The Best Of All Worlds

A Well-Traveled Businessman Comes Home To A Place He Can Work, Play And Live In Contemporary Style And Comfort
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If knowledge is power, then the firsthand knowledge of design elements from around the world is the power to build a dream house — one that encompasses a variety of global influences and places them under one roof. Such was the case of homeowner Christian Demers, who primarily manages real estate properties worldwide and travels on business for months at a time.

A longtime acquaintance of Massachusetts-based interior designer Susan Acton, Demers had worked with Acton on his previous home, but when he hired her to take on this 10,000-square-foot, contemporary residence in North Palm Beach, Fla., the designer noticed very distinct changes in her client that guided her approach to the project. While the exterior represents several features gleaned from global influences, including the extensive stonework as commonly seen on homes in South Africa and the Bali-inspired pool area, inside, a preference for a clean, airy and uncluttered environment lent itself to a more contemporary design. "I appreciate antiques but modern comforts are more to my taste," the homeowner says.

To this end, Acton selected ceramic tile flooring that gives the look of limestone but with an easier upkeep. Its neutrality allowed for accents of brown, black and gray — a palette that begins in the dining room. Here, expansive windows flood the space with light, while a trio of minimalist, polished-chrome "Flûte" fixtures suspends from a stepped ceiling that Acton designed for added interest.

Industrial barstools from Arravanti flank the kitchen's linear island, constructed by Eggersmann Kitchens with a Makassar wood base and CaesarStone countertop. To the right, a Gaggenau refrigerator blends seamlessly into the white-lacquer cabinetry.

For the type of entertaining Acton knew Demers, a "people person" who loves to be surrounded by friends and family, would want to do, she encouraged him to put a TV in every gathering space. In the living room, one hangs above a mother-of-pearl granite-faced fireplace with a honed black-granite mantel and features a reflective front that doubles as a mirror. Another hidden surprise: the white-leather sofas hold a mechanism that allows the backs to pop up for extra comfort.

Repeating the Makassar ebony-paneled walls of the wine room, the Eggersmann kitchen spares no modern convenience with space-age appliances, such as a built-in Miele coffee machine and cubic Boffi glass hood, that excel in both form and function. Installed flush to the cabinetry, a vibrant aquarium from Living Color creates animated artwork.

Adhering to the bargain Demers made with his wife to work predominantly from home, Acton fashioned a spacious, two-story office that features a favorite oversized oil painting by Jean Gaudreau and a spiral staircase that leads to a loft. When it's playtime, however, guests can gather in a grown-up game room, complete with a multilevel bar on which Acton alternates textures between beige Brix tiles and Zodiaq quartz in Mystic Black. A Lazy Susan tops a cylindrical section for ease in beverage slinging, while the ability to access the space from a swim-up pool bar through the glass windows undeniably elevates the fun factor.

But at the end of the day, the master bedroom is a delicious place to unwind. Here, Acton used oatmeal as the mainstay, as seen in the lush custom-colored carpet, as well as the headboard of a lacquered platform bed upholstered in a lightweight felt. Splashes of orange add punch, such as the striped accent pillow on a white-leather swivel lounge chair, and echo the coloration from another abstract oil painting by Gaudreau displayed nearby. Above the bed, Martin Beaupré's Vivre Divinement adds to the room's calming serenity, while outside and down a spiral staircase, a tropical, resort-like atmosphere can be found with a black-bottomed pool area spotted with sculptural chaises by JANUS et Cie.

Truly a wonderland, the residence demonstrates the synergy between a homeowner who knows what he wants and an intuitive designer who knows how to provide it. "What I enjoyed most was identifying Christian's comfort point and doing the best I could for him," Acton says. With each detail thoughtfully considered, and a world's worth of influences incorporated into the design, it's likely the Demers family, and their many visitors, will be enamored with the home for years to come.

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Interior Design
Susan Acton, Susan B. Acton Interiors, Inc., Cohasset, MA

Harry De Zitter, Naples, FL

Text by
Robin Hodes