A Timeless Villa On Sarasota Bay

When Designer Robert Kevin Cassidy Heard His Client Speak The Words, "At Last I Have A Home…," He Knew That Their Two-Year Creative Journey Had Indeed Accomplished Its Goal
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Turning this 8,000-square-foot italianate villa, its cerulean pool and two-story pool/guest house into a home that was at once livable and dramatically timeless began long before designer Robert Kevin Cassidy's interior insights were envisioned. But, builder Michael Walker was there at the beginning. With a superbly positioned site on Sarasota Bay, Walker knew that, together with architect Rafael Portuondo and the homeowner, they were after something unique: "museum-quality construction" and an "eternal look." It took five years to achieve, incorporating the likes of lime-based, European exterior finishes from Emilio Cianfoni; the last vein of stunning Coralina stone imported from the Dominican Republic; and pillar capitals handcrafed by an artisan in Louisiana — but the owner's desire for a home that looked as if it had happily dwelt on Siesta Key's shores for a hundred years was fulfilled.

"I'm known for pairing a variety of fabrics," designer Robert Kevin Cassidy says. Reds and golds, florals and buttery textured surfaces combine to create the allure of a century past.

And after a 2004 mini-renovation, the aesthetic of several other designers, and one major life change, the owner turned to Cassidy for what he hoped would be the defining interior statement. "My client is a very visual person that aims for perfection, and he has wonderful taste as well," the designer says. "I simply steered him toward pieces that he found truly beautiful."

First impressions are of epic import on this estate that spans more than two-acres. Just inside, a great room opens to a view that reaches beyond the rear loggia to the bay. Keeping the spacious gathering room bright against afternoon shade, Cassidy mixed three hues of yellow for the hand-plastered walls. Groin vaults appear at each door opening, while a limestone fireplace imported from England anchors the space. As if peonies and dahlias were scattered about, fabrics in carnelian and red awaken every corner.

Nearby, an elegant barrel-vaulted gallery is dotted with extravagant Venetian-style chairs and divans. But nowhere is the regal elegance the owner relishes more apparent than in the formal dining room. In a glazed and lacquered Chinese red, the walls provide the perfect backdrop for an 1870s gilded mirror and the stately English sideboard in refined burled-elm. Auffray chairs upholstered in patterned silk surround the owner's antique table as the palette of reds, shrimp and indigo resonates in the area rug below.

Striking a complementary balance between masculine and sumptuous, Cassidy kept the master bedroom's furnishings simple but luxurious. The black finish of the canopied Michael Taylor bed is accompanied by rich brandy-taupe bed-hangings embroidered in a Chinese tree of life motif from the Florio Collection. Drapery panels by Nancy Corzine are tied high with tassels for optimal light to bounce off taupe-washed walls and the bold vermillion of the antique area rug.

Just as Cassidy played with a panoply of vibrant interior colors, the soft hand-applied textures of a Mediterranean Renaissance are awash outside. The loggia's ceiling soars in a robin's egg blue, walls shimmer in a faded gouache of shrimp and orange, and the lush green lawn and sparkling blue bay play their part. But it is the the loggia's massive pillars that turns heads from the waterway. Thrusting over 20 feet skyward, each pillar was turned, rather than cast, and displays intricate sculptured forms of Florida birdlife at its capital.

With the final harmonies of aged exterior and warmly elegant interiors at last in play, Cassidy muses: "My favorite thing after such a long process … my client's desires were well served," he says. "Knowing that, together, we've created a home.

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Interior Design
Robert Kevin Cassidy, Sarasota, FL

Kim Sargent, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Rafael Portuondo, Portuondo Perotti Architects, Inc., Miami, FL

Landscape Design
Robert Kevin Cassidy, Sarasota, FL

Michael K. Walker, Michael K. Walker and Associates, Sarasota, FL

Text by
Marina Brown