HOME Home & Decor — 05 June 2015
The worldly influence on South Florida style

South Floridians are well traveled, and they’re asking designers to decorate in a style reflecting the best furnishings they’ve seen on their travels around the globe. Some take a literal interpretation. Others drop in accents of their favorite destinations. Here are three examples inspired by Brazil, France and Asia.

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub




Asian touches give a Zen vibe to the contemporary design that has become popular in South Florida.

Joseph Cortes and Kevin Marnell created a style they call Indochine in a home on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. They painted the dark beams a lighter color and decorated them with a Balinese design. The walls were painted the distinctive orange of a Hermès box.

“We used the Hermès color to make the room feel warm and cozy,” Cortes says. “We framed the window with Asian temple colors of pumpkin silk and added a reed shade to give more texture.”

White upholstery and tropical pillows with a dragon-fly motif keep the room from appearing too dark. Asian accessories include a Buddha head and chunky bamboo-style candlesticks. A sculptural wooden chair from Lucia International in West Palm Beach is a reinterpretation of a Mies van der Rohe piece. A silk carpet picks up the color scheme.

The den in a waterfront home in West Palm Beach was given an Asian feel with a large standing Buddha on the terrace that faces the inside. The window, framed with aqua faux silk panels, contrasts with a bold ikat fabric valance in aqua and brown.

“This room shows how you can mix contemporary furniture and a classical valance,” Cortes says.

Cortes and Marnell designed a wood surround on a master bathroom window to bring the Moorish style of the architecture inside at the 2015 Red Cross Designers’ Show House in Lake Worth. The theme was carried out with mosaic tile and a custom wallpaper in a ginkgo leaf pattern by Jenny Kiker Living Pattern in West Palm Beach.




The trend in South Florida may be lean and contemporary, but Eloise Kubli still sees a demand for formal and elegant French design – such as a home she designed for a retired couple on the Intracoastal in Boca Raton.

“My clients came to me with an incredible Lalique table,” Kubli says. “The Cactus table is usually seen only in museums or with rare clients because it is a very expensive piece.”

When someone walks into the home, the table is the focal point of the foyer. Its elegance and formality were echoed with a crystal chandelier that the clients owned. A pair of French chairs with gold leaf and silk brocade, a painting by Spanish impressionist Giner Bueno and an Empire pedestal complete the entry.

“The clients wanted the design to be opulent but in a subdued way,” she says. “They came to me with a lot of porcelain – Meissen and Staffordshire. They had a lovely collection, but they were open minded.”

Kubli transformed an ordinary room into an elegant place to entertain guests with cocktails before dinner. The walls were faux finished, and white trim surrounding the windows were painted to match the custom-designed bar. But the pièce de résistance is the trompe l’oeil painting that was created on canvas and hung like wallpaper. Photos the female client had liked inspired artist Bonnie Bleiweiss to create the design. The rug is custom-made by Stark, and the bar stools are silk brocade Scalamandre also used in the Ritz Hotel in Paris.




Louis Shuster and Gage Hartung received an interesting travel request from clients who bought property in a Boca Raton golf-course community.

“The best way for you to know what we want is for you to come to Brazil and see how we live,” the clients said. So the designers traveled to São Paulo and stayed at their clients’ home a few times.

“They wanted to duplicate that lifestyle in Florida,” Shuster says.

The clients preferred to shop in Brazil instead of buying from Brazilian furniture stores in Miami because they got a better price shopping direct and handled shipping themselves. Shuster and Hartung returned twice to shop at the São Paulo Design Center and purchased furniture from designers Carlos Motta, Claudia Moreira Salles, Amelia Tarozzo and architect Oscar Niemeyer.

“I got such an education going to the design center in São Paulo,” Shuster says. “Our clients are young attorneys and they knew where to take us. Almost everything in this job was purchased there.”

The clients bought a single story house on a premier lakefront lot but decided to tear it down because they wanted a second floor for guest rooms and staff. The designers worked from the ground up with Cudmore Builders, Colestock & Muir architects and landscape architect Krent Wieland to create a 13,000-square-foot estate home.

Everything was designed to showcase the clients’ collection of Brazilian art.

“They like the art to be the color in their home,” Shuster says. “The husband collected these pieces since he was a child. We played the color palette down so the art sings. They love warm woods and textures. Some of the woods are from Brazil and some from Africa.”

The husband stayed on top of the progress with daily pictures and monthly meetings.

“It’s all about communicating,” Shuster says.


Joseph Cortes and Kevin Marnell
HomeLife Interiors, 3506 S. Dixie Highway, West
Palm Beach, 561-312-1322, hlinteriors.com.

Eloise Kubli
102 NW 100th Ave., Plantation, 954-733-8282, collectiveconst-design.com.

Louis Shuster and Gage Hartung
Shuster Design Associates, 1401 NE 26th St., Wilton Manors, 954-462-6400, shusterdesign.com.


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