Sarasota Modern Farmhouse Was Worth the Wait

After a lifetime of designing residences for others, an architect finds a prime lot in Bradenton for his dream home next to the Manatee River

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If the old story about the cobbler’s children going without shoes holds true, then it’s fitting that Jim Schmidt didn’t have the opportunity to design a home for himself and his wife, Ann, until just before he retired from MKC Architects in Columbus, Ohio. The couple had been crisscrossing Florida, visiting Boca Raton, Naples, and Sarasota, before setting their sights on the region to the south of Tampa. Anna Maria Island or Longboat Key seemed likely spots to lay down roots, though the traffic and transient nature of those places weren’t quite what their hearts desired. Enter Bradenton—specifically the historic homes along Riverview Boulevard. The location was a boater’s dream, only three miles from the beach, and with access to all of Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay.  

“This is definitely a neighborhood where people live year-round,” says Schmidt. “We liked that it’s not all rentals, and from a boating standpoint, it’s really an ideal location to be in.” 

In 2016, the couple moved into a place a mile or so from the spot they’d eventually call home. “There are some really beautiful homes [on Riverview], but most of them are older and it’s rare for a lot to become available,” says Schmidt. “But then one did.” The architect didn’t hesitate and promptly purchased the land. 

Schmidt was still working full-time when he began designing what started out as a modern farmhouse that evolved, he says, into something different. He was aware of the historic legacy of the neighborhood and wanted to create something modern, but not out of place with the houses that were already there. He considered the typology of homes constructed in the early 20th century, and decided he needed to lean into those traditional forms and shapes. He came up with the ideal compromise, a structure that’s modern enough for his sensibilities yet still blends into the context of the neighborhood. 

The house consists of two portions divided by a central foyer that leads from the front door through the public living spaces to the lanai, and then all the way to the shores of the Manatee River. On the other side of the walkway is the two-story private portion of the building, with the primary suite on the first floor and two guest bedrooms and an office.  

“Even though it’s an asymmetrical house, it’s organized very symmetrically,” says Schmidt, referencing the walls, columns, staircase, fireplace, and stove hood aligning to maximize movement and the natural light made possible by 13 larger-than-usual windows. The buildout took nearly two years to complete—in small part because those windows and other elements were held up in pandemic-era supply chain issues—before the couple set up residence in February 2022. Both husband and wife agree the wait was worth it. 

To assure that all the aesthetic elements of the property, both inside and out, were consciously thought through, Schmidt and his wife hired a landscape architect and an interior designer. In terms of the interiors, the entire palette for the house is extremely neutral—white, black, native coral stone, and oak. The wooden trusses are finished slightly darker than the pickled oak floors to evoke the sensibilities of a timber frame house. The light fixtures are bold, and in some cases oversized to fill the expansive spaces with warm, ambient lighting. From the water, Schmidt says, it’s easy to find his way home by the glow cast over the river. 

When color is introduced, it’s purposeful. Schmidt points to the artwork on either side of the fireplace in the great room seating nook as an example. Commissioned by local artist William Corr, one references the couple’s Midwestern roots and the other illustrates the coastal lifestyle they now enjoy in Florida. The pool features a deep blue that’s intended to match the color of the river, making the spill-over infinity edge visually meld with the natural body of water.  

“I’ve designed houses for many other people, but never one for myself,” says Schmidt. “This is the first one. It was fun. And it was about time.”

Story Credits:

Architecture by Jim Schmidt, MKC Architects, Columbus, OH

Landscape Architecture by Michael L. Gilkey, Sarasota, FL

Text by Kelley Marcellus

Photography by Ryan Gamma, Sarasota, FL

Open to see Interior Design Sources:

Sources

Back Exterior

Lounges and chairs – RH, Tampa, FL

Fire pit – RH, Tampa, FL

Pool designed by Michael L. Gilkey, Sarasota, FL, and fabricated by Tom Sanger Pool and Spa, Bradenton, FL

Living Room

Sofas – RH, Tampa, FL

Chairs – RH, Tampa, FL

Cocktail table – RH, Tampa, FL

Sofa back console – RH, Tampa, FL

Chandelier – RH, Tampa, FL

Floor lamps – RH, Tampa, FL

Area rug – RH, Tampa, FL

Kitchen

Cabinetry and island designed by Campbell Cabinetry Designs, Sarasota, FL, and fabricated by Campbell Cabinetry Designs, Sarasota, FL

Hood – Wolf, Ferguson Enterprises, Sarasota, FL

Stools – RH, Tampa, FL

Pendant lighting – RH, Tampa, FL

Wall lighting – RH, Tampa, FL

Dining Room

Table – RH, Tampa, FL

Chairs – RH, Tampa, FL

Chandelier – RH, Tampa, FL

Primary Bathroom

Shower designed by Jim Schmidt, MKC Architects, Columbus, OH, and fabricated by Ross Built Custom Homes, Bradenton, FL

Tub – Kohler, Ferguson Enterprises, Sarasota, FL

Primary Bedroom

Bed – RH, Tampa, FL

Dresser – RH, Tampa, FL

Chair – RH, Tampa, FL

Area rug – RH, Tampa, FL

Loggia

Seating area – RH, Tampa, FL

Cocktail table – RH, Tampa, FL

Drink table – RH, Tampa, FL

Dining table – RH, Tampa, FL

Chairs – RH, Tampa, FL

Throughout 

Exterior architecture – MKC Architects, Columbus, OH

Builder – Ross Built Custom Homes, Bradenton, FL

Landscape architecture – Michael L. Gilkey,  Sarasota, FL

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