Local Luminaries Share their Best-Loved Spaces at Home

My Favorite Room
Scott Holstein

While many of us love the houses we live in, there’s usually a place within that home that brings a special sort of delight. It could be the site of family gatherings, like the living room, or the refuge found in an oversized bathroom tub. Or, it could be a place that’s designed to be the perfect place just for us, like a reading nook or hobby room.

Several notable people in the local community graciously opened their homes to Tallahassee Magazine, to allow our readers to see those distinctive places — and share with us what makes them so special.

Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda – The Living Room

The living room of state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda was inspired by the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. She painted the soaring ceiling blue, with three-dimensional stars hanging down to match those in the hotel lobby. The walls were painted gold to create a warm atmosphere.

“It’s such a big room that we kind of wanted to make it cozier,” she said.

One of Rehwinkel Vasilinda’s favorite memories of her living room is when an opera singer performed at a Christmas party for her friends and family a few years ago. The acoustics in the room were wonderful because of the 16-feet-high ceilings, she said.

Another unique element of the room is the gold trim with hand-painted roses bordering the walls of the room to emulate a garden rail. “We wanted to bring the outside in,” she said.


Peter Boulware – The Living Room

Peter Boulware’s living room scores some major points.

The newly remodeled room has a ski lodge feel with cozy couches, armchairs and a sleigh bench. The room gives you a look into the feel of the house since it’s the first one guests walk through when entering the front door, said Boulware, who’s a co-owner of Legacy Toyota and was a star linebacker for Florida State University and the Baltimore Ravens.

An entire wall of reclaimed brick from Chicago and a ceiling of old barn wood from Virginia add a rustic feel to the warm living room. “It feels very comfortable,” he said.

Unlike most households, there’s no TV. Large glass double doors let in enough light for occupants to read on the couch or enjoy family conversation. With four children and one on the way, the room is set apart from the commotion as a place to unwind.

“This is an area where we can just relax, enjoy the room and enjoy the elements of the room,” he said.


Virginia Glass – The Front Porch

After working in Tallahassee real estate for 44 years, and as the owner of many investment properties, Virginia Glass knows a thing or two about what makes a good house. She decided to buy her current home in 2003 before she had even toured its bedrooms. “I did everything I tell my clients not to do,” she said. “I offered $5,000 over the asking (price).”

She fell in love with the home’s large kitchen and dining room because she loves to cook and entertain. Still, her favorite room isn’t even inside the home. It is the front porch, which overlooks a small lake shared by only a dozen nearby homes. “There’s nothing more serene than seeing the water,” Glass said. “I enjoy hearing the Canadian geese that fly in to say hello. It’s like taking a tranquilizer.” 



Beth Langford – The Kitchen/Family Room

You might think the commanding view of Lake Jackson — along with the occasional bald eagle flyby — is what makes Beth Langford’s kitchen/family room her favorite. But you’d be wrong.

“For 15 years I fed my two children, every morning, right there on those two stools,” she said, pointing to the kitchen’s breakfast bar. “It was the start of every day.”

On a quick tour of the room, she pointed to a casual dining table, saying, “this was homework, this was dinner,” and then says “this was TV,” gesturing in the direction of the comfortable family room. “This is the energy room, the family hub.”

As “very recent” empty nesters with two children in college, the rooms in the Langford’s home are more low key now, but shelves, tabletops and even the kitchen counters are filled with dozens of memories captured in framed snapshots. But Langford isn’t exactly pining away at home. In addition to serving on the boards of several local nonprofit groups, she also stays on the go as national president of Kappa Delta sorority.


Samantha Strickland – The Nursery

Samantha Strickland knew this was her favorite room even before its occupant moved in.

The nursery was her attempt at nesting when she was expecting baby Sloan. “I would just sit in here and think about what she was going to be like,” said Strickland, who was a vice president at Florida Commerce Credit Union and is now launching a new marketing company, Pea Green Solutions.

She picked and discarded several different ideas until finally settling on the green, black and white color scheme, a motif she felt her daughter, who turns one in January, could grow into.

“We knew we’d be spending a lot of time in here,” she said. “We wanted this room to be serene and calm and just a place to relax.” The most important feature of the uncluttered room (toys are relegated to another part of the house) is the overstuffed beige recliner where Strickland says she spends much of her time rocking Sloan to sleep.

One of her favorite moments is coming into the room first thing in the morning and seeing the baby’s little head pop up out of the crib.


Mary Maida – The Living Room

Signature Gallery owner Mary Maida brings her work home with her.

Art in all different mediums, from painting to sculpture, is displayed throughout the room on shelves and walls, showcasing some of Tallahassee’s most famous artists. In between the fine art are travel mementos, family pieces and pottery the kids made in kindergarten. “It’s full of a lot of our favorite things,” she said.

The focal point of the room is the large wall creation by local artist Denise Choppin. Fifteen squares of vibrant color pop out from the walls and are the first thing one notices when walking into the living room. “The room is neutral so the art really makes a statement,” Maida said.

When Maida and her husband built the home in 2003, she planned the living room so it would accommodate a blended family of five teenagers, dogs, cats, friends and family.

“It’s definitely the room where we live,” she said.

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