With each turn in this Venetian Islands home in Miami Beach, views of tropical greenery, ocean and blue sky change as they would with the twist of a kaleidoscope. Here, the lens comes in the form of oversize windows and sliders and ribbons of glass that frame the beautiful natural setting.
Credit for the home goes to designer Luciana Fragali and builder Luis Bosch. Their assignment to create a comfortable home for a Brazilian couple and their three young sons was a breeze, so to speak, thanks to a lot of group think that included the homeowners. In just one year, the original 1950s home that once stood here was gone, with only a small portion of the structure left, and that, too, was modified.
Bosch came on board first, and soon afterward the couple began their search for a designer. The owners were introduced to Fragali through friends, and from there the design took off. “There are amazing beach homes in Brazil, and they wanted to have a home here that would recall that—a house that would be both contemporary and cozy and not pretentious,” Fragali says. It needed, she adds, to be a place their kids could play with their friends without worry, yet be just as appropriate for entertaining.
Ironically, Bosch had remodeled this very home for the previous owners. “I do a lot of work in Miami Beach and have a lot of signs on my projects. The couple saw one of them, went online and called me. They were surprised to know I had worked on this home before,” he explains. At first, the owners only wanted to remodel the bathrooms and incorporate some millwork. “Then they got more and more excited about the home and just decided to do more and more,” Bosch says. “We ended up demolishing 50 percent of the home, and for the remaining 50 percent we removed the tie beams, left the walls and then raised them so we could install taller sliding glass doors to take in the views.”
Although the remodel was dramatic, it was carefully thought-out. “The owners decided, before anything was done, to move into the house for a month and identify their needs,” Fragali says. “From there, they pinpointed what they liked and what changes they wanted to make.” Various floor plans came from Bosch and Fragali, who also has a background in architecture. After several meetings with the clients, all worked together to lay out the final plan, with Tony Leon of 3Design serving as architect of record. From the start, the owners, particularly the wife, were part of the team. “She went to the site every day and purchased the specified materials,” Fragali says. “This was the smoothest project I’ve worked on. Whenever there was an issue, we sat down together and solved it.”
New rooms include the maid’s quarters, a playroom and a cabana bath on the lower level, a family room, five bedrooms, a powder room and six bathrooms; plus, the swimming pool was transformed into an infinity pool with multihued translucent blue tiles now carpeting the bottom and sides. For furnishings, Fragali focused on durable materials in a neutral color palette. She chose a mocha cream limestone flooring with oversize tiles for many of the first-floor rooms, white oak for the bedroom floors and porcelain tiles for the bathrooms. The idea was to create cozy spaces via furnishing layouts and introduce color and patterns in pillows, art and decorative accessories. Fragali also custom-designed built-ins including the dining room buffet, family room television wall and a dramatic stone wall niche behind the family room sofa. “There are hidden LEDs on top of the niche,” she says. “So at night, when the lights are on, it washes over the stone and illuminates it.”
In the kitchen, sleek new cabinetry gives off an ultracontemporary vibe; to complement and add visual interest, Fragali opted for a marble backsplash and quartz countertops. Texture comes in the form of wallcoverings in the master bedroom and bathrooms. During construction, Fragali and the team found some newspapers from the 1950s with advertisements from the old Burdines department store, a former staple of Florida founded in the 1800s. With input from the owners, Fragali took these reminders of Miami’s history, framed them and hung them in the dramatic glass-walled powder room. Throughout, light-painted walls allow the colors from outside to remain the focus.
With the expansion of the house and in consideration of the couple’s desire to entertain, Fragali created new spaces for lounging outside, as well. Just as she had done inside, seating clusters define areas and new views. And with all the new construction, an opportunity was presented to Fragali and Bosch to redesign and replant the 15,000-square-foot lot with the help of Pacific Beach’s Nick Dietel and the homeowners. New plantings, including many clusia hedges and palm trees, came to color and sequin the landscape. In the end, this family home became a light-filled, easy-to-live-in space that lives up to those dreamy kaleidoscopic views.