Real-Life Luxury

April 2013
Written By: 
Ashley Burkholder
Photographs by: 
Christopher Shane

The Godwins combine the sleek and modern with comfort and tradition



Five-year-old Sabrina rolls across the polished ivory travertine tiles in the Godwins’ grand sitting room on her pink scooter. Wearing flannel pajamas and a big smile, she narrowly misses the corner of the kitchen counter, gleaming in the same ivory.

That’s the beautiful symmetry you’ll find in this Bal Harbor home: life and luxury, unscripted. And that’s exactly what Shawn Godwin had in mind when planning what he calls his “forever home.”

As owner and president of Palmetto Corp Custom Homes, Godwin knew specifically what he wanted, designing every detail of his 25,000-square-foot home.

He started with location. Although he loved the Grande Dunes area on the west side of the waterway, he hated the time it took to drive from the guard gate, over the bridge and to some of the lots on the far end of the development—and then back to the bypass.

“The favorite thing, for me, is the location of my home on the east side of the waterway,” says Godwin. “It doesn’t take as long to get home; it’s private, but still so close—and access is a big deal when you have a family.”

Godwin broke ground on his 1 ½-acre waterfront lot and moved into the house in 2008, when Sabrina was just a baby. Godwin and his wife, Nikki, have since welcomed a second daughter, Simone, now 3, to the family.

To say these young parents have an active lifestyle is an understatement. The statement is as loud and clear as the indoor gymnasium that fronts the house when you pull into the circular drive.

“I host a training every morning at 5:30 a.m. with a big group of people in our workout room,” Godwin says. “For me, that’s just part of my lifestyle.”

And that’s possible when you have the kind of space the Godwins do. Their workout room rivals those in area resorts and is housed in the same building as the basketball court, raquetball court and steam room, plus two guest rooms.

Continue driving past the gym and park in front of one of the six garage doors flanking the double front door of the home sweet home.

The exterior of the home was required to stick to the Grande Dunes Mediterranean architectural code, but the interior design screams of the couple’s marriage of styles: modern and comfortable. “Modern, but not too much,” as Godwin puts it.

Nikki’s mother, an interior designer, was up for the challenge of fusing crisp and clean with comfortable vintage elegance. Her touches can be found throughout the home, like in the foyer, which features a ceiling that stretches sky-high amidst windows and white walls and drips with a dazzling chandelier.

White, or a complementary ivory, reigns throughout—from floor to ceiling to moulding and underpinning. It’s streamlined and sterile, but softened with Oriental rugs woven with punches of color. Vintage French posters mingle on the walls with the large mounted flat-screen in the sitting room, where more white-upholstered sofas sit alongside seafoam chairs. No curtains or drapes clutter the windows.

A downstairs study is the only source of the dark side, with brown leather couches, built-in walnut shelves and walls that purr together, along with a sexy leopard area rug underfoot.

“We definitely didn’t want too much hardwood, because that just feels too heavy,” says Godwin. “We like light and light colors, and then wanted to create colors through the individual rooms. The study, though, we wanted somewhat beefier.”

Another colorful room is the dining room that resembles a lovely Tiffany box filled with traditional 19th century treasures—from furnishings to oil paintings and a centerpiece chandelier.

The staircase is like a modern work of art, curving and fluid, lined with glass walls and a sleek white railing that arches up to the second floor, where the girls sleep and play. Each bedroom is accessorized with a full bath and, every girl’s dream, a large walk-in closet. The pretty-in-purple-and-pink playroom is complete with its own stage and karaoke sound equipment, where the girls and friends perform some of the most entertaining shows.

But that’s not the only “play area” upstairs. There’s a plush tiered theatre room that seats 12 in the coziest leather recliners. Exit right, and there’s a game room for entertaining, with a full bar, pool table, poker table and foosball. A classy joint—from tray ceiling and contemporary lighting to mahogany appointments.

Additional entertaining takes place on the second floor patio off the game room and on the beautiful back patio downstairs, which leads to a gorgeous pool and a lush backyard.

Rooms are large (the master bedroom alone is 1,500-square-feet), ceilings are high and layouts are smart. Take, for instance, Godwin’s insistence on giant closets, like the one he shares with his wife, lined with all the drawers they need for their wardrobe rather than having chests and dressers cluttering the floor plan. Right behind the closet is a laundry room, providing for a streamlined washing/drying/folding/hanging system.

It’s this same theme that echoes throughout the Godwin home: accommodating real living while exposing the silver lining of luxury.