The comfort zone

Margarita Courtney and her daughter Cristina love to change the look of their homes and offices with the seasons. Happily, their line of work makes such transitions easy: Decorators known for their airy, tropical style, they run Margaux Interiors, a South Miami boutique brimming with everything from lamps to lounge chairs, along with their own line of bespoke furniture and accessories.

Margarita, who grew up in Puerto Rico, set up shop here 25 years ago. “I wanted to offer beautiful pieces that no one else had,” she says. Spotting her knack for pulling spaces together, customers begged her to work her magic in their own homes, and a design career was born. While mom was building the store, daughter Cristina spent several years in Manhattan—sponging up design knowledge through stints at Bergdorf Goodman and ABC Carpet and Home. In 2000, she moved back to Miami to work alongside her mother.

Now, the two travel often to Paris, India and Thailand to collect new treasures. Style-wise, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Together, mother and daughter have perfected a trademark look that’s gracious yet comfortable, perfectly suited to Miami, and flexible enough to adapt to a wide range of clients.

The common denominators: a color-light backdrop—usually in soothing yet upbeat shades that allude to the tropical environment—and sofas and chairs upholstered in light, neutral linens. From there, they punctuate the subtle palette with accessories and art, and amp up the warmth with bright pillows and curtains, often custom-made from their in-house line of fabrics and trims. “We use lots of soft whites, blues and aquas, with a splash of orange or coral to keep it interesting,” says Margarita. Every space they design is also apt to include books, white orchids or hydrangeas and a scented candle. “We try to create a whole sensory experience, and that goes for our store, too,” says Cristina. “We’re always playing nice music, so it’s like an oasis when you come in.” (Equally friendly: a range of coveted design lines sold at 40 percent off retail. The showroom has a website but trust us: It’s worth a pilgrimage.)

At the moment, the design duo is most excited about oversize dominos made of bone that they just scored from China. Perched on a coffee table in their showroom, they have a down-to-earth grace. “Kids love to play with them, and they’re indestructible,” Cristina adds. “Our goal is for people to feel good in their homes. We don’t want things to be too precious.” Margaux Interiors, 5805 Sunset Drive, South Miami; 305-662-2663;

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