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Florida Interior Designers

The Morocco room at Casa Casuarina
The Morocco room at Casa Casuarina (the former Versace house) on South Beach was designed by Katia Bates. [Photo: Robert Brantley]

Katia Bates
Innovative Creations Interior Design - Fort Lauderdale

Katia Bates
[Photo: Craig Denis]
Venetian-born Katia Bates loves to travel and share the benefits with her clients. In addition to the vacations she takes with her husband and partner, Tom Bates, she makes at least two buying trips every year. "In April we go to Milan and in September to the South of France for the antiques shows."

Ironworks: "One of the things we buy a lot of is iron, so we can modify it and make it into things like door handles according to what the client wants."

A touch of glass: Bates designed a chandelier of Murano glass from her hometown; the creation, called "Dilemma," was so popular that she has just designed a second called "Piano Nobile," named after the largest and most decorated floor where hosts entertain in the mansions of Venice.

Cool coincidence: "Several years ago, we took a trip to Morocco and bought a lot of opium beds and carpets and antiques. We put them in our warehouse, and within a month we were asked to do the interiors of Casa Casuarina, Gianni Versace's old house on South Beach. The new owner wanted a Morocco room, so we had the perfect items right there in storage."

Debbie Sheaf
Debbie Sheaf & Associates Interior Design - Orlando

Debbie Sheaf
[Photo: Christopher Casler]

About 25 years ago, Debbie Sheaf picked up two little cottage-shaped pitchers at a south Florida flea market for $17. It turned out that the two pitchers — which were from 1880s England — were worth $595. And that was back in the '80s. "Then it became all about the hunt," she says. "That's when I started collecting Majolica," a kind of European tin-glazed earthenware characterized by bold hues, such as turquoise, orange and yellow. Sheaf gravitates toward English Majolica, which she says is the most colorful and features the most interesting patterns. "Majolica has made a comeback of sorts in recent years, so there are a lot of reproductions. But the details are not as clear on those and the glazes not as appropriate. ... Clients who have wanted it have either been in my home or seen it in my portfolio."

Universal appeal: When it comes to incorporating Majolica into a client's design, Sheaf says, "I wouldn't necessarily put it on display in an extremely contemporary space, but I don't mind mixing the old with the new. That's what makes it eclectic."

Making a statement: "I painted one wall in my home turquoise, and my Majolica just pops against it. I made one client paint a wall hot pink. Her husband may not like me for it, but she did."

Marsha Faulkner
Studio M Interior Design - Jacksonville

Marsha Faulkner
Marsha Faulkner designed the artwork on the wall (mixed media, recycled coffee filters on canvas). [Photo: Douglas J. Eng]
Marsha Faulkner
At 18, as she backpacked her way across Europe, Marsha Faulkner decided that paintings by local artists would be her souvenirs. "I've collected as long as I can remember," she says. "Plus, I had limited space, and it was easy to roll them up and stick them in my backpack."

Faulkner has a penchant for oils and acrylics on canvas, although lately she has gotten into charcoal drawings. She picks them up at local art festivals and gallery showings open to the public. "I hang them throughout the office, rotating them frequently, and if a piece fits someone's project, I sell it," she says. "We just sold out our lobby area."

Hitting the spot: "I've had a lot of requests for assistance in placing art pieces," Faulkner says. "It's the icing on the cake for me. Depending on the project, a canvas or sculpture can serve as the focal point of the entire space."

Favorite places for finds: "I'm always successful in Paris, and Florence is fantastic. And London has fabulous antiques. I even like to shoot up to Savannah, Ga. — SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) is right there, and it infiltrates the city."

Sound advice: "I encourage my clients to explore art on their own, especially when they travel. It's always a memory when you hang a piece you find on a trip, and it always sparks a conversation."