SRQ Magazine | April 2017
Swing open the lime green door of Stephanie Shopa’s abode on Venice Island—inhale sharply at the expanse in front of you, pitched ceilings abounding, surging heavenward into a corridor through the home’s equator. A delirious and giddy intuition guides you forward into the house’s midsection, taking only brief notice of the lowered Florida room and bright kitchen island to the left, living room accented with carrot oranges on the right, and on into the soaring space—volcanic ash-like polished concrete undulates underfoot, while multi-layered, multi-sized pendulous birdcage orb lights suspend and lightly sway overhead. Each slender metal fiber connecting them to the slanted ceiling draws the eye up to narrow windows, through which shafts of sunlight bounce in waves over the tree-limb lamps, their shadows painting a long-fingered constellation onto the walls. Nothing short of a cathedral-inspired reverie, the experience hinges on the awesome power of light and air and breath and shadow, inciting a kind of open-eyed trance.
Shopa and her artist husband bought the house in 2003 when they were still knee-deep into fast-paced careers. When they retired in 2012, the home proved too cramped—thus, a full-scale remodel ensued, expanding into the open-air masterpiece that now exists. Thinking back on her process, Shopa remembers, “The first day the architect showed up, he brought a book about Atomic Ranch houses. And I thought, ‘He gets it!’ He’s not going to try and make this into an Italianate-style home, which is what everyone in Venice has.” A distinct departure from the surrounding Mediterranean homes, the balanced redesign (added by Sarasota builder Dynan Construction) reflects an attention to a seamless interplay between outdoor and indoor.
Regain your bearings by looking forward into the caged outdoor living area beyond through slate-grey angled walls, the landscape changing with the subtle transition of polished concrete to raw, the cypress wood-paneled roof still finding the infinite pitch as the rest of the home—in fact, there isn’t a single flat piece of ceiling throughout. “I love that 50’s house feel where the ceilings are pitched,” says Shopa. “Nothing was flat when we bought the house. Even though we went up higher in several places, we kept that angled roofline.”
Cracked-pepper concrete blocks make up the patio walls, offset by deep wood, teal Acapulco chairs, the glow of a George Nelson cigar lamp and cool air. Turn left to find the outdoor extension of the master bed, whose sliding glass doors exist to remain open, the airflow awash with natural grassiness mixed with cedar- and vanilla-tinged incense, not to mention the soothing tunes pouring out of the integrated speakers tucked throughout the entirety of the house.
Cross the threshold back “inside” to the master bedroom, where a sage-green freestanding wall pops out from the load-bearing ones, not connecting with its left, right or above neighbors, serving as a grand headboard for the low-lying bed. Two mini George Nelson bubble lamps sit neatly on the ground in one corner, allowing for an eggshell glow to wash over Shopa’s collection of ethnic woven blankets layered over a wooden ladder to a credenza topped with figurines from her travels and finally to a recessed nook in the wall, lighted specifically for a narrow sculpture. Pass through the bathroom to find moss-green tiles leading to a luxurious outdoor shower lined with foliage. Working your way back to where you started, come upon the lowered Florida room, the walls lined in an ash-grey pickled wood, an authentic Knoll Womb chair peeking from one corner, beckoning readers and nappers alike. Art books with names such as Palm Springs Modern and Living Zen flank the lime-green couch, the shades on the windows above lowered just enough to reveal three flawless Florida oranges dangling outside.