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A Fine Romance

You wouldn’t be surprised to see gentlemen in white dinner jackets, women in satin gowns, or a young Louis Armstrong blowing his trumpet in the corner of an elegant cocktail party in this 1,770-square-foot, two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath condominium at the Vue, a high-rise in downtown Sarasota.

With all the sophistication of a Cole Porter lyric, the wit of a Noel Coward play, and the grace of a Fred and Ginger waltz, designer Kurt Lucas of JKL Design Group evoked the glamour of the 1930s in his latest project. Working with designer Liz Ditzler and his long-time partner, Ron Butine, the trio transformed the home into a shimmering, sensuous retreat.

“Ours was the first resale in the building,” says Lucas. “We began by gutting all the floors, lighting, and countertops.”

Such drastic change is not foreign to Lucas and Butine, who buy and renovate a new project every two years. From modern town homes to the creation of a castle, the pair bring a property up to their exacting “premium standards” and then sell and move on to the next project.

“It is our passion–to make a property outstanding,” explains Lucas. “We start pulling photos of things we see and like, while keeping an eye on latest trends. Tastes change–ours certainly do–and we have a great time with each new incarnation.”

The two have been together and enjoying such projects for 27 years. “I booked a flight from my native Oklahoma City (I say I was paroled early) with only $300 in my pocket. Now I have the largest design firm in Sarasota,” says Lucas.

“Though Ron isn’t a professional designer, he has an innate ability, wonderful taste, and has educated himself with exposure to great design. We lovingly guide and inspire each other.” When it is time to move on to the next project, Lucas says, “We pack up our clothes, our Persian gray cats, Kooper and Kai, and our fine art pieces (which are part of our souls) and off we go.”

When it comes to designing for others, Lucas credits their success to one principle: “We design without fear. We don’t care what your neighbors will think or what your best friend disapproves of, but rather fit your personal lifestyle,” he says. “We bring our full passion to every project.”

Overlooking Sarasota Bay, the living room features a custom entertainment center by Metal Creations Design & Fabrication of walnut and gold leafed aluminum with a leather accent wall. White velvet Weiman sofas host burgundy velvet, gold-trimmed bolster pillows made in JKL’s in-house workshop, L3Workroom. A circular chandelier by Kuzco Lighting lights a Restoration Hardware black marble coffee table. A cowhide rug delineates the space and offers a soft place for Kai the cat to nap. Lucas picked up the bust of David at a going-out-of-business sale at a Tampa statuary shop, and it has lived with him in his last three homes.

True Old Hollywood glamour is displayed in the show-stopping powder bath. A black-and-white herringbone grasscloth Arte fabric adorns the accent wall and is reflected in the tall mirror cut by Fox Mirror. The mirror is offset from the wall and LED lights are recessed behind it, cunningly giving the illusion that the mirror has a herringbone-detailed frame. A Solaris chandelier from Kuzco, which reflects off a matte black wall, further illuminates the room. The custom built charcoal gray concrete sink by Schascle Yochim includes a walnut board with white veining, as a side shelf. Brizo Litze faucets are inset into the mirror itself.

Bruce Holwerdas painting Pin Up Dreams brings a sense of exuberance and a splash of color to this inviting alcove. Bolier & Company chairs of black patent leather alligator, sport hounds-tooth Romo fabric, accented with a red velvet welt (added by Lucas) atop ebony wood legs. Between the chairs is an hourglass table in chrome and metal by John-Richard. Kährs oak flooring in a linen finish is UV-based (as opposed to the more traditional urethane) so that rubbing in more oil easily erases any scratch marks.

Lucas and Butine don’t cook so they set up this dining “lounge” to provide an intimate setting for cocktails and canapés. Set on a Fabrica Fine Carpet rug, custom Tomlinson chairs are clad in pewter pleated velvet. A Kuzco chandelier of black aluminum tubes inset with crystals was chosen as “smart, clean lighting that doesn’t visually consume the space.” The cityscape is by Lucas’ favorite local artist, Tom Stephens.

The streamlined kitchen features a bust of Bacchus, god of wine, as well as seating at a waterfall Panda marble island by Design Works. Interlude stools of chrome have gray leather seats and hair-on hide on the arms and backs. The scene is illuminated by bar lighting and the paint here, as throughout the condo, is Sherwin-Williams Snowbound.

Subtle sophistication is the hallmark of the master bedroom. Brown cork with silver backing, merges with another wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries in platinum and silver. Gold metal bands were added by Metal Creations Design & Fabrication to add definition and additional texture. This combines all the metallic tones of the home into one stunning statement wall above the slatted headboard of the white lacquer and walnut EMEDE bed. A fiberglass Zeppelin chandelier by FLOS features an opaque, iridescent wrap over a chrome base and casts soft lighting on to an original abstract by JKL’s own Liz Ditzler (“A woman of many talents,” brags Lucas.)

Solid walnut panels break up the wall of glass for an urban zen look in the master bath. The same earthy wood lines the towel storage compartment and Japanese-inspired table legs under the dual vanity. A Tom Stephens’ original, from his recent modern cycle, holds pride of place in the master bath. The walls, clad in Rodano Silver by Porcelanosa, a charcoal gray porcelain tile, create a soothing backdrop in the glass shower. The room’s main floor, set with white pebble tile by Dune, features a clever tile “rug” designed by Lucas using laser-engraved porcelain tile.

Lucas had the existing vanity painted a matte navy and Metal Creations Design & Fabrication made the brass foot support rack. LED bubbled glass and gold metal sconces are from Modern Forms and the mirror, set on gray texture wall fabric by Innovations is by Four Hands. After an extensive search, Lucas found the perfect white Cararra with brass inlay flooring (“I heard angels sing,” he says).

A trio of gold discs from the Phillips Collection adds a luster to the regal blue and gold palette in the guest bedroom. The bed, with its tufted headboard, is from Restoration Hardware and high-gloss porcelain lamps with lacquered shades softly light the CB2 brass nightstands. The cobalt coverlet was handmade by L3 Workroom as was the gold leafed pillow of waxed linen. The Nine-Pendant Cascade lamp is by Modern Forms.

Written by Kitt Walsh

Photography by Jimmy White

Interior Designer

JKL Design Group

1839 61st Street

Sarasota, FL 34243



Contemporary Closet Concepts

1312 North Lime Street

Sarasota, FL 34237


Design Works

4500 Carmichael Avenue

Sarasota, FL 34234


Metal Creations Design & Fabrication

1235 Tallevast Road

Sarasota, FL 34243



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