Changing with the Times
Renovated residence feels brand new
Doreen Bray can’t help but smile when she walks through the front door of her home north of Tampa. “Everything used to be dark—oak-paneled walls and rich, heavy colors—all things we liked when we built this home 25 years ago,” she says.
But times and tastes have changed over the years. “Now I’m greeted with a light, airy, spacious feel to the foyer and downstairs, and I love it! It’s like getting a brand-new house,” she laughs.
One thing leads to another
Family has always been important to Doreen and her husband, Jack. When they built their home in the exclusive Avila gated community, they were raising two young children. Today their family has expanded to include five grandchildren who visit often and are now old enough to require bedrooms of their own. So converting an unfinished attic space into an additional bedroom prompted the Brays to initiate a renovation—one that grew into a re-designed kitchen, larger sunroom, walk-in closets, bigger baths, all new exterior windows and doors, a re-screened and resurfaced pool and outdoor grill area and a completely rebuilt entry foyer and curved staircase. The AC/heating system was upgraded into five zones and the home’s sound system is now hidden inside the walls.
As anyone who has attempted it knows, a renovation can often be more complicated, difficult and time-consuming than building from scratch. Just ask Jerry Glaser, owner of Tampa-based Glaser Homes, who took on the renovation for the Brays. “The first thing Doreen asked me was, ‘Can you lower the foyer floor?’” Glaser recalls, “And the second was, ‘Can you get it all done by Thanksgiving?’ I said yes and we did it, but it took a lot of coordination and good communication to meet that nine-month deadline.”
Redefining the entry
When the Brays built their home in the 1980s, they chose a raised foyer floor, which required step-downs into the living room, dining room and library, as was the style at the time. Now Doreen’s number one request was to get rid of the raised flooring, no small task since the upstairs walkway spilled into a curved staircase which would have to be totally reconstructed to accommodate the new lowered foyer floor. The newly designed staircase was widened and each riser increased by ½-inch in height.
Several elements had to be replaced or re-designed to achieve the lighter, open feel that Doreen wanted. After removing the foyer floor and its cement subfloor, new hand-hewn distressed hardwood flooring with a pegged herringbone pattern was installed throughout the public rooms. Coffered ceilings were removed and all doorways heightened for a more spacious feel. Panels were sprayed light beige with an amber glaze to resemble a furniture finish. Two new gorgeous back-to-back hand-carved custom marble fireplace mantels made in Italy and installed by Barbara Tattersfield add elegance and sophistication. “Doreen’s passion is antiques,” says interior designer and long-time friend Francine Newton of Newton Interiors, “but she wants them comfortable and inviting. Function comes first.”
Finally, the entry door and the overhead balustrade and stairway handrails, which were formerly wooden dowels, were replaced with wrought iron in a graceful spiral pattern that repeats the curve of the staircase. “We had just finished building a second home in California, and I really liked the wrought iron look,” says Jack, “but I wanted something out of the ordinary, something subtle that would endure the test of time and was not too trendy.”
The kitchen is the epitome of spaciousness and efficiency. Two islands—one topped with gray and gold-veined white honed statuary and the other with light oak—allow for workspace and a separate conversation area. The light walls and cream-colored cabinetry, high ceilings with wrought iron light pendants and expanded eating nook and sunroom create an atmosphere of openness. Bringing the outside inside, a view of the pool area, newly resurfaced with Travertine marble tiles, and the Avila golf course beyond gives a relaxing feel to the area. The butler’s pantry, taken from garage space, features lighted displays for china and crystal stemware and has drawers lined with pacific cloth to keep silver from tarnishing. The laundry room nearby features a deep porcelain farm sink and an efficient moveable work island on rollers.
Sanctuary for guests
With the family growing, another bedroom became a necessity. Fortunately, an unfinished attic space was available to create a unique guest suite with a fun ambiance. Glaser fashioned an attic feel with slanted walls, dormer windows and window seats but kept the ceiling high enough that there is no closed-in feeling. Introducing lots of light into the sleeping area, an entire wall was replaced with French doors that open onto a deck overlooking the pool and backyard area. At the opposite end of the room, a stylized bath features a porcelain tub and a floor-to-ceiling shower stall.
“It was really a pleasure to work with Jack and Doreen,” states Glaser, “because they knew what they wanted going in. And they were very prompt in making decisions as things moved along which really helped me stay on that tight schedule.”
Adds Jack, “Jerry did what he said he would do and he did it on time. And now we are really enjoying the result.”
Contractor: Jerry Glaser, Glaser Homes; Residential designer: Jeff Smith, J.W. Smith Design Group; Interior design: Francine Newton Interiors LLC; Faux artist: Jeff Walling; Trim carpentry: Louwaert and Son; Windows and doors: Pella; Hardwood flooring: Oakleaf Hardwood Flooring; Granite countertops and stone flooring: Custom Marble Works; Upholsterer: Peter Gaponiak; Decorative furniture design: Sharon Cano; Cabinetry: Bright Wood Works; Ornamental stair railings and front entrance: Klahm and Sons; Millwork: Triple H Architectural Products; Appliances: Sub-Zero and Wolf, Florida Builder Appliances; Pool renovation: Landmark Pools; Wood shutters: International Wood Shutters; Carpeting: Addison Dicus Carpet and Rugs; Wallcovering installation: David Varney; Antiques: Brenner-Valdez Antiques & Interiors; Decorative hardware: Cobblestone Court, Inc.; Northwest Door and Hardware; Furniture restoration: Brian Choate; Fireplaces: Barbara Tattersfield Design; Audio/Video: Randy Hansen, Pyramid Sound and Light, Inc.