From ’80S Glam To Beachfront Chic


In just mere months, this oceanfront condo in South Beach once owned by Madonna was transformed from an outdated 1980s beach house into an exuberant modern retreat

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When the design team of architect Paul Fischman and interior designer Michael Wolk first saw this two-story oceanfront condominium in Miami’s vibrant neighborhood of South Beach, they were taken by its spectacular setting and close proximity to the beach and ocean. But with one look inside at its pink-colored breakfast room, mustard-hued drapes, turquoise walls and gold-papered ceilings, the team knew they had some updating to do. At first the project was only a kitchen makeover,” but it was one of those projects that just grew and grew as we looked at each room,” Fischman says.

To complicate matters, this 3,280-square-foot condominium was located in a building that allowed construction only during the off-season. Because timing was limited to just three months, the architect worked with the home’s previous decor whenever possible. He painted the underside of the floating glass stairway white and the railings silver, and to modernize the tall, curved-glass aquarium, he added a lacquered display box on top. At the foot of the stairs, the architect designed a wine shelving display with an illuminated Avonite backdrop, a solid surface material fashioned in a marbleized mixture of turquoise and swirled with a combination of light and dark blue hues. “At night when it’s backlit, it’s just breathtaking,” he says.

Drawing on Fischman’s modern inclination, Wolk filled the home with what he describes as “Neomodern” furnishings as well as some iconic pieces. “These pieces are based on exuberant American modern design married with the traditions of European classics,” the designer says.

In the main living and dining spaces, a neutral palette of white and sandy hues are enhanced by the colors of the sea and sky. The beach, on view from a towering 20-foot-high window, also sets the tone for the designer’s selection of comfortable furnishings. “It’s not a very formal space so I arranged it casually with a lot of seating areas to converse and dine,” Wolk says. In the dining area, classic Thonet wicker chairs line a long marble table. Steps into the den, a pair of armchairs from David Edward and a sculptural bench from Holly Hunt are bathed in brilliant light.

Once boxy and enclosed, Fischman designed a kitchen that flows easily into the other living spaces. Now transformed, it features clean-lined cabinetry centered by an island and a breakfast bar, each topped with statuary marble counters.

Upstairs in the serene master bedroom, Michael Wolk’s custom-paneled, ebony-stained bed dressed in crisp white linens feels like floating on a cloud. Nearby, a sculptural leather armchair with matching ottoman is in perfect position to view the ocean through sliding glass doors that lead to a balcony. Views abound from every angle with the architect’s placement of a large interior window in the master bedroom that looks out onto the living and dining areas, and a smaller one in the hallway that offers a glimpse into the master bedroom.

Just off the upstairs hallway, a small bedroom was reimagined as the owner’s office. The focal point of the room is an iconic, Cavour writing desk. It was one of few pieces that Wolk and his client deemed worthy of waiting for its arrival.

Despite the deadline, Fischman, whose firm is acclaimed for its tropical modern architecture, and Wolk, recognized for his modern aesthetic, succeeded in creating an airy beach retreat that captures stunning oceanfront views at every turn.

Interior Design
Michael Wolk With Darlene Bottel, Michael Wolk Design Associates, Miami, FL

Photography
Troy Campbell, Miami, FL

Architecture
Paul Fischman, Choeff Levy Fischman, Miami, FL

Builder
Robert Arkin, Arkin Construction, Inc., Miami Beach, FL

Text by
Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley