Someone Else’s Gain?

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Marc-Michaels Interior Design typically does not spend months on a large project only to learn it is destined to change hands, but such is the case of one nearly 6,000-square-foot manse in Wellington’s famed Palm Beach Polo & Country Club. “We started with the assumption that the owners were going to move into it,” recalls Mark Tremblay, president of the Boca Raton-based Marc-Michaels. “We already had it under construction.” 

Now priced at $6 million and listed with Engel & Völkers’ Carol Sollak, the Mediterranean-style house on Cypress Island Way is billed as a fully furnished masterpiece, awash in relaxing shades of silver, ivory and white with the occasional splash of blue. An Orlando couple intended to use it as an escape, largely letting the award-winning design team at Marc-Michaels take the reins. “They wanted it light, fresh and airy,” Tremblay explains.

Before its evolution, the home, which was built in 2012, sat on the market. “It was dark and dreary,” he recalls. “It was a well-built house but it suffered from a lot of bad finishes.” However, Tremblay, along with his team of talented designers, quickly saw potential in the four-bedroom, 6½-bathroom sanctuary with a saltwater pool.  

Many coats of creamy white paint and some contemporary light fixtures transformed the exterior instantly. “We thought it should feel a little Santa Barbara-ish,” Tremblay recalls. Inside, the designers found myriad opportunities to repurpose or refinish, with RWB Construction Management handling the heavy lifting. The kitchen cabinetry was preserved and repainted with Sherwin-Williams’ High Reflective White (SW 7757) or Requisite Gray (SW 7023), then topped with new Neolith countertops. The team added a lacquered blue island in the center to allow for better flow and made the hood a focal point after converting it to a lovely bronze.

The dining room lacked a view since it sits at the front of the house, so Tremblay says they “created an internal moment,” turning a wine room door into a show-stopping art piece and adding a Hickory Chair Duchamp Demilune sideboard with a Satilla marble top. The team also lowered the ceiling, removed a stepped coffer and dropped a soffit, then lacquered it and added pockets for chrome-colored Pollack Shanghai drapes.

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The design firm nodded to the home’s equestrian-steeped address. “We don’t need to reference everything to be equestrian-related,” Tremblay explains, “but we included a few pieces of art that reflect the environment. The built-in in the family room was completely custom-made: We used brass and different tones of saddle leather above the hand-built fireplace. There are some faux furs to bring in texture. But we didn’t go crazy.”

An inky blue woven mesh wall covering from Weitzner anchors the living room and an Averline by Hickory Chair seat and throw pillows serve as fitting complements. The office also reflects various shades of blue throughout and includes plenty of comfortable seating, but the main feature is a dramatically draped, custom seven-globe chandelier with smoky glass pendants. 

The master bedroom, which overlooks a waterway, benefits from diffused natural light filtered through floor-to-ceiling natural Managgio II drapery by Corragio. Mila swivel chairs, a Sutton by Hickory Chair sofa and a Romo chaise provide ample space for lounging. The master bedroom is inarguably the house’s most romantic space—exactly what the clients requested.

Marc-Michaels has worked with numerous homeowners to make their estates equally fitting, many of which are located in the Polo Club, and the firm has relationships around the globe. But Tremblay credits South Florida for providing the initial boost: “We started in 1985 as an Orlando-based firm. We did well but really started to blossom when we started doing work in South Florida. No one had really seen our approach to design, our California influence. We grew like crazy.” 

Founded by co-owners Marc Thee and Michael Abbott, the firm currently has 55 employees based in Winter Park and Boca Raton. The pandemic, Tremblay says, did not slow them down: “COVID-19 made our online process even stronger than ever. We had to do presentations on Zoom, GoToMeeting or FaceTime. We didn’t miss a beat.” Promoting from within has also help the company to thrive, he says: “We have a good apprentice program here where we promote from within and we never hire outside. We train them to be the next generation of great designers. We’d rather invest in our own people.”

Though successes like this Wellington home prove that Marc-Michaels could opt to expand its influence exponentially, even with clients who—pardon the pun—change horses in midstream, Tremblay says the firm is rightsized: “We do not plan on growing and we do not plan on branching out to other offices. In this type of business, success is core people being together. Design philosophies, inspirations, also the collaboration with all the creatives really makes what we do special. And there’s a commonality to all our design projects: We look for that sense of warmth. There are always layers of warmth that make it a home. That’s what we do.”

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Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

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