Fireworks Over Miami

When A Cuban-Born Designer And A Homeowner From Puerto Rico Came Together, Fireworks Occurred. The Result: A Kaleidoscopic Sophistication On Biscayne Bay
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Elegant yet contemporary, warm yet different, great for entertaining, but with space to work and a place for family … when owner Yoly Davis conveyed these requests for her new Key Biscayne home, lesser designers might have thrown up their hands. But interior designer Ivette Planas knew her client. In fact, they had worked together on several of the Davis' homes, which include residences in New York, Aspen, Miami and Puerto Rico, and Planas just knew this one would be a collaboration of peers. "Some clients may just take my word about a fabric or color," she says. "But Yoly really loves to sit in a chair; to feel its texture; to know that there is comfort in the total surrounding. It is so rewarding working together in this way."

"I love the process of selecting fabrics, furnishings and decorations," owner Yoly Davis says. "I'm looking for fabrics that are soft and elegant, and for a look that hasn't been done before."

But certain things had to be undone before the contemporary sophistication Davis was seeking could come to life. "The two-story penthouse had been very rococo before," Planas says, citing the 9,790-square-foot home's original wide-plank walnut flooring with basket-weave parquet, Old World Italian glass chandeliers and treble molding. They all spoke of another century yet Planas kept them, incorporating their older hauteur into an undercurrent of elegance beneath a contemporary edge.

"I'm learning every day what is evolving in the design world," says Planas, who doesn't follow trends — she pays attention to them."

Starting at the entry, Planas designed and placed a sculptural console constructed from bronzed Colombian wood. The entry's neutral palette turns in stark contrast as one steps through arched, multi-mullioned doors and into the living room, where an extravagant view of the Atlantic Ocean creates a stunning backdrop for splashes of color.

"We chose neutral hues of oatmeal and beige for the background to highlight the brilliant orange-velvet chairs and pillows, and the oranges, reds and yellows of the artwork," Davis says. Vibrant reflections bounce from twin mirrored cocktail tables and crystal accessories. And yes, Davis did sit in every chair to make sure it was perfect. "I am a very visual and tactile person," she says. "I like to walk into a room and immediately fall in love with it. The fabrics have to be soft and comfortable; the space needs to bring a sense of harmony."

In the breakfast area, the glass top of Ensemble Collection's stainless steel table picks up the colors from Robert Robinson's Niagara.

Another requisite for the owner was a place to display the couple's growing collection of contemporary art developed with the assistance of Rosenbaum Contemporary. And nowhere do design and art meld better than in the dining room. Knowing that a painting, Fred Mitchell's Espousal, was on its way, Planas chose non-competing furnishings to accompany it. In thick starlight glass, the tabletop appears like a reflecting pool for the piece that dominates one whole wall. Classic elegance turns to stylish practicality in the family room, where Planas designed a caramel-colored leather sofa for comfortable seating. Pure white breakfast chairs set around a glass and stainless steel table, along with the owners' white-leather barstools, seem refreshing in a space filled with warm oranges and comforting beige. The sparse selection of accessories was very important to Davis. "I wanted them to be complementary to the space, but not clutter it," she says.

Davis says color defines the personality of a home. In her New York apartment, silvers, grays and shiny nickel tones strike a fast-paced metropolitan tone. In Aspen, blonde woods, the lush greens of the outdoors, and the rusts and browns of a fall day seem right for the setting. But in South Florida, there's something else in the air — the sea breeze from the aqua waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Interior Design
Ivette Planas, Ivette Arango Interior Design, Miami, FL

Barry Grossman, Weston, FL

Text by
Marina Brown