Serenity in Sarasota

An open floor plan is completely customized with reimagined spaces and aesthetic accents that speak to a love of lakefront living

Written by Kristen Hampshire | Photography by Nicholas Ferris Photography

After the design and decor selections — after the installation, accessorizing and tweaking just so — the McCormacks entered their Florida southern, in Lakewood Ranch. The curtains opened on a carefully orchestrated customization process.

“Walking into a home that was pretty much completely finished, you see all of the decisions you made come together,” said Jill McCormack, relating that she and husband David had gotten to know the Sarasota area well over the years. It was a natural progression from their home base in Philadelphia, though an across-the-pond commute from their roots in England and Ireland.

The couple decided to build a home with Homes by Towne in the Lake House Cove development, where a prime waterfront lot spoke to them. Having previously sailed while living in the Bahamas and coveting their time on the waves and beachfront, this up-and-coming community offered an opportunity to get the floor plan they desired, the views they appreciate and a next-level renovation to tailor the model home to their specifications.

The McCormacks enlisted in Kristin Tolbert and team at Trade Mark Interiors in Sarasota to appoint the home with Florida-inspired finishes and aesthetic upgrades, from wallcoverings and paint to draperies, furnishings and artwork.

“We knew the footprint we wanted, but we didn’t want the cookie-cutter,” McCormack said. “And any [furniture] we had up north would not have fit down here; the style is just very different. It’s heavier, darker. So we wanted to be open, realizing that coming from a different part of the country, what would be the fit down here?”

Smooth Sailing. Because the home is an open floor plan, a cohesive mindset was a must. Flooring throughout is a wood-like tile in a charcoal blend that allows the white grout to pop. On the Rocks paint color is used throughout the main living spaces, and a recurring theme of one- by-one wall treatments mirroring shiplap brings texture and depth to the walls, ceilings and build-ins, like bookcases.

Playing with Pattern. The guest room includes patterns in various scales that complement each other, Tolbert explains. The finely pinstriped, upholstered bed base and headboard works with the drapery’s muted, freeform stripes in blues. Pillows introduce a larger geometrical variation on the theme. A trio of circular art prints changes up the pattern yet again, bringing in deeper blues against a wall finished in one-by-one. “You get texture from the rug with crochet endings and bouclé — and there is even texture on the lamps and nail-head detail on the headboard,” Tolbert said

Tolbert, Trade Mark Interiors’ design director, said, “We wanted to deliver that true Florida feel, and because their house is on the water, we brought that to life by incorporating blues and a coastal vibe.” Lakewood Ranch is on a desirable man-made lake and located between Bradenton and Sarasota. With land available, it’s gaining attention as a place to build. The McCormacks’ priorities were to capitalize on the indoor/outdoor living possibilities, repurpose some spaces to suit their lifestyle and add custom touches to elevate the look and feel.

And another important ask of the design team: “Leave us some projects,” McCormack said. “My husband is very good on the do-it-yourself front, so there were projects built into the design that were going to be on us to complete, such as the custom window seat, soffits and the built-in bookcase in the den, among others.” 

Hall Marks. Opening up a long hallway that leads from the front entry to the main living area is possible with a full-wall mirror treatment that is 12 feet tall. “The plated mirror allows you to see the reflection of the wall art across from the kitchen opening,” Tolbert explained, pointing to nautical stylings throughout. A passthrough to the kitchen is a “stop-and-drop area” — a functional bump- out. Again, the same Sherwin-Williams gray paint on walls carries through these spaces to avoid choppiness.

Main Event. A vaulted ceiling in the main living space creates a room “with a lot of volume,” Tolbert shared. “We wanted to make it a more intimate space.” To invite more character, the team added a grid trim pattern painted white against a Sherwin-Williams gray called On the Rocks. This plays off of the one-by-one wall trim treatments throughout the home and wood detailing on shelves flanking the fireplace.

“With the high ceiling, we wanted the space to feel grounded with the navy rug,” Tolbert added. “And to allow for ample seating, there are two sofas along with chairs with textural, rope- like sides and backs. They tie into the coastal feel and the basket-weave seating in the den and dining room.”

Awash in Texture. A third bedroom for the McCormacks’ daughter is a calming retreat, with wallcovering by Schumacher Queen of Spain in Sky that looks like a painterly brick wash. Rather than a dresser, Tolbert brought in an oversized basketweave chest for storage. Creamy drapery carries on the softness and a textured rug in a neutral oyster, with touches of ocean blue, is understated yet rich with detail.

Lakefront Lanai. The lanai is a go-to space in the home with unobstructed water views, thanks to a ClearView screen that looks like door molding and is completely retractable, so it is hidden from view when not in use. Lake breezes flow through the home. Flooring, in Florida-esque travertine, is weather-ready and softened with an indoor-outdoor rub adding pops of blue. “The outdoor lanai is spacious, and we played off of the blues in the kitchen with outdoor furnishings,” Tolbert said.

Reimagining Spaces. The den was designed as a fourth bedroom, but the couple aimed to reinvent the space. “Moving to Florida, we lost a basement, so the den is like our basement equivalent,” McCormack said. Glass barn doors maintain an open environment, while walls coated in deep Charcoal Blue by Sherwin-Williams provide a cozy feel you might get from a room Down Under. The wall built-ins were designed by Trade Mark Interiors and built by David McCormack. An adjacent pool bath and access to the outdoor space make this a true work/play retreat.

And for her, a home-office area at the end of the entrance hall and adjacent to the kitchen provides convenient, productive space. Shelves are curated, with Tolbert pointing out the importance of selecting accessories as a video call backdrop. Philip Jeffries wallcovering in soft blue is decorative and functional for acoustic purposes.

Away in the Primary. “A serene retreat was the goal — somewhere quiet, where you can shut the door and be in your own area,” Tolbert described. Layered drapery treatments include functional panels partnered with sheets and shutters on the back window for total privacy. A cream, high-backed bed with crisp, clean bedding juxtaposes a bold, navy rug. “It’s a mix of an Ikat geometric with a Moroccan flair.”

Upon completion, Tolbert shared, “It was so exciting to see the impact of a furnished house — the big reveal. Walking through the completely furnished home was so special.” CS

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