7 Artisans Turning Design Dreams Into Reality


silver leaf walls nicole fuller

A boudoir by Nicole Fuller for The Galerie House of Art + Design in 2021 with silver leaf treatment by Caroline Lizarraga. (Photo: Genevieve Garruppo)

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s famous dictum, “God is in the details,” is one we happen to agree with at Luxe. We could fill a small library with the exquisite custom creations we’ve had the pleasure of publishing over the years. Allow us to start here—by plucking fantastic spaces from our archives and hearing from the craftspeople behind their defining features.

papered walls drew mcgukin


Bringing A Bold Stroke To Interiors

Caroline Lizarraga, Caroline Lizarraga Design

Top line: I am a decorative artist specializing in bringing one-of-a-kind fine art to people’s walls in their homes and commercial spaces. Origin story: It all started in fashion as I went to school for fashion design. Then I started buying furniture at garage sales and flea markets. The first piece I purchased for $20, I fixed it up and gold-leafed it, which was interesting at the time as today it’s what I mostly do every day. I painted that piece with pink flowers on it. A designer saw it and offered me $1,200 for it (I was 18 then). It started me on the path of studying furniture restoration in Italy and then European decorative arts back in the US, and finally apprenticing for several years as a decorative artist; I went on my own over 20 years ago. Wall power: I love that walls are the bulk of any space, which permanently changes the room and can change in a few short hours. It can be a magical experience for people with short attention spans. Constant muse: I am constantly referencing Rothko, Cy Twombly, Monet’s fluidity, and of course, all the incredible makers, artists, and designers creating and adding so much revelation to my world.

blue dining room with stencilwork


Stencil Work That Masters The Art of Illusion

Amelia Rossi, Amelia Rossi LLC

Custom fix: Clients often come to me for stencil work. Other times, they want a painted scene on grass-cloth, or maybe they can’t find the perfect color or wallpaper. That’s where I come in. Arts evolution: While painting cabinets for a construction company in Palm Beach, I was exposed to murals, gilding and other decorative painting techniques. On one project, I remember walking through the living room and seeing artisans painting the walls like an Arabian tent. There were folds in the corners, drapings and tassels—all Trompe-L’oeil. I was amazed! That was the moment I decided to step it up. Constant muse: The Viszcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami. Each room has layers of hand-crafted details. My dream project would be working with a team to restore that building. On view: This dining room designed by Caroline Rafferty was a favorite project. The floor’s colors, sheen and tessellated pattern were a stunning design choice.

tree mural detail decorative painting


All In the Mix With Decorative Painting

Patricia Arnillas, Contraposto Art Studio

Tricks of the trade: I studied Fine Arts in Lima, Peru, where I was born. Incidentally, most of my professors were from Italy, Austria and Germany, and I learned 15th-centumry techniques, such as creating tempera using natural pigments mixed with egg yolk. This training proved useful when I moved to New York City in the 1980s and discovered decorative painting. Secret sauce: I have become renown among my clients for creating murals on fabric and burlap to which I apply my own concoction of pliable plaster in layers. This technique strikes the viewer as mildly rustic and organic, yet contemporary. On view: This mural was inspired by the vegetation surrounding a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut, by designer Erik R. Smith and architect Eric J. Smith. The homeowner wanted to bring the forest into her dining room, so I spent time on the property observing, taking photos and drafting the landscape. 

metal curved stair by custom iron staircase


A Custom Railing Built to Last

Charles Calhoun, Calhoun Design & Metalworks

Mission statement: We are a metal fabricating company specializing in high-end architectural work. We create everything from doors and windows, railings and gates to furniture, range hoods and specialty items. Origin story: I went to college for theater design. Part of my studies included set design, metalwork and scenic construction. After graduating, I moved to Atlanta to work in the film industry and started making furniture for friends on the side. My business basically grew out of a garage with no employees 27 years ago and into the organization we have now. On view: This railing is part of a project on Sea Island, Georgia, with Thad Truett and Suzanne Kasler. We worked with Thad to develop the design to follow the flowing structure of the compound curving staircase. We spend a number of days hand forming the cap rail to the architecture on site, then returning to the shop to work out details and put the final parts together.

wood paneled wall showcases craftsmanship


Oak-Paneled Walls That Go Against the Grain

John Marshall III, Marshall Millwork

In-house specialties: Custom doors, windows, moldings, shutters, gates, light posts, stairs, paneling, and any other type of architectural millwork. Family affair: My great grandfather started this company in a small town in Mississippi, but a mass fire destroyed everything. He packed up his family, and what little they had left, onto a horse and wagon and moved operations to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1918, to start over. We’ve been here honing this craft ever since. Day in the life: We never know what’s coming next, which keeps things exciting. One day we’re making custom wine racks and the next, we’re building 18-foot-tall mahogany shutters. On view: So many amazing wood pieces were fabricated for this project with Phillip Sides, including the living room’s beautiful white oak-paneled walls.

black plaster bathroom


Plaster That Provides A Touch of Hand

Kirby Sinclair, Segreto Finishes

Next generation: My mom, Leslie Sinclair, started Segreto Finishes about 30 years ago, so I grew up surrounded by design. When I was in school, I worked on the different artistry teams within our company to learn more about the various finishes. Before we opened our showrooms, my house was a revolving door of design and experimentation. Top line: We are a decorative arts and architectural finishes company, with a team of design, operations and artistic personnel, who work together to create beautiful surroundings for residential and commercial projects. We install different types of plasters depending on what our clients are looking for aesthetically, and how the plaster will be used. Material love: I’ve become addicted to plaster over the years. I love the organic feeling it provides; even our whitest plasters feel warm and inviting. On view: This image shows a bathroom of black tadelakt plaster, which is an all-natural, water-resistant lime plaster that can hold darker pigments. We loved collaborating with general contractor DJ Palmore and designer Ashton Taylor on this project. Talk about two inspiring people! 

custom gilt mural bar


All That Glitters With Murals That Impress

John Opella, Minium Decorative Arts & Design

Sweet spot: Murals incorporating gold, plaster and lacquer on wall surfaces, furniture and glass. Road map: I’ve studied fine art, architecture and interiors over the years. First, working for artists and later, working at design studios. My craft combines these experiences, from collaborating with designers at the early stages of a project to executing them on-site or in-studio. Inspired by: 20th-century design and craft, from The Art Deco of Dunand and Catteau to the modern movement of Le Corbusier and Eileen Grey. On view: This home bar mural was commissioned by designer Marie Flanigan for a client who collects tequilas. It is a moody evening landscape with gilt agave plants. My business has offices in Brooklyn and Portland, but I love getting to work with Marie because she is based in Houston, where I grew up. It’s fun to see how she transforms spaces in new and interesting ways.


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