Lois Ross, ASID
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In the News  July 29, 2007

 

 


Modern at heart

 

 

 

 

Linda and Richard Diamond with Lois Ross, right

By Marsha Fottler 2007 Herald Tribune July 29. 2007

The exterior of Dr. Richard and Linda Diamond's new home at the Venetian Golf & River Club is much the same as the others in the neighborhood, expressing Italianate design motifs in the gothic pointed windows, tile roofs, Moorish arches and house colors evocative of Mediterranean countries.

But the inside of the Diamond home reflects what's going on in the diverse and innovative showrooms of Milan.  It's modern in a scheme that is both sophisticated and playful, colorful and refined, with whimsical accents that tell you this couple loves to play golf.

 The guest bathroom that leads to the pool pavilion, for example, has golf symbols painted in trompe l'oeil "tiles" on the walls.  There's a golf-themed mural painted on one of the game-room walls, called "Walking the Greens. " The backs of the metal bar stools on the lanai are pierced with golf symbolism.

 The one-story house has 3,200 square feet in an open floor plan.  There's an additional 2,400 square feet of screened lanai that the Diamonds use as much as their indoor space for entertaining and as a second family room.  It has an outdoor kitchen (with a natural-gas grill), eating area, and a wall-mounted TV over the bar.  There's a separate raised stone deck for sunning, and even an old-fashioned hammock that the Diamonds have had for more than 20 years.  

"It's a sure way of getting a nap," said Richard Diamond.  "You climb in there with a book, saying you're going to read for an hour, and the next thing you know, someone is waking you up for dinner. "

 But the centerpiece of the lanai is a disappearing-edge swimming pool with a rocky waterfall, designed by Richard, at one end.  The pool appears to empty directly into a lake, the far shores of which are fringed with mangroves on the Carlton Preserve.

 "The serene natural view is why we chose this lot," said Linda.  "From our pool deck and from the great room, we can see wild boar, alligators, all kinds of birds, and we have a eagle whose nest we watch. "

 Inside, the Diamond home is clearly contemporary, a style they've enjoyed throughout the 28 years they've been married.  They've incorporated a few things they brought from their previous homes with custom-made furniture and carpets designed by Lois Ross, owner of her own design business and A Step Above Gallery showroom and retail gallery in downtown Sarasota.  The Diamonds heard about Ms. Ross (A.S.I.D.) through friends and commissioned her to help them select standard equipment for the home at the WCI gallery (cabinets, hardware, flooring), and to design several signature pieces that the Diamonds needed for storage and display.

 The hallmark of the interior design scheme is a lighted, custom-made, cherry-and-glass wall unit that stretches across one wall of the family room and soars from floor to ceiling.  It holds all the couple's electronic entertainment equipment, including surround-sound speakers, plus it has ample closed storage for linens or collectibles.  It also includes a full wet bar with a deep divided drawer to hold wine and liquor bottles upright.  Designed by Ms. Ross, it was fabricated by Noel Matta.

 "When the installers brought it to the house, it was in 200 or more pieces," remembered Richard.  "It was spread on the floor like an enormous jigsaw puzzle, and I thought the men would never be able to put it together.  They didn't even bring a diagram.  But, in no time, up it went, each piece fitting into the next to perfection.  Linda and I think this piece of furniture is just plain magnificent, beautiful and functional. "

In the master bedroom, the owners incorporated their existing bed and chest with new custom mahogany side tables and lamps found by their designer.  Ross had Linda's cherry oval desk, with its leather inset, custom-made for the spot.

 "If I turn my laptop and face the gorgeous view, I get nothing done," said the homeowner.  "I have to train myself to work with my back to the Preserve. "

 On a trip to Alberta, Canada, the couple found two large paintings that match the color scheme of their bedroom, and had them sent to Venice.  Their designer quite approved.  Black-out Roman shades control morning light without compromising the Preserve view during the rest of the day.

 The color palette throughout the home mirrors the palate of the nature colors found outside.  "We used browns, greens, cream, copper, russet and golden tones," said Ms. Ross.  "Nothing too bold, except for some stronger accent colors in the custom-designed wool area rugs, the color pendant lights over the breakfast bar, and in some art glass pieces.  The Diamonds' home in Baltimore had a pastel color scheme, and they wanted a different direction for this house.  For fabrics, we choose ultra suede, chenille, leather — really comfortable textiles that are durable and low maintenance. "

 The dining-room table came with the Diamonds from their previous home, and designer Ross added the leather chairs and a modern wire chandelier.

 But not everything is modern and new.  In a hallway is a wood, glass-front cabinet filled in collectibles personal to Richard Diamond.  On top sits a stuffed sock monkey, which he won at age 8 at a county fair.  "The cabinet is part of a whole suite of office furniture my father, a physician, had made in Chester, Pa. , in 1940 for his treatment room," said Diamond.  "I've inherited it.  The cabinet I keep here at home once held supplies like cotton balls and swabs and medicines.  I've got the rest of the equipment, including a solid wood-examining table, in my own office.

 "It's funny," continued the doctor, "half of my patients see the vintage furniture and some of the old physician's tools I keep on display, and are totally fascinated to hear the story behind the things.  The rest don't even notice it.  I can always tell who is interested in furniture or history. "

 The couple has been coming to the West Coast of Florida for about 28 years, mostly for long golf weekends and to visit Richard's parents in Osprey, but also to explore different areas where they thought they'd someday retire.

 "But over the past three years or so, my trips to Florida have been getting longer and longer," revealed Linda.  "I'm talking about months, not weeks.  Rick would fly down for three or four days at a time for golf holidays.  Last year I told him I wanted to be here from October through May, and at that point he said the heck with waiting for retirement, we'd move to the Venice area permanently and he'd relocate his practice.  He set up his practice here in February, and we moved into this house on March 4.  This is our first summer in Florida, but not the last. "

The Diamonds moved here from Baltimore, where Linda was born and raised.  Rick is from Swarthmore and Chester, Pa.  He is a second-generation doctor; his brother is psychiatrist.  Richard Diamond specializes in internal medicine and geriatrics, and has his office in Venice.  He's part of the Physicians Group, affiliated with Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

 The couple chose Venetian Golf & River Club because it is a new community and it is devoted to people to love the game of golf.  "We wanted to get into a development like this early to establish our golf lifestyle and to meet like-minded people who enjoy the sport," said Richard Diamond.  "That's just what has happened.  Linda plays up to four times a week, and I can manage twice right now.  We love Venice for its small-town charm and easy access to great beaches.  And we like being close to Sarasota for cultural events that we take advantage of.  And the Club here offers amenities, such as the fitness center and other activities that we appreciate.  We think we were smart to move here now and not wait for retirement. "

 
Designed by Lois Ross and fabricated by Noel Matta, the custom cherry-and-glass entertainment/bar/display unit is functional furniture art.  Staff photos/Danielle Rappaport  


 

 

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