Paul Courchene and Jim Luckie made it easy on their movers. For six years the couple lived in a traditional, 1920s Spanish Colonial–style residence that Courchene built near the ocean in historic Delray Beach, Fla., just north of Boca Raton. When an adjacent lot became available, they decided to purchase it and build a spec house. "We wanted to control what was going in next door," says Courchene, a South Florida builder of high-end homes. "But once we got into the design process, we knew we were really building a home for ourselves. So we moved next door."
Working closely with architect Randall Stofft and designer Jeff Strasser of Marc-Michaels Interior Design in Winter Park, Fla., Courchene and Luckie created a 5,300-square-foot home with an aesthetic distinctly different from that of their prior residence. In the backyard pool area and throughout the home, the feel is classic yet contemporary, with a nod to the Far East. "Paul and Jim have traveled extensively in Asia," Strasser says. "You’ll find subtle Asian influences throughout the house."
Green with Entry
A custom mahogany-and-glass front door that evokes an Asian screen sets the aesthetic tone of the residence. Inside, a floor of honed black marble laid in a staggered pattern extends from the foyer into the living and dining rooms. Oak stairs that lead to second-floor guest accommodations exude a clean-lined solidity that is balanced by the delicacy of a wrought-iron handrail created by a local metalworker. "We thought hard about the handrail and even considered steel cable," Courchene says. "But we wanted something with both a lightness and a handcrafted, artisan quality." The painting depicting calla lilies, by Canadian artist James Lahey, inspired the choice of the vibrant green leather that covers the bench. "It’s an unexpected hit of color in an otherwise neutral area," Strasser says.
The intimate feel of the roughly 600-square-foot living room reflects the owners’ preference for spaces with an embracing, human scale. "We’re not fans of huge, two-story-high rooms," Courchene says. Right angles and straight lines figure prominently throughout the space, which features wall paneling of rift-sawn white oak and a custom coffee table of tiered rosewood rectangles. In the bar area behind the sofa, a Mark Kaplan painting—presented in a triple-ridged frame that swings away from the wall to reveal a liquor-storage compartment—also contributes to this aesthetic. Upholstered walls, sheer drapes, and twin pendant lighting fixtures of amber Murano glass soften the rectilinear effect slightly. "The window treatments allow you to get a sense of the pool outside while keeping your focus inside the room," Strasser says. The four-sided fireplace, which is faced in moss-green Brazilian granite and surrounded by glass, opens to the living and dining rooms.
The dining room displays an eclectic mix of international treasures, many of which Courchene and Luckie acquired while traveling. An antique Chinese lacquered chest and a 19th-century Burmese Buddha of alabaster and glass mosaic are among their finds. "We backed the statue with a mirrored wall to add a slight glisten to the room and make it feel larger," Strasser says. The owners found the room’s chandeliers of interlocking glass links, by Global Views, closer to home—at a showroom in Atlanta. Because each fixture weighs 560 pounds, Courchene had to reinforce the ceiling and add a column to the wall before he could hang them. The chandeliers illuminate a custom wenge-wood table that seats 12 and dining chairs that are upholstered in a meshlike nylon fabric from Holly Hunt.
Strasser and the owners wanted to create sanctuaries of calm in the three upstairs guest suites and in the main-floor master suite. They painted the master bedroom’s walls and ceiling a tranquil pale blue, and installed French doors that open directly onto the poolside patio and its rustling palms. Asian-inspired wood lattices with inset mirrors flank a wall of upholstered Ultrasuede panels, both of which Courchene helped design. "The wall not only gives the illusion of a headboard," Strasser says, "it adds some drama to a room that is visually very quiet."
The main-floor master bath, decorated in the same neutral tones as the bedroom, features custom cherry millwork and a counter of earthy Yellow Root marble. A silver-leaf ceiling tops Venetian-plaster walls. A mirrored folding screen and floor-to-ceiling mohair drapes obscure a window that overlooks the front garden and the street. "The screen and drapes provide needed privacy," Strasser says. "But they still allow natural light and air into the room."
Taking It Outside
The covered loggia is next to to the family room and accessible through a wall of sliding glass doors. It is a virtual continuation of the indoor space, with the same architectural ceiling detail and Spanish-marble floor found in the adjoining family room. "Visually, it reads as one space," Strasser says. The owners use the outdoor room frequently from December through May, firing up the barbecue in the adjacent alcove’s full kitchen. They often host small dinners at the dining table, which has a hand-painted, glazed ceramic top they found in Florence, Italy. A casual but chic rattanlike sofa and matching loveseat by Rausch Classics face a cast-stone fireplace; atop the mantel is a bronze stand from Mexico that depicts astrological signs. "The fireplace provides warmth on the infrequent cold nights we have here in South Florida," says Courchene. "And otherwise it makes for great ambience." Push-button retractable screens between the classically inspired columns keep flying insects at bay while still allowing views of the pool and the garden’s lush tropical plantings.
With its clean lines and classical architectural references, the room embodies the creative dynamic of the entire home. "I’m inclined toward the traditional," Courchene says, "and Jim likes the contemporary. In this house we had to meet halfway, and sometimes that meant going to the next level to find something we both liked. In the end, I think the effort paid off."