Peaceful Fluidity Breeds Serenity on Longboat Key

On Longboat Key, a serene design aesthetic grants a northern family a forever-summer retreat on the water

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The serene drive into Longboat Key sets the tone for the tropical splendor that unfolds on this pristine offshore barrier island enclosing the western boundary of Sarasota Bay. Slow traffic, lined palm trees, waterfront golf courses, white-sand beaches, and euphoric glimpses of the Gulf of Mexico have shaped this slice of Florida into a world-renowned resort community that offers an elite and elegant lifestyle. The scenery is a living painting of one of the most idyllic places on Earth for many vacationers who flock here seasonally. And for the island’s privileged residents, Longboat Key is a paradise they call home.  

Such was the sentiment for a couple who chose to make this destination their escape to a never-ending summer. “For these clients, whose main residence is up north, the scenery of their new vacation home could not have been painted any better,” says Chloe Harlan of Emcy Interior Design in Sarasota, who spearheaded the project with fellow designer Meg Carson. “The already-built home came to us in its bare bones with builder-grade finishes begging for a sense of curation. We brought it to life using layers of neutral textures, dramatic decorative lighting, and custom built-ins.” 

Cleverly named Channelside for its private waterfront location, the property’s coastal environment drove the inspiration for the interior décor. With a generous flow of natural light, the home focuses on complementing the exterior elements of the Florida landscape through sea-inspired materials and furnishings. “Organic, soft, and elevated, this home will remain timeless for its many years of family vacationing,” adds Harlan. 

Built as a spec house by Perrone Construction, the property was purchased by the owners upon completion. Harlan specified finishes in addition to builder-provided materials and managed a team of tradespeople to implement custom built-ins in the stairwell, great room, and study. Bespoke ceiling embellishments and signature wallpaper treatments create visual interest throughout, and special lighting features lend warmth and texture to every room. A high-contrast neutral color palette with tone-on-tone accents ensures a soft and cozy aesthetic.

“Although the home has a very open floor plan, it was important to make each landing spot have its own special moment,” notes Harlan. “Upon entry, guests are greeted by a second-story foyer and stairwell outfitted with a pair of stunning beaded chandeliers. The space guides you into the great room, which we completely transformed with a custom built-in feature wall and LED-lit display nooks.” 

Harlan achieved a casually livable yet elegant feel with performance fabrics from Perennials applied to upholstered seating pieces from RH. Two oversized coffee tables ground the great room and allow various seating options for entertaining. “This style of ‘livable beauty’ became a theme as we jumped from room to room,” says Harlan. “Performance fabrics also appear on the kitchen counter stools and dining room chairs to create a cohesive flow.”

An all-white palette in the kitchen and dining area generates a clean, minimalist aesthetic that also provides a high-impact contrast to the gray porcelain tile floors. Sculptural statement lighting creates bold accents proportionate to the grand scale of the spaces and their soaring ceiling heights. Wide-plank wood floors give the family room a rustic yet refined feel, along with generous seating, a plush area rug, and three-dimensional wall art. 

The primary suite offers a serene escape all its own—a space Harlan admits she could move right into and never leave. Wrapped in pin-striped wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries, the bedroom is dressed from the floor up to a dramatic vaulted ceiling that highlights an eye-catching Palecek chandelier sporting a textured scale-like skin. “A sitting nook engulfed in ethereal white sheers whisks you away from reality, inviting dream-like relaxation, and that’s the precise feeling we wanted to project in this room,” says Harlan. “As the sun sets, the sheers can easily pull to the side for a peek at the boats on the water channel and the soothing poolscape surrounded by elegant lounge furniture.”

The owners love fleeing to their new forever-summer home multiple times throughout the year, hosting special family gatherings and an endless parade of friends who gladly come to experience everything Longboat Key has to offer.  

“The home gets rave reviews every time someone new visits,” says Harlan. “As one of the designers, that’s the best endorsement you can get.”

Story Credits:

Interior Design by Meg Carson & Chloe Harlan, Emcy Interior Design, Sarasota, FL

Builder Perrone construction, Sarasota, FL

Text by Jeanne de Lathouder

Photography by Laura Henry, Sarasota, FL

Open to see Interior Design Sources:

Sources

Entry

Console – Palecek, High Point, NC

Lamp – Blu Home, Sarasota, FL

Mirrors – Palecek, High Point, NC 

Dining Area

Round table and chairs – RH, rh.com

Buffet and mirror– RH, rh.com

Chandelier – CB2, cb2.com

Living Room

Sofa – RH, rh.com

Cocktail table – Four Hands, High Point, NC

Sofa back table – Four Hands, High Point, NC

Side table – Blu Home, Sarasota, FL

Powder Room

Sink – Voigt Brothers Construction, Sarasota, FL

Sconce – Arteriors, High Point, NC

Wallcovering – Kelly Wearstler, kellywearstler.com

Kitchen

Stools – RH, rh.com

Lighting – Palecek, High Point, NC

Family Room

Sofa – West Elm, westelm.com

Cocktail table – Four Hands, High Point, NC

Ottomans – Four Hands, High Point, NC 

Wall art – Palecek, High Point, NC

Chandelier – Arteriors, High Point, NC

Area rug – Loloi, High Point, NC

Primary Bedroom

Bed and headboard – RH, rh.com

Pillows – Ryan Studio, ryanstudio.com

Night tables – Made Goods, High Point, NC

Lamps – Regina Andrew, High Point, NC

Bench – Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, mgbwhome.com

Swivel chairs and table – Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, mgbwhome.com 

Chandelier – Palecek, High Point, NC

Drapery fabric – Emcy Interior Design, Sarasota, FL

Area rug – Loloi, High Point, NC

Primary Bathroom

Tub and shower – Perrone Construction, Sarasota, FL

Wall and flooring – Perrone Construction, Sarasota, FL

Guest Bedroom

Bed and headboard – Four Hands, High Point, NC 

Pillows – Ryan Studio, ryanstudio.com

Night table – West Elm, westelm.com

Lamp – Crate & Barrel, Sarasota, FL

Bench – Crate & Barrel, Sarasota, FL 

Area rug – Loloi, High Point, NC

Back Exterior

Chairs and lounges – Crate & Barrel, Sarasota, FL

Dining table and chairs – Crate & Barrel, Sarasota, FL

Pool – Perrone Construction, Sarasota, FL 

Throughout 

Wall covering fabricated by Sarasota Paper Hanger, Sarasota, FL

Home furnishings – Blu Home, Sarasota, FL

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