A Sunny Isles Condo with Neoclassic Architectural Bones


A residence with neoclassic architectural bones that embraces contemporary furnishings and modern art may seem tricky to create and balance. Yet for this Sunny Isles condominium designed by Nick Luaces, that equilibrium was beautifully achieved, resulting in a seamless blending of classic and contemporary so smooth that the contrast in styles goes unnoticed.

Set on a beachfront property with unobstructed views of the ocean, the condo’s interior design concept takes its cues from nature, predominantly the expanse of water on the other side of the windows. “The inspiration was the sun and the sea,” says Luaces, “the abundance of light and the cool blues of the ocean.” This design muse first manifests itself in the foyer, where beige limestone flooring, and crown moldings and paneled walls painted off-white serve as neutral background to a silver-and-gold-leaf console with an onyx top, recalling the tones of sand and reflections of the water.

Beyond, a light blue faux-crocodile-covered bench sits below two Thierry Feuz multicolored striped contemporary pieces of art. “The key was to have the interior architecture serve as an unobtrusive backdrop that would allow the clean lines of the furniture and bold colors of the artwork to be the focal point,” explains Luaces. “The clients sought something comfortable enough to serve as a family retreat yet sophisticated enough to host friends and parties. The goal was soft elegance and a light ambience.”

In the living room, two pairs of armchairs—one set pale blue, the other tan and cream—reference sea and sand, while a white sofa allows for Poppies—a bold blue contemporary framed silk screen by Donald Sultan—suspended behind it to make a stunning impact. A wall of windows permits light and the views of the ocean to flood in.

By contrast, the walnut flooring and cabinetry in the den, which also serves as a home office, produce a warm and cozy environment. The wood flooring continues into the master bedroom, though here, it shows up as Brazilian cherrywood laid out in a herringbone pattern. Whites and creams accented with silver and gold touches complement each other in the sublimely romantic and ethereal space. The room’s herringbone flooring pattern is repeated in the polished master bath, but this time in honey onyx mosaics that are inset into marble. “We completely took out and replaced the existing bathroom,” says Luaces, who worked with general contractor Wayne Clark on the project. Off-white raised-panel cabinetry and a matching tub front provide a detailed element against the abundant beveled mirrors framed in the same honey onyx seen in the floors.

From room to room, the ceilings unify and add a traditional touch to the more modern spaces. “There is a lot of architectural detail in the ceilings—moldings, soffits, lighting,” notes Luaces. “It serves to bring depth and dimension.”

In the kitchen, a large light cove echoes the shape of a generous granite- topped island; that same granite is replicated in the countertops and backsplash and makes the perfect companion for the sleek yet warm cherrywood cabinetry. Within the kitchen, and overlooking the ocean, is a well-appointed breakfast room where a sycamore X-base table surrounded by four wenge wood-framed chairs creates a casually refined area. The room is completed with a polished-nickel and capiz shell-accented chandelier—a clever nod to the oceanside locale—and a series of Josef Albers works.

The more formal dining room boasts a round dark walnut table centered below a circular soffit, from which hangs a stunning Murano glass fixture. “In this project, we put a lot of thought into lighting—direct, indirect and decorative,” says Luaces. “Chandeliers give interest to the overall interior of the home.” Custom dining chairs in a soft celadon offer a quiet elegance that allows the bright contemporary Michael Wright canvas above an Andre´ Arbus console to govern the room.

“Every residence I work on is customized to the client’s taste, and this one in particular was quite a mix,” notes Luaces. “Seeing the way that the classic interior architectural motifs came together with contemporary furniture and the owner’s modern art collection was the pie`ce de re´sistance.”