasota. "The owners love color," so for the guest house he chose a crisp vermilion, inspired by the ixora that grows in his own garden and will soon be planted outside. (He reported with pleasure that Mrs. Roskamp had peeked in on his room that morning, dressed in a turtleneck in that very color.)

In the main room the walls are painted "to look like a cabana tented in the middle of the tropics," alternating with panels of tropical flora and fauna painted by his brother, muralist Kevin Licciardi of Rochester, N.Y. The ceiling is a photo-printed wallcovering that looks like bamboo.

The owners' preference for vibrant color is clear in the main house's two-story solarium, which was recently added to the home. The walls are a vivid lime green, "a Benjamin Moore potpourri" of darker and lighter tones, said designer Susan Mignone of Panache Interiors in Sarasota. "We ragged it and sponged it and worked it over. I was ready to start toning it down, and they were saying, "More green! More green!' "

mapSaid Mignone: "It makes a statement. It photographs well. And it should be cutting-edge: It shouldn't look like everybody's living room."

In the formal living room, Classic Interiors' Robert Kevin Cassidy, a master of painstaking detail, watched nervously a few days ago as three workers on ladders lifted the Roskamps' priceless antique Venetian-glass floral chandelier to shorten the chain by a few links. He checked to make sure that the right draperies were being hung at the right window.

Where another designer might have used wallcovering, Cassidy had the walls glazed and striped by hand in shades of green. The Stark carpet was custom-colored expressly for this room, and the risers on the staircase were inset by hand with tiny mosaic tiles.

A lot of the accessories in the room belong to the Roskamps, Cassidy said: "It was fun to work with them. They love beautiful things. They have beautiful things, and they seem very excited."

A don't-miss feature of the house: the exquisite ceiling murals by Paul Montgomery of Sarasota in the entry foyer, living room, dining room and powder bath.

Move on to the second showhouse venue, the penthouse condo down the road at the new Sarasota Bay Club, a retirement residence developed by Bob Roskamp.

This unit is still for sale, so, with no client, designers were free to choose the colors and styles they liked. This venue looks more like what we've come to expect from upscale showhouses. The tone is contemporary and sometimes edgy.

The master bedroom offers mink-brown walls, a bed dressed with a fur throw and pillows with a mirrored headboard, a silver-leafed fluted cabinet and a leather rug embossed to look like python, all contrasting with splashes of lipstick pink. Designers are Tre Michel, Susan Burke and Tanya Burley of Robb & Stucky.

In a tiny retreat on the second floor, Sally Trout, who heads the design company that bears her name, disguised an acoustical-tile ceiling with woven panels of natural linen gauze. A five-step faux-finish process in white, gray, taupe and gold gives the walls the texture of Pompeiian stone, Trout said. The showpiece in this room is a mahogany cabinet with leather pulls by Wendell Castle, one of the legends of contemporary American art furniture making.

By contrast, an "Old Florida" study in burgundy and gold by Sharon Bolding and Cherri Burgess of Ethan Allen Home Interiors offers dark leather furniture and a bronze-glazed ceiling covered in Anaglypta, an embossed wall covering that looks like paneling.

The living room, by Gary Ficht ("my 26th showhouse," he said proudly) and Susan Frick of Pedlars' Village, faced a common problem: how to arrange furniture in a room that is essentially a passageway to other parts of the condo. They solved it by creating a number of small seating areas that break up the long room. All the upholstered goods and the carpet "were custom-designed for the room," Ficht said.

The Roskamps' own home may be the more endearing of the two spaces because of its architectural quirks and because the taste and possessions of the owners shaped its look. The high-rise is sleek and slick, an example of sheer imagination and fantasy. See which one you like better.

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