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With a covered entry porch and deep roof overhangs, the street facade pays homage to Arts & Crafts antecedents.

All photos by Gridley + Graves

Our dog hated being downtown,“ says Arlene Steinberg, who with her partner, Gilbert Weiner, had bought a condominium in downtown Sarasota. They were Florida snowbirds from Long Island. “Every time loud trucks went by, it was a trauma. And the windows were covered with hurricane slats that blocked the view. We started looking for a house.“

A deep, painted frieze offsets the dining room’s 10-foot ceilings. The homeowner designed the 80-inch sideboard.

A self-professed old-house lover, Steinberg says they never considered buying a new house. “I grew up in a 1927 bungalow, and that’s what I love,“ she says. “I absolutely wanted an Arts & Crafts house. Sadly, we found that the period houses we looked at had been bastardized. We finally bought a lot and a half in a new subdivision, with the intention of creating a reproduction in the style we love.“

A Craftsman kitchen celebrates 10-foot ceilings with triple-tier cabinets. Space at the top is illuminated to show off a ceramics collection. Perimeter cabinets are white; the island is oak.

Steinberg, who is an artist and author of the book Masterful Color, found inspiration in the haciendas she saw while traveling in Mexico. “I love the way they’re built around a courtyard in the middle, and thought that we should build a U-shaped house. That also gets lots of light into the rooms.“

Counters of green natural quartzite go well with wall tile in a soft moss color.

She and Weiner, a retired lawyer, built a 2,870-square-foot house oriented around a central lanai with a swimming pool and garden. The center block of the house rises two stories, with a guest suite, an exercise room, and Arlene Steinberg’s studio on the upper level. The first floor holds a great room and dining room in the center section; wings accommodate the kitchen and Weiner’s study, along with access to the garage toward the east, and a master suite and elevator in the west wing.

The U-shaped house surrounds the lanai adjacent to a swimming pool and garden planters. Open from all of the main rooms, the lanai is sunny in winter, shaded in summer.

“We wanted a house that would work for people who are getting up in years,“ says Steinberg. “So we designed it without too many changes in level, and, even though we don’t use it yet, with an elevator, just in case.“

Tiles in the surround celebrate the homeowner’s favorite design motif, roses. The line of the mantel shelf continues to the flanking built-ins.

An elevator is just one of the conveniences easily built into a new house. The new structure could be oriented so light enters the rooms in winter but keeps them shaded in summer. Starting from scratch allowed Steinberg to incorporate her favorite design elements-especially the rose motif she worked into tiles, fabrics, lighting fixtures, and stained glass. She is fond of Arts & Crafts-era stained glass; the custom work here was designed and executed by Sarasota’s Glass Crafters.

The staircase is an informal rendition of Arts & Crafts design; the little door leads to Cocoa’s doggy home.

“Because this is Florida, we didn’t want the colors to be too dark. Rooms are painted in Arts & Crafts hues-we used hundred-year-old examples-but tinted lighter.“ Furnishings combine high-quality reproductions, flea-market finds, heirlooms, and a few custom pieces designed by Steinberg. Needlepoint throughout the house was done by Steinberg over the years.

A glass triptych designed by Arlene Steinberg admits light into Gil Weiner’s office.

Inspiration came from “all the bungalow books, the earlier houses of Frank Lloyd Wright. And, more recently, from Sarah Susanka’s bestselling book The Not So Big House. And from the Gamble House, which finally I was able to go visit. Greene and Greene are my favorite architects.“

A rose-motif window lights the stair landing.

Artist Steinberg takes credit for the design of the house; but Weiner managed the business end. “The reason we were able to work so well together is because I did the designing and the initial sourcing of materials, while Gil was involved in the mechanicals-HVAC, plumbing-and also the financials,“ Steinberg says. “Gil is fabulous at research, so he’d do the researching and then we’d discuss it. Together we shopped for appliances. We’d never make a final decision without first running it by the other.“

This cozy window seat was built into the guest bedroom.

Arlene Steinberg and Gil Weiner are happily settled into their new house. No more traffic noise or hurricane slats, and “it’s only a half-mile walk into town,“ Arlene says. “This is the life we were hoping for, when we moved to Florida.“

A narrow strip between the house and the street is landscaped with a variety of textures, colors, and stones. With time, it will shield the house. Landscape designer Lauren Carroll of Lue’s Garden created the front garden and pool oasis.

What is a Lanai?

Lanai is the Hawaiian word for balcony or patio. It has come to mean a roofed verandah, patio, or porch in which more than one “wall“ is open to the elements.

Like the dining room and master suite, the great room can be opened to the lanai in good weather. A pair of reproduction, American Arts & Crafts settles furnish the living space.

The lanai first appeared in the Hawaiian Islands in the mid-19th century as a way to bring the outside in. Lanais were founds in grand palaces, hospitals, hotels, and private homes. The concept and the word have been embraced by homeowners in warm-climate states including Florida, where a lanai is often screened and includes a pool. Lanais are different from sunrooms because most often they have concrete or stone floors and are situated at ground level, adjacent to the home. The lanai usually has enough space for furniture, greenery, and ceiling fans, so it functions as an almost-outdoor living room.

When lanai is lower-case, it refers to the patio-like space. Spelled with an uppercase L, it refers to the smallest Hawaiian island, Lana’i.

The creative lady of the house designed the headboard, the stained glass, and the needlepoint rose pillow. The Chinese export chair belonged to her mother.


White marble tiles and a deep soaking tub make the master bathroom a comfortable spa.
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