House Crush

Courtyard Modern | East of Trail

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If you’ve driven on Shade Avenue between Fruitville and Webber recently you’ve probably noticed all of the ‘coming soon/ new construction’ yard signs for Courtyard Modern. Or if you’ve ventured off of Shade, through Arlington Park and Alta Vista, you may have seen some of their very cool houses.

Looks to me like an East of Trail modern building boom is underway thanks in large part to Courtyard Modern. I called Joe Russo, the real estate broker for Courtyard Modern to get the scoop. He met me at the model home on Wood Street and we talked comps, pricing and neighborhoods. The following week, I met Courtyard Modern owner and designer Cheryl Blankenship at the house and we talked design. I simply love these houses! Here’s a bit of what Cheryl had to say.

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Getting Started:

I faux finished for a long time as a way to make money as an artist. I started doing murals and did a lot of work in some of the big housing developments. When the real estate market fell I was the first to go because I was a luxury expense to the builders.

Then about four  years ago, I bought a Spanish house at the corner of Bahia Vista and Shade. It was in such bad shape  everything had to be torn down except the foundation and a few cement walls. We built it back up as a little hacienda-type house in order to match the neighborhood and it sold immediately.  After that, I bought my own house on Waldemere and redid that. So those two designs pretty much started it all – I went out, got investors and started building.

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The first four houses on Floyd Street:

We didn’t originally plan to build the same houses, so close together. We built the first house on Floyd hoping to use it at as a model, but it sold before it was finished. The owner let us continue to show it as a model. We had different plans, with different looks, but everyone loved the look of the first house. It was exactly what they wanted, so I had to worked really hard to make the other three houses look different. Floyd Street is probably the only block that will have houses so similar. I’m trying to switch up the designs a bit because I don’t like cookie cutter.

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Glass countertops:

All of our houses so far have the glass countertops and they’ve been really popular. The new houses will probably have white Silestone waterfall counters with glass accents.

Concrete Floors:

I like concrete floors because they give that modern effect very quickly. This floor is sealed and has a matte finish which I prefer. Concrete is easy to maintain and doesn’t stain. Every concrete floor we’ve done is unique because it’s a natural material and you can’t predict how it’s going to look. Another benefit is that concrete can be covered up easily with other flooring if buyers don’t like it.

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Simple modern touches:

Modern is really popular now, but some people don’t like it because they think it’s too cold. We’ve done ours differently. We’ve had to because we’re a budget company and we want people to be able to work in their own style. They can go ultra-modern or they can bring it in a bit and make it look more homey. Our houses are really a blank canvas with simple modern finishes.

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Interior colors:

This is my first all-white house. I usually use two shades of grey but I changed a few things in this house and ended up making it as clean and as simple as possible. If I get the chance to do a different design it’s going to be deep and rich and wild with color.

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Inspiration:

I get most of my inspiration from Instagram. Instagram. Instagram. I’m an Instagram junkie when it comes to my design ideas. I used to be into the whole Swedish design thing, but now I study a lot of architecture and modern designers from Australia. I also have every magazine you can possibly get. I do tear sheets and have thumb drives full of ideas.

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Modern East of Trail:

I love the new look of modern and I want to offer it to people who can’t pay millions of dollars for a house. Our houses are not ultra-modern like some houses West of Trail –  they’re a simpler version which allows them to be cheaper than what you’d pay over there. I also wanted to build something different from what other builders are doing East of Trail.

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In closing:

I think we should embrace the uniqueness of Sarasota. This is a design town, an architectural town, a music town, an art town. Our differences should be embraced. When it comes to building in these neighborhoods, I don’t want to see all of my homes, or another builder’s homes everywhere. I want to see different styles. These neighborhoods are so centrally located, they’re close to everything – downtown, beaches, arts and events. East is the new West!

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Good chat. Thanks so much Cheryl!

Head over to Courtyard Modern to learn more. Cheryl and her team currently have several building projects in the works, lots for sale and are planning to host an artist showcase event at one of their houses. Check the website for more details.

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