Neo-Modern Nest – Maison & Design :: SRQ Magazine article by Abby Weingarten
Award-winning and impressive, a recent home renovation by Echt-Architects of Sarasota embodies neo-modern magic on Bird Key
SRQ Review | February 2022
The design of the posh Sarasota residence—located on a 21,605 square foot lot on the corner of a waterfront street—began in January 2018 and construction was completed in February 2019. Solidly built in 1968, the existing 6,364 square foot home was equipped with four bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths, but the owner has set out to reinvent the interiors in a more contemporary style (to complement their very eclectic art collection). Echt-Architects worked closely with the owner to realize this vision and enlisted the expertise of interior designer Marie Bowman, ASID, NCIDQ; and general contractor Nathan Cross.
“The owners love how the house has been transformed to better suit them and reflect their tastes, passions and lifestyle,” says architect Andrew Etter of Echt-Architects. A multitude of additions and creative renovations would eventually refresh the great room, upstairs bedroom, family room, kitchen, living room, bar, studio, bathroom, stairs and balcony. The main objectives of the renovation were to modernize the entire space, harmonize the angles and heights of the house, make the oversized entrance area and living room more welcoming, add a artist and maximizing views of downtown Sarasota across the bay from Bird Key. The refreshed spaces are now open to each other and outward to the bay, with large-format concrete-look porcelain tiles blending the spaces. The large walnut stained wooden front door welcomes guests into the living room with its custom concrete fireplace surround (with tapered edges) and walnut paneled trumeau. A large threshold overlooks the dining room and the open kitchen dazzles with its rich walnut and lacquer finishes. An elegant staircase, with a central stringer and wooden block steps, brings visitors upstairs to the impressive guest suites. Next to the family room, a custom concrete bar top with waterfall and tapered details provides plenty of space for relaxation and recreation. The room, like the rest of the house, is both luxurious and livable.
“Before the renovation of the project, the living room was rarely used, and it was described as too large and difficult to furnish,” explains architect Kortnee Gonzalez, NCARB, of Echt-Architects. “Through layers of architectural elements, including a new fireplace with a floating concrete hearth, balanced by a soaring wooden ceiling element, we were able to give the space a sense of scale (as well as an inviting focal point but also allows one to still appreciate the incredible view just outside the sliding glass doors). This inviting warmth and livability extends to every facet of the home, such as the utilitarian and eye-catching kitchen. “The continuity of the materials helps tie the spaces together,” Gonzalez explains. “Glossy kitchen cabinets and a mirrored bar backsplash reflect the incredible water views and make it possible to appreciate the site even while sitting facing the outdoors.” Incorporating design elements that would expertly showcase the owner’s art collection was paramount. “We worked closely with the client, contractor and interior designer to blend the owner’s existing furniture with new elements, achieve a large-scale playful look and allow the client’s art collection to shine,” says Gonzalez.
Bowman was essential to this execution. “We kept the interior wall paint pure white to allow the client’s artwork to really pop,” says Bowman. “A museum-quality light fixture highlights the client’s statue on the stairs and creates a beautiful play on the shadows dancing on the walls.” Not only was the handling and appreciation of the owner’s artistry an essential part of the renovation (to be preserved for present and future generations), but longevity was an overall theme throughout the project. With this in mind, the design team focused on eco-responsible and sustainable materials. The flooring comes from a manufacturer with a strong commitment to sustainable practices and low emissions. The wood selection features a natural oil finish with no added chemicals to promote healthier indoor air quality. And the main tile flooring has a GreenGuard Gold certification for reduced total volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. “Caesarstone® kitchen countertops incorporate up to 42% recycled quartz which offsets waste in landfills,” says Bowman. “These countertops never need to be sealed and are non-porous, so they don’t harbor any bacteria, mold or mildew, and they stay safe and hygienic for ultimate cleanliness.”
Knowing that the house combines elements of past and present – from its exaltation of timeless artistry to its penchant for cutting-edge, planet-friendly finishes – was a particularly interesting aspect of the project for the Echt team. -Architects. “The most rewarding part [of a project] begins to explore the juxtaposition between contemporary and traditional elements, which is always exciting for us,” says Etter. This is something the team at Echt-Architects have relished over several projects. Founded in 2016, Echt-Architects is a full-service architectural firm dedicated to design “that contributes significantly to the built environment”, say the firm’s founders. Etter has led teams of architects and designers on projects in Japan, the Middle East and across the United States, and he has spent more than a decade working with world renowned architect Richard Landry. Gonzalez has dedicated his career to designing and managing high-end custom residential projects at every stage, from conceptual sketches to construction.
The company has won numerous awards and accolades for its residences along the Manatee River, Casey Key, Little Sarasota Bay, Roberts Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Whether the Echt-Architects team is designing a high-rise condominium or a coastal mansion, designers know how to maximize indoor-outdoor living spaces and sea views, while taking into account the history of the respective landscape and of the relationship of architecture with this. “We work with our customers to fully understand their lifestyle, needs and desires,” explain the company’s founders. “By honoring each client’s visions, together we can embark on a unique journey that leads to architecture that endures and inspires.” The renovated Bird Key house is just one striking example.