A 1920s Mediterranean Revival-Style Venetian Islands Home


Transitional White Bathroom with Quatrefoil Mosaic Flooring

Spare and neutral, the master bath is distinguished by its custom quatrefoil mosaic flooring from Waterworks, selected by Brown and Davis. An antique stone trough filled with moss, from Michael Dawkins home, adds a touch of greenery. The vanity was fabricated by James Cello.

Transitional Neutral Bedroom with Barrel Vaulted Ceiling

In the comfortable master bedroom, Brown and Davis designed the curved headboard and bedside tables, and specified the Phillip Jeffries wallcovering from Holly Hunt. Round mirrors with leather straps are mounted on the wall with stainless-steel pegs; their spherical shape reflects the owners’ crystal-and-iron chandelier from ABC Carpet & Home.

Transitional Gray Family Room with Rock-Shaped Tables

The guesthouse boasts a series of vintage photographs from Michael Dawkins Home. A Merida sisal carpet and a driftwood table organically juxtapose the modernity of river rock-shaped tables and Patricia Urquiola’s bend sofa for B&B Italia, from Luminaire. Brown and Davis customized the Cuban tile flooring in sand hues and shades of gray.

Transitional White Living Room with Chrome Cocktail Table

A detail of the bright, open living room showcases custom cream sofas by Brown and Davis wearing Great Plains fabric from Holly Hunt; their polished chrome legs and banding accents play off of the owners’ lustrous cocktail table from ABC Carpet & Home. The neutral palette allows the architecture to shine.

Transitional White Kitchen with Tile Backsplash

Enlarged and reconfigured, the kitchen features custom cabinetry by Downsview Kitchens and barstools custom-designed by Brown and Davis. Appliances by Sub-Zero, Wolf and Bosch give the historic home modern amenities, as do the two faucets and pot filler by Dornbracht.

Transitional Neutral Guesthouse with Outdoor Sitting Area

Architect Zeb Jarosz designed a new guesthouse whose overhang creates a grotto-like effect and allows for a waterfall with pleasing sounds that muffle traffic on the Venetian Causeway. Casual furnishings include Great Outdoors seating from Holly Hunt. The custom steel table is from Michael Dawkins home; the sliding doors here are from PGT.

Transitional White Dining Room with Vintage Chairs

Alison Berger’s pendants from Holly Hunt hover over a sleek table in the dining room. Vintage Verner Panton chairs and a Dabbieri Collection rug from Michael Dawkins Home add sophisticated fun, along with a painting by Pierre Bedard. Brown and Davis custom-designed the sheers.

Transitional Coffee Table Detail with Striped Tray

The living room concrete-topped coffee table is decorated with a vintage striped tray and potted plants.

Transitional Cream Stairway with Tile Detail

A sculpture from Mantiques Modern in New York decorates the cream stairway, which sports Moorish-inspired tiles from Exquisite Surfaces.

Contemporary Brown Hall Detail with Vintage Painting

The owner's art collection also includes a vintage diver painting shown above a granite topped console table.

Contemporary White Sitting Area with Black Suede Chair

The owners’ art collection includes an A. Dale Nally painting behind a Verellen black suede chair.

Transitional Brown Living Room Detail with Lamb Pouf

The lounge offers a variety of lighthearted seating options, including a custom Tibetan lamb pouf, a round tufted Verellen ottoman and a ceramic stool, all from Michael Dawkins Home. A mirror by BoBo Intriguing Objects is centered above the fireplace. Alexander Krivosheiw’s bronze sculpture stands guard to one side.

Transitional Cream Foyer with Cowhide Stools

Custom cowhide stools greet the owners in the foyer, which depicts some of the home’s primary features, such as period curved arches, beamed ceilings and custom-colored Antique Dalle de Bourgogne limestone from Exquisite Surfaces, specified by designers Robert S. Brown and Todd D. Davis. The entry door was crafted by Akouri Metal.

Transitional White Sitting Area with Curved Doors

Curved doors from Hope’s Windows reveal a garden view in a seating area that includes a Lou Pearson sculpture, a Lineground Armchair from Skram Furniture, and chairs from Michael Dawkins home. The owners acquired the coffee table through ABC Carpet & Home; it sits on a custom rug from Saddlemans. Dawkins custom-designed the glass chandelier.

Transitional Cream Exterior with Stucco Facade

“We remained essentially true to the original design by replicating the traditional rough texture of the stucco and the handmade clay barrel tiles on the roof,” Jarosz says. The addition of custom-crafted windows and doors, many of which are gracefully arched, adds to the period effect while being able to withstand hurricane winds.

