A Biscayne Bayside Residence With a Streamlined Palette


When a Miami Beach couple started thinking about a new home, they thought it best to tear down their existing structure on Biscayne Bay and rebuild. But when a more desirable location opened up a block away on a wider lot with west-facing views of the water, that initial strategy was waived and a new plan was instated. The low-slung, rambling home that caught their eye already had great bones and was suitable for an addition as well as a renovation. With interior designer Charlotte Dunagan, architect Edson E. Dailey, Jr., general contractor Greg Milopoulos and landscape architect Michael Sapusek on board, the team revitalized the entire property for the to-be residents, creating enough space for the couple, their grown children and grandchildren.

“We didn’t try to change the style of the house,” Dailey says of the concrete block-and-stucco edifice. “We were pleased with what it looked like and the existing conditions were compatible with a renovation.” Thanks to the width of the lot, the team was able to incorporate a major addition on its south side, adding a new breakfast room, gym and garage on the lower level, and bedrooms upstairs. They also gutted and reconfigured the original structure to create more space. “We removed columns to give it an open feel, which is more common today than it was 20 years ago when the home was originally built,” says Milopoulos.

The old and new sections were unified with limestone flooring through- out, as well as a balcony on the water side that runs the length of the house and connects the master suite to the other bedrooms. Dailey says that careful attention was paid to the windows, rooflines and architectural details, “to make it look like as if they were all imple- mented at one time.”

When it came to the interiors, Dunagan considered the contrasting preferences of the couple: he had been a fan of traditional and ornate styles, while she liked clean and modern. The resulting design scheme called for sleek lines in warm, friendly colors and textures. Dunagan used a consistent palette—woods were either dark or taupe—and added white lacquer for a contrasting accent. In the living area, for example, a pair of Christian Liaigre sofas exhibits this mix with their dark-walnut frames, white-lacquered arms and cushions of comple- mentary fabrics and colors: eggplant and beige. “There are so few pieces in this room,” she says. “They need to have drama.” In the kitchen, again, dark floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, which conceals staff quarters, contrasts with a white lacquer cabinetry at the sink and around the perimeters.

Another one of Dunagan’s tricks was to use materials vertically: The living area features two facing walls paneled in dark wood, while a wall in the master bedroom is covered in suede, alluding to a dramatic headboard. She also treated walls throughout with lime plaster. “It’s not shiny like Venetian plaster, rather, it’s matte and has an earthy feel.” This mono- chromatic look was the perfect backdrop for the homeowners’ extensive collection of artwork. “There’s no fighting with the colors of the art in this house,” Dunagan declares, adding that specialists from Radiance Lighting chose subtle recessed lighting to accentuate the works.

Many of the home’s pocket doors open onto the covered patio, so indoor- outdoor spaces were treated as transitional areas. Recessed wood ceiling inserts in the entry’s canopy, as well as in the balconies, soften the stucco’s hard edges. Sapusek’s landscaping around the refurbished tennis court, pool, new cabana and the expansive motor court make focal points of several sculptures, flanking them with lush palms. Decorative arbors and raised planters help section the lawn into admirable vignettes.

The couple is thrilled with the result—warm enough for him, cool enough for her, and the continuous trade between the two is evident throughout the residence. “It’s still modern,” says Dunagan, “but it has a happy, welcoming feeling.”