Beckoned By The Ocean

The Transition From Mountainside To Beachfront Is Made Easier With Lightened Tones, Transparent Materials And A Laid-Back Attitude Suited To Life At Sea Level
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Rising up above South Florida's Key Biscayne, this two-story, 3,500-square-foot penthouse in the luxurious Ocean Club community provides the optimal vantage point to soak up the spoils of a tropical paradise. Still, for one Colombian family accustomed to a life nestled high in the Andes, coming here is, to a certain extent, coming down to earth.

Frequent travelers to the Miami area, the homeowners were drawn to this well-appointed yet easygoing vacation retreat and its less-formal, less-hurried way of life than the couple, along with their two teenage boys and 3-year-old daughter, experience back home in Bogotá. Working within a tight time frame, architect, designer and general contractor Myriam Rojas handled all of the interiors and minor construction on the project. After visiting with the owners in Colombia to observe their tastes and lifestyle, Rojas pulled it all together in a mere four months — instilling a resort-like feel with light hues, translucent materials and the occasional infusion of ocean-inspired elements. Organic materials and rustic touches lend warmth, while bursts of color add a dash of surprise.

Promptly removing a more ornate wrought iron and gold stair rail in the foyer, Rojas replaced it with clear glass and stainless steel posts, which dramatically lightened up the space. Using the pinkish cast of the existing marble floors as a springboard, she then chose a salmon and silver hand-woven sisal area rug that the owners had custom made in Bogotá.

The foyer flows into the living room, where Rojas, so as not to block the ocean view, cleverly arranged the pieces of a chenille sofa around four low tables configured to create a cocktail table. A black-leather Eames chair, perched atop a brick-patterned cowhide area rug from Artefacto, provides additional seating.

The seamless blend of transitional and contemporary that styles the home is perhaps best illustrated in the dining room, where an ultra-modern, three-piece hanging sideboard, created in orange matte lacquer by Claudio Lovadino for Moco, sits beneath a rustic, knotted-pine mirror from Sharron Lewis Design Central. In an unexpected contrast to the rough edges of a table made from Thai chamcha wood, a twinkling crystal and pewter Schonbek chandelier imparts unabashed elegance and grandeur. Another nearby dining space, the breakfast area, is decidedly less formal, with a partial enclosure by way of a fixed custom panel of organic textured paper framed in walnut helping to make the shift. In order to perpetuate the relaxed attitude of the home, Rojas avoided any jarring color changes from room to room. "It is a very open layout, so the colors had to flow," she says. The orange and turquoise seen elsewhere reappear in the den, where custom lacquer cabinets, and the owners' own shag pillows and kilim area rug pull from the palette. The charcoal-suede sofa from American Leather is just the right place to curl up and kick back.

Perhaps the biggest undertaking was the second-floor media room, where Rojas succeeded in enclosing a once-open space by adding walls and glass doors while still managing to preserve the airy, outdoor feel. Both the white-vinyl sofas and non-slip porcelain, faux bois-planked floors are casual and provide for easy maintenance. Accent pillows in peppy orange and pale blue add hints of both sun and sky. One can come inside from basking in the rays or soaking in the Jacuzzi, and unwind without a care. For the owners, the message is clear: when we're here, we're on vacation.

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Interior Architecture and Design
Myriam Rojas, M.Z. Design, Inc., Key Biscayne, FL

Daniel Newcomb, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Text by
Robin Hodes