Architect and builder Zeb Jarosz uses the term sotto voce—an Italian opera term meaning soft voice—to describe his approach to preserving the integrity of a 1920s Mediterranean revival- style home on Miami Beach’s Venetian Islands. “I believe in understated simplicity,” he explains. “As with anything in life, if you have an important message to convey, you should speak softly.”

Before the owners—a family with three small children— purchased the residence, the house had already undergone an interior renovation. But it didn’t meet their needs or suit their lifestyle. “The house had very closed-up rooms, so it was not fully used, and the colors were a mix of dark blues, reds and yellows,” says the wife. “We entertain a lot and have lots of family and visitors around throughout the year. We wanted there to be a calmer, more open feel and flow, and for the house to be more livable.”

As the goal of the project began to grow far beyond a simple redo of the second floor into a more comprehensive renovation and addition, preserving the main structure took on greater significance. “The house was one of the first of the Venetian Islands homes and it emulated the original style of development that was popular in Miami Beach in the 1920s. It was important that we be respectful of the original details,” Jarosz recalls of the renovation—a collaborative effort with designers Robert S. Brown and Todd D. Davis, who were involved with the overall aesthetic and vision for the home.

Jarosz’s experience with historical preservation, which began after he studied architecture in Krakow, Poland, prepared him for the task. “I have a true appreciation for architecture of the past and all its underlying purpose, symbolic elements and technique of construction,” he notes. “In my work I try to translate that past into contemporary reality but still preserve its essence of proportion and scale. Otherwise, it just becomes a caricature.”

The first step was to obtain historical designation, which allowed for more flexibility to preserve various elements of the house and conduct work that ordinarily wouldn’t be allowed under the current code. Structurally, that work involved everything from correcting age-related structural problems to installing new plumbing and electrical components. Aesthetically, it meant a sensitive refreshment of the exterior features and finishes. “We remained essentially true to the original design by replicating the traditional rough texture of the stucco and the handmade clay barrel tiles on the roof,” Jarosz says. The addition of custom-crafted windows and doors, many of which are gracefully arched, adds to the period effect while being able to withstand hurricane winds.

As the interior space was reconfigured, Brown and Davis specified interior architectural details such as the reclaimed antique Dalle de Bourgogne French limestone flooring for the home’s first level and the custom-colored flooring in the newly added guesthouse, and they oversaw the material selections for the kitchen and bathrooms. Select furnishings—such as their custom cream sofas in the living room, and the sleek wood table and sculptural chandelier that they helped the owners procure for the dining room—began to set the tone for the interiors’ aesthetic and complement the architecture.

Subsequently, Michael Dawkins was brought in to round out the interior design program, adding contrast to—yet further complementing—the architecture. “The design team had established a beautiful structure,” says Dawkins. “The house was historic, but the owners were a hip couple. We wanted to infuse a bit of modernism and make it work as a comprehensive whole.”

Room by room, a mood was established. “We considered the indoor-outdoor Florida lifestyle, as well as the need to make things kid-friendly yet elegant,” says Dawkins. “The architecture is so prominent that we wanted to keep the rest as supporting characters.” s-shaped midcentury modern chairs, for instance, lend that mix of fun and sophistication to the dining room—“they add a sense of rhythm and playfulness to the room,” notes Dawkins—as does the grouping of tufted and shag ottomans in the lounge. Throughout, a significant collection of artwork punctuates the transitional nature of the home.

Outdoor living was, of course, a major focus, as well. The architect, along with Brown and Davis early on, spruced up existing gardens, giving them a more formal European feel with box hedges and manicured lawns. At the rear, Jarosz designed that new guest pavilion at the far end of the existing swimming pool; it emulates the architecture of the house but is more modern. “Because of space constraints, the pavilion hangs over the pool and has a grotto effect,” says Jarosz. “You can swim underneath the overhang.”

In the end, the home’s restoration did more than give new life to an important structure; it brought a sense of peace and calm to a growing family with an active lifestyle. “The entire house gets used all the time now, and I do like the juxtaposition of the more transitional interiors,” says the wife. With the house nodding to the past as it celebrates modern-day design, the architect shares the owners’ excitement. Says Jarosz: “we remained relatively true to the original design and updated only certain elements of the exterior but became more free with the interior layouts and details, interior decor and landscaping. It’s the poster child for restored homes in Miami Beach.”