Since Stavros Garger travels around the world for his work as a textile designer, he is anxious to come home to Fort Lauderdale for peace, relaxation and a chance to enjoy the light. “When I arrive, I am struck by the light,” says Garger, a former vice president of home design for Ralph Lauren and now senior design director for Li & Fung in Hong Kong, where he designs his own line of textiles called Destinations by Stavros. “I travel so much without light in the winter that I flooded my interior atrium with light so I can enjoy it at home. Light is very important to me.”
Several years ago, Garger, who is of Greek descent; his husband, Fidel Quintana, who hails from Cuba; and their Havanese, Maya, discovered this 3,000-square-foot, three-level townhouse on a cul-de-sac in a modern Fort Lauderdale building. They were instantly smitten. “We were sick of living in New York, and after coming down to South Florida once a month for quite awhile, we never wanted to leave,” says Garger. “I was seeking health, outdoor living, and a lovely modern home with views of trees and plants.”
When they found the 3-bedroom, 3½-bath townhouse—which Garger describes as “timeless and classic with great proportions”—he wanted to design the interiors, especially the living areas, with smaller pieces to emphasize the size of space. With white walls and honey-colored marble tile floors, Garger worked his magic to transform the space into a home where they could unwind and focus on healthier living.
In many rooms, he was able to utilize their favorite New York furnishings. For the large square living room with 20-foot ceilings and a wall of windows that brings the outside in, Garger created different areas for seating which include the use of Barcelona chairs by Knoll in saddle leather, a Barcelona Mies van der Rohe divan covered with a gray cashmere throw, and a black leather Le Corbusier LC3 sofa by Cassina. “The sofa creates structure in the room,” says Garger. “I like floating furniture on the rug.” A chandelier of blackened iron with crystal rods from Wired Designs hangs over the Giancarlo Rattini-designed glass coffee table for Cassina. The designer likes this area for entertaining, displaying his collection of 1940s Greek vases, and reading and drinking coffee when he is home alone. Moreover, to sit in this living room is to enjoy the vegetation peeking in through the abundance of glass windows. Here Garger can enjoy his beloved light coupled with the stillness of nature.
In the dining space, where the men like to entertain about six friends at a time (Fidel is a talented chef), the sculptural, swirling staircase made of cerused-oak blends beautifully with the marble floor and aluminum railing. “This area had all dark wood finishes so we changed them to oak,” says Garger. “When we open our home for guests, I clean and serve, and Fidel cooks.” They dine on a white marble Ero Saarinen table by Knoll and black calf-hair cushion klismos, an ancient Greek style of chairs framed in olive wood from Saridis of Athens, Greece. The kitchen, which is in the same environment as the dining space, repeats the clean and contemporary vibe with functional appliances and a stylish, white block island with ample counter space which surrounds the sink.
The first-floor terrace garden done in Moroccan tiles is an interior courtyard blooming with flowers and plants. It offers a pop of color from nature against the gray, white and black floor that Garger installed. There is also an outdoor fountain made of galvanized aluminum. This hidden space separates the living and dining areas creating a much appreciated cross breeze.
Garger’s favorite room, however, is on the second floor, with an exposure to the atrium. His television is there, and he finds the space to to be an escape from the hustle and bustle of airports, buyers and shoppers who purchase his sheets, towels, comforters, etc., from a variety of department and specialty stores around the world.
In the master bedroom, part of their third-floor suite, Garger made full use of his home’s neutral color palette with the custom gray viscose area rug and custom dark Fortuny classic bedspread as a juxtaposition to the more contemporary look. Flanking the bed are Hollywood Regency side chests holding white lamps with playful attached balls purchased on West Palm Beach’s Antique Row. Their white sofa from WS Home has a sloped side which gives it a Regency look, and the Platner cocktail table which separates the couch from the bed is placed on a large amethyst geode, part of Garger’s collection which he expands when traveling in Brazil. An antique Biedermeier Secretary and wood armchair covered in gray silk velvet from Italy round out what the designer calls the couple’s “cool” space.
In the guest bedroom, dominated by a Restoration Hardware bed appointed with white and gray linens, art adds color, movement and texture to the walls. Behind the bed is a hand-embroidered Greek textile with a motif of small buildings from Garger’s great grandmother. Another artistic work bursts with yellow circles. It reminds the designer of Florida’s light and the Greek waterfront, and matches the bed’s throw pillow. For more whimsy, Garger delights guests with a displays of objects collected on a bamboo ladder covered in unique throw blankets. “I designed this with wood beads, spiritual offerings, a Navajo belt and metal objects from Brazil, Greece and Afghanistan,” he says.
While lounging with his husband, or chatting with good friends, Garger gets good use from the third floor terrace. Designed with white ceramic tile and lots of sophisticated Crate & Barrel furniture, he calls the space his “own Medina.” It repeats the indoor themes yet is bolder in execution. Outdoor graphic patterns on the chaise lounges and throw pillows add style and design to the neutral exterior environment. “We set up a bar and enjoy everything about the terrace,” he says.
Garger believes their residence, with its twists and turns and engaging courtyard, feels like being on a ship of dreams. “This home is my fantasy about how I want to live when I am on this side of the world.”