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French Floridian

With a circular driveway in the front, you may think you’ve pulled up at Versailles – until you notice the magnificent ocean view. Located in the waterfront town of Manalapan, on the inlet just north of Boynton Beach, the sprawling home is a mix of French villa inspiration and the Florida tropics. Tucked on an inlet between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, it is completely surrounded by Florida’s natural beauty. Replete with tennis courts, a swimming pool and a dock, it’s truly fit for someone looking to experience the great outdoors.

Inside the massive 21,352-square-foot home, the design team at Marc-Michaels Interior Design worked to incorporate the traditional European design elements into the Florida scenery. Jeff Strasser, chief creative officer, and Shannon Coyman, residential project manager, worked on the home from 2011 to 2013, bringing it to life.

The Great Outdoors

“What I love about this house is how the inside flows so fluidly to the outdoor spaces,” Coyman says.

The home has a swimming pool on the east and west sides of the property, each providing different outdoor experiences. The east pool, surrounded by grass and concrete grids, abuts the Atlantic Ocean for a peaceful day in the sun. The family room extends outside with a sitting area shaded from the sun. Tables, chairs and umbrellas beside the pool follow the family room’s color scheme.

“We took the soft mint and coral colors of the family room and we intensified them,” Coyman says of the burnt orange pillows and umbrellas.

However, for those especially windy days, one can retreat to the pool on the west side of the property. Fit with a summer kitchen with a grill and wet bar and glass mosaic hot tub, it’s truly a space for entertaining. Nearby tennis courts with a canvas cabana shield players from the heat between sets.

Avid car fans are meant to be in this home, which has a 20-space garage. Designed in the spirit of an Italian showroom, a custom, high-end garage floor is illuminated by directional spotlighting. On the walls, designers chose contemporary automobile art.

Creating a Home

With 8 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, the $45 million mansion is the largest speculative home with which the Marc-Michaels Interior Design team has worked.

“It’s definitely a challenge to make spaces feel unique and warm, but also make the house flow from one space to another,” Strasser says.

To accomplish this, the team worked to make the design reflect a family’s home, not a model design. In the dining room, one can see artwork of shells, a collection of stone figures, as well as Asian statuettes all in one space. However, in the breakfast room, a more tropical feel is achieved with bright drapery and bamboo greenery.

“We tried to make model feel like a true residential project, like perhaps the person who lived there traveled to Asia and these are the things that they purchased along the way,” Coyman says. “It makes it feel a little more homey when you’re not so stuck to one aesthetic as far as your accessories and your artwork.”

Plus, with the home designed with the inspiration of a French villa, Strasser and Coyman were also tackling bringing together traditional French design with more contemporary, “now moments,” as the two call them. Throughout the maison, clean and simple furniture was juxtaposed with more modern accessories and tables. In the living room, for instance, two wooden tables in the shape of a geometric star are placed next to muted chairs and couches. “The furniture was a little bit cleaner; the artwork was definitely more contemporary,” Strasser points out.

Serene Colorscapes

With so much natural vibrancy in the outdoors, the team chose to create rooms that imbue the calmness of a tranquil oasis with muted colors. “The monochromatic [colors] like in the living room, dining room and even the VIP gives a little bit more of a sense of elegance,” Strasser says. “The real color comes in more in the family room and such where it’s a much more vibrant space, a little more casual and it references the beach more.”

Generally, guests are treated to calming rooms with creams, whites and other soft colors in contrast only with dark wood detailing in the furniture and door frames that lead to the palm trees outside. The same applies in the master bedroom, where one is enveloped with wraparound windows and a view of the water. Perhaps one of the most impressive rooms, it also held the biggest challenges as it gave designers very little flat wall space to work with. “[The windows were] such a great element of the house and it’s great for the view, but it’s hard to furnish correctly,” Strasser says.

An elegant four-poster bed was positioned along the room’s only full wall, and a seating area was created to utilize the large room’s circular center space. Another small wall in the room was filled with shelving that incorporates a small office space.

Because there was so little wall space, the designers decided to add another “wow” factor to the room by placing it up top – on the ceiling. Rachel Jones, project manager of interior detailing, created a textured ceiling with patterned molding based on a design found in a book on French homes. It’s a feature that can’t be missed.

Inspiration Pieces

Upon initial entry into the home, the designers were immediately inspired by the black-and-white geometric floor in the Tidewater Hall. “It really set up a vibe for the house – that amazing, patterned, marble floor to me totally sets it all up,” Strasser says. Now, standing in the foyer are two lanky statues guarding the hallway flooded with light by massive windows and doors to bring the outside in.

Another floor that was a source of inspiration was the master bathroom for her – a subtle white and onyx sort of mosaic that lent to a clean and contemporary but classic French powder room for the lady of the house. A white standalone tub sits by a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the ocean. Next to it, a large mirror hangs before modern lacquered cabinetry. “The cabinetry is lacquered instead of painted and it doesn’t have moldings on it. It’s just very clean,” Strasser says of the choice of furnishing.

The greatest element to bring the home’s history to life and into the modern era was through the selection of lighting fixtures. Sconces, chandeliers and drum shades of all colors and materials were used in the home. “We kind of did a mixture of the typical lanterns, but instead of being old rusty bronze, they’re in a polished nickel, which to me gives a cleaner, little contemporary vibe and then using some of the lucite ones and the drum shades all add a sense of interest,” Strasser says.

Some standout fixtures are the lucite and polished chrome pendants above the kitchen’s island – they can also be spotted in the foyer. The design team chose smoky quartz crystal to meld together an old-style fixture with new school glass pieces. “I love those just because they add a little glitz,” Coyman says. “That kitchen is pretty clean; it nods to the contemporary vibe of the house that we were trying to bring into the less formal spaces.”

In the library, the modern chandelier with 14 bronze-colored pendant lights adds masculinity and darker colors to a home that sees a lot of bright hues. These are in strong contrast to the more traditional, feminine crystal chandelier hanging above the vanity in the master bath for her.

“This house was big, and really, it was a challenge to make it feel warm and inviting without being too cluttered,” Strasser says. “I think we accomplished it very well by keeping it fresh, but also keeping it very warm and inviting.”