Relaxed And Tropical

One Noted Architect And Interior Designer Tear Down Barriers Between The Inside And Out To Create A Miami Beach Vacation Home That Blends Classic Warmth With Cool Modernism

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After their very first meeting with architect Ralph Choeff to discuss the design of their Venetian Islands getaway in Miami Beach, Fla., one busy couple, that resides primarily in the Northeast, felt confident that he could deliver what they wanted. Situated on a modest waterfront property, the existing small outdated home was demolished in order to make way for the new, 6,200-square-foot residence that was designed to connect with nature's landscape. "You enter through an open court where slabs of rock are surrounded by water in a reflecting pool … as you approach, the house feels like it's floating," Choeff says.

The main goal for the home was to artfully mesh the couple's desire for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle with the architect's signature "tropical modern" approach that blends relaxed indoor spaces with the unique beauty of the South Florida outdoors. "Since they live in the Northeast most of the year, an open plan for indoor-outdoor entertaining was a priority," the architect says.

Family-friendly interiors were a must with two young children in the house. Choeff suggested interior designer Charlotte Dunagan, whom he frequently partners with, to streamline the interior and exterior spaces. "Since the husband likes cool modern furnishings and the wife leans toward warmer transitional elements, we worked with materials and finishes that would blend both points of view," Dunagan says. With characteristic attention to detail the designer deployed a mix of easy care fabrics, tactile materials and custom touches.

A large patio area, designed for alfresco entertaining, is outfitted with a summer kitchen, a relaxed bar area and chaise lounges from Royal Botania. A silver marble clad wall in the outdoor kitchen and limestone flooring that borders a shallow lounging pool echoes elements found indoors. "I'm big on carrying materials from inside to the outside to prevent minimal modern spaces from feeling chopped up," Dunagan says.

Once inside, the open living and dining spaces flow effortlessly from one room to the next. In the living area, an expanse of off-white limestone flooring leads to a custom cantilevered stairway. Designed by Dunagan, it bisects the living, and dining areas and a custom-designed kitchen fabricated by Bon Vivant that features a walnut-wood island and sleek cabinetry.

The spectacular master bath can be found on the second floor. An indoor-outdoor tour de force, it features matching walnut vanities that appear to float above Marron Jupiter marble flooring. Sliding glass doors open wide onto a private terrace that offers spectacular views of Biscayne Bay. The owners start and end each day with a refreshing and dramatic taste of the great outdoors.

Together, Choeff and Dunagan created exactly what the couple was looking for in this relaxed family retreat that thoroughly embraces an indoor-outdoor South Florida lifestyle.

Interior Design
Charlotte Dunagan, Charlotte Dunagan Design Group, Coral Gables, FL

Mark Surloff, North Miami, FL

Ralph Choeff, Choeff Levy Fischman Architecture + Design, Miami, FL

Bart Reines, Bart Reines Construction, Inc., Miami Beach, FL

Text by
Jean Nayar