Visual Delight : Stunning Design and One-of-a-Kind Details

What’s so special about this home? Ask president Derek Nelson and interior designer Julia Hill, both of Nelson Homes in Sarasota, and you hear a similar answer.

“I feel like every room, around every corner in this home, there’s a surprise — some special element,” says Hill. Nelson agrees, “Every room is memorable, full of creative spaces.”

Nelson and Hill, along with architect Mario Vitorino of Arthur Rutenberg Homes, pulled out all the stops for this thoughtfully designed custom one-story home in The Concession, a prestigious gated golf community boasting an acclaimed course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. The 5,207-square-foot, four-bedroom, five-bath residence plus casita sits on 1.2 acres with a creek, and views of a nature preserve.

“The owners wanted their home to be open and inviting,” explains Hill. “They are very social and entertain several different groups. Their previous home was much more formal. They wanted this home to be relaxed and contemporary.”

Nelson describes this well-appointed home as an unforgettable backdrop for entertaining. The home enjoys the space for a fête of grand proportions while maintaining the easy, intimate design which makes for a quiet evening with close friends. Memorable details mark the home’s signature, soft contemporary style. Everyone’s favorite detail is the kitchen’s countertop bar from Epoch Solutions topped with an underlit color-changing glass surface by Think Glass, creating a sophisticated approach by day, yet a festive mood when the sun goes down.

It was this color-changing bar which served as a muse in creating the design palette and textures. The home maintains an uplifting, open tone with clean, yet warm geometric-patterned accents, providing a flexibility of use for both formal and a hint of the whimsical. Each detail in the home hints at a modern, linear design. “It’s definitely more transitional to modern,” says Hill. “We tried to keep it warm and inviting with contemporary flair.”

She credits the successful outcome to a trusting relationship with the owners, giving them the confidence to explore options. “This house started with a completely different vision; it was more transitional,” she explains. “Then, as we found different products the owners wanted to incorporate into the house, it snowballed into a more contemporary feel. Once we formed a relationship and bond, they placed a lot of trust in me. I was able to push them out of their comfort zone.”


Palm varieties accentuate the curved brick drive and landscaping at the grand entrance, with a four-car attached garage at the front of the home. Landscape designer Joe Mantkowski of ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design says it was imperative that the landscape not only stood out from street view, but that it was also conducive to the owner’s lifestyle. The irrigation system supports a pleasant tropical greenscape on the property and surrounds the screened-in lanai in the lot’s anterior. Subtle grays of the Echo Ridge dry-stacked Boral Country Ledgestone on the home’s front exterior by Old Castle Coastal set off the red tile roof.


The living room maintains a comfortable yet sophisticated air with the use of textures. The square Ambella Home Limestone Bowtie Table creates a center focal point. The Vanguard Wellington chairs in Fabricut Mendel Leaf add textured motifs and a sheen to contrast with the flat finish and casual comfort of the Hancock and Moore leather sofas. “With these super high ceilings, adding texture like a wall covering and draperies from ceiling to ground really warmed up the space,” says designer Julia Hill. The exposed trusses in the great room and dining area provide visual anchoring within the open floor plan.


The bar countertop from Epoch Solutions is quite the conversation starter. Guests congregate at the elegant Think Glass kitchen bar where they are treated to a color lightshow as the everyday clear light morphs into a series of colors. The poured concrete counter on the kitchen’s middle island by Jake Brady Concrete by Design, plus an embedded heart and initials designed by the owners, is just another way this home offers surprises at every turn. Extensive cabinetry by Kitchen Center Plus makes the kitchen as functional as it is beautiful, and ties together the kitchen and dining spaces.


Guests are invited to linger on the Vanguard seating at the mixed-medium Century woodtopped dining table. A buffet by Kitchen Center Plus with recessed lighting, flanked with dual wine refrigerators, complements the dining area. Pendant lights by Kichler in old bronze finish create a vertical visual delineation between the kitchen and dining area. “It’s a dream for entertaining,” Hill explains. “With the open floor plan, it enables you to flow from one room to the next.”


A touch of gray shimmer in the upholstered Vanguard ottomans, and throw pillows pick up the gray tones in flooring and embolden the sky-blue accents in the bedding. Vahallan hand-painted wall coverings, and floor-to-ceiling draperies frame large windows in the master bedroom and bath – as in the main living area, blurring lines between the interior and exterior spaces. Grays in the Mannington Stonehenge walnut 5-inch plank wood flooring throughout the home lend a modern, seamless composition. The whitewash finish on the gray planks provides a more timeless, traditional feel.


“The windows make it feel like the inside and outside are one,” says Hill of the large master bathroom. “There’s really no separation. It gives a warm tone of natural light.” Large windows in the bathroom look out into a private garden from the freestanding Kohler tub and glass shower enclosure. Creamy oversized 18-by-18-inch Daltile marble flooring, installed by Illusions Tile & Marble and stunning 24- by-24-inch shellstone travertine in the lanai give an even larger feel to these spaces. The custom vanity is by Kitchen Center Plus.


Set off from the rest of the room with a rich, dark finish on the built-in shelves and flooring, the raised platform delineates the connected business center from the main living area. “It makes for a nice setting in the den, creating a distinction between the business and lounge areas,” explains Hill of the space’s layout.


A detached casita accents the outdoor living space. It functions as a perfect in-law apartment or guest cottage, complete with a wine cellar and boutique-style living area. Connected to the home through the screened-in lanai, the casita provides a guest bedroom, kitchenette, and an open floor plan complete with a billiards table. The view from the large windows looks out onto the nature preserve. “The casita is a special place,” adds Derek Nelson. “Just a really enjoyable space. It’s another area for relaxing by the fireplace.”


Set to impress, the poolscape includes a waterfall, fountain, illuminated glass pedestals, and multiple fire bowls set on travertine. Continued here is the same Echo Ridge dry-stacked Boral Country Ledgestone by Oldcastle Coastal Landscape used on the home’s front exterior. Accessible through the master suite, great room, kitchen, dining area, and the casita, the lanai with a resort-style in-ground heated pool and spa enjoys a shallow sun shelf with Ledge Lounger chaises, an outdoor kitchen, a fireplace, and ample Napoli seating for entertaining guests. Landscape Designer Joe Mantkowski of ArtisTree says privacy was important, so he designed with trees, boulders, and plant material to help blend with the natural setting as though the plantings had always been there.

Written by Susannah Herrada and Claire Vath

Photography by Mark Borosch

ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design
160 Pond Cypress Road, Suite B
Venice, FL 34292

Epoch Solutions, Inc.
7040 Riverview Blvd.
Bradenton, FL 34209

Illusions Tile & Marble

Jake Brady Concrete by Design
1314 10th Street
Sarasota, FL 34236

Kitchen Center Plus
2210 Fourth Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33704

Old Castle Coastal
2200 12th Street
Sarasota, FL 34237

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