Design — 03 March 2017
What luxury means today in home design

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

City & Shore Magazine

We see the word “luxury’’ all the time, but what does it mean today in home design? Better to ask, how is it evolving.

Designers say “luxury” no longer means over-the-top looks that invite comparisons with Versailles. Instead, they’re getting the lush look their clients want with beautiful tile, spacious bathrooms, elegant staircases and home theaters evoking the homeowners’ love of high-end shops and Vegas showrooms.

All part of a trend toward luxury, redefined.





It’s every designer’s dream: Envision and design the luxury décor of a multi-million dollar spec home.

Shannon Callahan and Rachel Ortiz, senior designers for Marc-Michaels Interior Design, did just that for a $42.5 million waterfront home on Palm Beach island. The estate home, on more than an acre, has seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

“We wanted more of a traditional element but cleaner design,” Ortiz says of the 14,363-square-foot home. “We love warm wood tones and natural stone.”

The foyer is a good example of the mix. Instead of designing the flooring in just natural stone, the designers created a checkerboard pattern in stone accented with planks of wood to warm the area. They had the elegant staircase railing finished to look like white bronze – a mixture of darker bronze and white. The custom-made shagreen console with hammered bronze legs gives what the designers call “an edgy moment.”

The loggia, just off the breakfast area, features a limed-cypress ceiling that will get lighter with age. The wall around the bar is clad in oyster shells to provide texture. Retractable screens allow shade when needed and bug-free dining at night. Bar stools face the outdoor kitchen.

The shower’s blue and white tile, an El Cielo mosaic made of white mother of pearl and blue marble, was the inspiration for the 20-by-20 foot women’s bathroom. The shower has multiple showerheads and a handheld spray.  A clear glass enclosure allows it to be a backdrop for the soaking tub, one of the most requested tubs in upscale bathrooms. Next to the tub is a pedestal clad in white agate inlaid in a square pattern to accommodate towels and beauty items. The round domed ceiling is covered in silver leaf. Beyond the bath area is a custom closet designed to accommodate plenty of Chanel, Prada and Jimmy Choos.

The 16-by-18 foot guest bath is glamorous enough to make guests want to stay forever. They followed the same idea as in the woman’s bath, using an Estrella Grande tile in a floral mosaic and a clear glass shower surround to emphasize the sunken tub. The guest shower also has multiple body sprays and a hand-held spray. Extra glam comes from a glass-bubble chandelier.

The 23-by-22 foot master bedroom on the first floor has an 18-by-17 foot sitting room separated by a custom stained-walnut wall in a starburst pattern. The bedroom side has room for a console and flat-screen television; the flip side is built for storage. Behind the bed is an upholstered wall. The blue-and-white draperies are a modern interpretation of traditional damask.

“When doing spec houses, we want them to be both practical and functional,” Callahan says.




Susan Lachance defines luxury as “opulent, tasteful and the best of the best.

“I have been in business for 40 some years and I don’t think it has changed,” she says. “Clients define luxury as kitchens and bathrooms with state-of-the-art plumbing fixtures and materials, home theaters and outdoor entertaining areas. It doesn’t necessarily mean marble floors or marble walls like it did years ago. They want more up-to-date materials that are just as expensive but innovative.”

This Stone Creek Ranch in Delray has a fully dressed outdoor area, which is becoming more important to South Floridians. The area resembles a family room with draperies, ceiling details, chandeliers and comfortable furniture. Retractable bug screens make outdoor living more comfortable.

The family room’s large bar has a Mondrian design composed of a variety of woods echoing all of the elements in the house. Behind the bar is a wall of LED lights that change color.

“The original intent was to design a waterfall, but there were too many issues with potential splashing,” she says.

One of the most dramatic rooms is the home theater designed to resemble a Las Vegas hotel with patterned carpets and a Starlight ceiling composed of LEDs showing through tiny prick holes in the fabric. The screen looks like a Las Vegas show and the shops lining the walls pay homage to the client’s favorite shops, Pucci and Cartier, as they look at Caesar’s Palace.

A project located in St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton has a luxurious master bathroom with multi-colored glass mosaic tile in the shower, surrounding the tub and the backsplash. The frameless glass shower enclosure echoes the curves in the ceiling. It has body sprays instead of an overhead Rain Shower.

“You don’t find a lot of rain heads in women’s baths,” she says. “They don’t like them because they have their hair done often. Men, on the other hand, like them.”



Shannon Callahan and Rachel Ortiz
Marc-Michaels Interior Design, 850 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 561-362-7037,

Susan Lachance
Susan Lachance Interior Design, 1001 Clint Moore Road, #100, Boca Raton, 561-241-3800,







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