SRQ Magazine | February 2017
In House & Home
“Cozy Shade Lane” isn’t so much a home as a lifestyle, one that exudes fluency with the language of nature and a balance between neutral space and eloquent, simple furnishings. Piggybacking on the emerging “tiny house” movement—homes under 500 square feet, often on wheels—art director and set designer Casey Stephenson transformed her 800-square-foot cottage into a playground of textures and plants, with an eye toward uncluttered elegance. Stephenson takes cues from classic mid-century design along with her natural surroundings to create a home that represents modern living on a smaller, more manageable scale, with clues and quirks throughout that act as a manifestation of her own personality.
Stephenson’s sensibilities take shape in her choice of neutral, clean, minimal furniture—nothing outside the white/grey/beige spectrum—the walls crisp and white aside from one dotted with black leopard spots she hand-stenciled. “The house is a place for me to be creative,” says Stephenson. “It’s always changing—it’s a place for me to be whimsical and fun.” The breaths of color come in the form of an abundance of plant life, from paper-thin hot pink bougainvillea flowers to spindly eucalyptus branches, prickly fan palms to full-grown fiddle leaf fig trees. Hazy photographs hang unframed and beachy along the long walls as subtle oud and tuberose candles cast a gentle glow and earthy spice to the indoor air, books on art and surfing, travel and design stack beneath tall jugs brimming with plants, some sitting open-faced to accentuate the presiding palate.
While the walls of the house only contain 800 square feet, the “Cozy” property doubles in size with an expansive backyard mimicking the Floridian vibes felt inside. With an outdoor vista brought to fruition by Bodhi Tree Landscape & Design, the yard blends growing foliage with solidly grounded concrete slabs, demarking a pathway that winds past a casual umbrella-shaded table setting (Martinique print seat pillows plumped to perfection) alongside a white and teal beach cruiser complete with a bamboo basket, neon flowers overflowing, up to Stephenson’s newly deposited “She Shed.” Surrounded by giant outstretched banana palms, potted dragon trees and twinkling string lights, the tiny white structure was designed by Stephenson and created by Sarasota company Superior Sheds, and was originally meant to serve only as a utilitarian way to hold her styling materials and extraneous props. Instead, the She Shed has become a “sweet wingman for the house,” says Stephenson, another way to play with making small both functional and beautiful. Her philosophy and the essence of Cozy Shade Lane: “You don’t have to live large to live beautifully.”