Keeping Up Appearances

As my sister, Katherine, prepared for a six month stay in France she asked our other sister, Andrea, who lived in Paris for three years, for pointers on getting along with the notoriously anti-American French. Andrea's only advice, "dress well, people will treat you well even if you mangle the language and kiss cheeks the inappropriate number of times; this confuses the class-obsessed Frenchies into thinking you must be upper crust since they really don't really know where Americans should fall in social ranking."

I could have told her that. Let's face it - it really is true - the better you look the more you see, wherever you live.

In college, I lived with two women, Stephanie and Melanie. Never could two girls be more opposite. Melanie bleached her hair to that fried baby tender love stage, carried an extra 30 pounds in her thighs, and had a complexion that could only be called problematic. Melanie always had a snarl and an unkind word for everyone. She parked next to me in the garage and intentionally opened her door into the side of my car every single day I lived with her.

Stephanie is one of those outstanding beauties who inspires people. Men and women alike constantly walked up to her to say, "You are the most beautiful person I have ever seen." Then they would just walk away. It was amazing and I always felt awed to be in the presence of such a force. I hate to even mention that she went on to graduate first in her class at medical school, is perhaps the kindest, most unassuming person on the planet, the mother of three darling children, and looks so young that her patients frequently mistake her for a candy striper.

Back when we were trying to furnish our apartment, someone gave us a sofa which we had to pick up from a house 30 minutes away. We didn't have a plan to retrieve it until Stephanie said, "Oh, I'll just go get somebody." The girl walked outside to the street and flagged down the first pickup truck that drove by. The guy stopped, they had a very brief conversation then she came to tell us he had agreed to go pick up the sofa. All of this took place in about three minutes. Melanie was somehow incensed by the whole thing and wouldn't even go with us. I think she realized that if she had tried such a thing, the guy probably would have looked the other way.

Melanie will never be as popular as Stephanie (who went out with Charlie Sheen in his heyday, for goodness sake) but she could try a little harder to be nice. Perhaps if she stopped sneering for a minute someone would be kind to her too. You know, work with what she does have.

Thomas Buckley decided to work with what he had when he began renovations on 1937 Hart Road. The brick ranch, painted inside and out in a popular-in-Florida shade of aqua blue, had good bones with its large formal dining room, living room and well-placed kitchen. It needed a master bedroom and bathroom and a grander vista. And of course, some paint.

Thomas looked to the experts to plan his makeover. To open up the house as well as create an architectural focus, architect Eric Shaffer designed a stunning 30 x 15 foot greatroom with ten-and-a-half foot ceilings and a wall of windows overlooking a mature landscaped garden. He also designed the luxurious master bedroom suite with two large walk-in closets, a marble tiled shower, and whirlpool tub.

Decorator Sue Ann Truitt advised ditching the aqua and chose neutral colors for the interior and exterior, beige ceramic tile and maple cabinets for the gourmet kitchen, and peaceful wallpaper for the dining room.

Through Thomas, Eric and Sue Ann's efforts, the once garish eyesore has been replaced with an elegant, thoroughly modern showplace.

1937 Hart Road

3350 square feet


4 bedrooms, 3 and a half baths

Contact Thomas Buckley 229-8700

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.