Ship Shape

The exterior catches people’s eyes, but inside there are also surprises.


Dale Koppel

Published date: 

Jul. 6, 2014

Homeowners usually choose interior designers because of the other homes they’ve done. But a couple from New Jersey chose Louis Shuster because of a common bond. The three of them hail originally from Philadelphia – home of, yes, brotherly love. 

casa ship4.jpgOf course, the couple liked what they saw on Shuster’s website, too. Everything from deco defined in a pied-a-terre to luxury living on an island getaway. They had the feeling that Shuster would know how to tackle the ho-hum home they inherited from the wife’s father, would be able to translate their vision of what a second home on Fort Lauderdale Beach should look – and feel – like.

casa ship5.jpgThose who know Shuster – head of Shuster Design Associates in Wilton Manors for the past 25 years – know that he’s always up for a challenge. For this challenge, Shuster enlarged the house from about 2,200 square feet to 3,800 square feet. He changed the entire façade. Not only did he give it some dimensionality, by adding an impressive front portico, he also made sure to create breathtaking angles – and views – when he took the house from two stories to three. Now, the house no longer looks like a midcentury box. It looks 

casashipshapefront_2.jpglike a ship or, to some, a dove in flight. No matter, Shuster says, “people slow down in their cars to look at it” – especially at night, when the subtle exterior lighting makes the building absolutely glow. 

His challenge for the interior was to make it “warm and contemporary; low maintenance, meaning functional; and, especially, timeless.” But never boring, thanks to Shuster’s ability to surprise. Just check out the first floor powder room with its curved wall, curved sink and over-all Asian influence.

casa ship1.jpgBut it’s hard to stay inside when there are so many enticements outside. The backyard is all about lifestyle, exactly the lifestyle the home-owners envisioned.  The dysfunctional kidney-shaped pool was replaced by the perfect lap pool, with an adjoining sun ledge for getting just enough sun before heading under one of the convenient awnings, perhaps to sit at the bar and watch TV or start preparing dinner in the well-stocked and fully equipped summer kitchen. 

The large third floor terrace is right outside a loft area that boasts a wet bar. The even larger roof deck above has vistas not only of the water but also of the entire city. It’s fun to sit at one of the high tops (with a drink, perhaps?) to feel even more on top of the world, known as Fort Lauderdale.

casa ship2.jpg

Still, there are times when the wife is lured to the reading corner in the living room, an area Shuster created especially for her. (It was part of her wish list.) Note how easily accessible it is from the pool area. The placement of a comfortable armchair with ottoman, both in a beige and white stripe, visually separates the corner from the rest of the living room by its fabric and shape and yet, it’s a part of the whole, too, principally because of the subtle beige and white striped curtains behind the chair. And throughout the room. It’s these details that give Shuster his MO. 

casa ship3.jpgIt’s also him making the best use of limited space, based on his client’s lifestyle. Another case in point: The garage here is also a gym, with a rubberized floor and even a small refrigerator to keep water bottles cold. 

casa ship6.jpgWhen this home was completed, the first thing that caught a visitor’s eye was the water feature to the left of the front door, an imposing waterfall with a vibrant turquoise background. Now there’s something else that serves as an added indication that this is, indeed, a special place: a bronze plaque at the front gate given by the City of Fort Lauderdale. It reads: “In recognition of outstanding achievement for urban design.”