For interior designer Bea Pila, whose philosophy centers on creating spaces that align with her clients’ lifestyles and inspire use, joining forces with a couple who wanted to build a family-friendly house for entertaining was a dream job. “It was a very fun collaboration,” she says. “The owners envisioned a usable, relaxed home with an emphasis on outdoor spaces. They wanted to enjoy every single room, and that’s the way it should be.”
Clients Amparo and Octavio Bravo came across Pila’s work at an open house, and when they met in person, the chemistry was instant. “I love her style, and she really listens,” says Amparo. “Bea is all about making sure the project is more about you than her.” Both remarried with college-age children, the Bravos needed a home that would accommodate their newly combined households and allow them to easily entertain extended family and friends. When they couldn’t find what they were looking for, they decided to build their desired home on a verdant lot they discovered in the exclusive Ponce Davis neighborhood of Miami.
“The owners requested a Mediterranean-inspired house without arches or ornamentation,” recalls architect Antonio E. Rodriguez, who devised the plan carried out by builder Jose Garcia. “The lot was narrow, but it lent itself to their vision: a clean and classic two-story, villa-style structure. The result is an elegant and timeless house that looks like it could have been built 200 years ago.”
A simple yet stately entry leads to a gallery lined with French doors that open to a covered terrace; when weather permits, the doors are left open, connecting the interiors to the lush outdoor spaces, practically doubling the living space. The public rooms on the first floor and the private quarters upstairs overlook an alfresco oasis, complete with a gazebo, outdoor kitchen, separate dining and seating areas, and a pool, all nestled within a landscape designed by Rossembel Gonzalez.
Inside and out, Pila worked with the transitional style and neutral palette preferred by the Bravos: shades of blue and green enliven the white walls and echo the tropical surroundings, while dark-stained interior doors and Brazilian wood floors balance the light envelope and provide richness and warmth. A thoughtful blend of textures, matte finishes, linens and other forgiving fabrics results in rooms that purposely encourage kicking back and relaxing, with much of the furnishings being obtained through Pila’s Coconut Grove shop, Artistic Lifestyle. “We wanted practical and functional because we want the children to feel as comfortable entertaining their friends as we feel entertaining ours,” says Amparo.
The Bravos’ casual style and love of entertaining were the joint inspiration behind the lounge-like living room, where club chairs convene around a fireplace and an antique-mirror-and-glass-enclosed wine cellar is carved out beneath the stairs. “It would have been so easy for this room to have gone in the direction of ‘look but don’t touch,’ ” says Pila, “but I believe if you give a space an activity, people will come.”
These days, Bravo family activities often take place in the combined kitchen, breakfast and family room area, where a classic white kitchen mingles with Mediterranean details: dark wood doors and kitchen island, as well as vibrant blue tile inset in the Crema Marfil marble floor to mimic an area rug (the same tile serves as the outdoor barbecue backsplash). To accommodate her clients’ request for no countertop clutter, Pila designed a wall of built-in kitchen storage, which wraps into the family room to include a floor-to-ceiling wine refrigerator. French doors lead directly to the outdoor kitchen and bar, where the interior color palette, furnishings and finishes continue, creating seamless transitions from inside to outside.
The combination of soft whites, dark woods and shades of blue continues upstairs, where the master bedroom spans the entire space above the kitchen and family room. The Bravos originally planned for even larger sleeping quarters, but at Pila’s suggestion, they reduced the size in order to make room for a separate morning kitchen, built-in storage and a dressing area; a foyer leads to a pair of closets and master bathroom. A custom wood-framed headboard extends almost 10 feet high, drawing the eye up to the sky blue ceiling and glamorous glass chandelier. Tone-on-tone patterned wallpaper adds subtle texture, while a silk patchwork rug offers color and softness underfoot. Another outdoor terrace overlooks the leafy backyard, and it’s Amparo’s favorite spot in the house. “Even on the second floor, the outside feels like our own little piece of paradise,” she says. “When my husband and
I are outside, the kids will come home, sit down, talk and stay. It becomes special family time without us even trying.”
And effortless entertaining is exactly what Pila intended. “When I visit, I see all the spaces I created being used and enjoyed in the way I envisioned,” she says. “I can’t tell you how fulfilling and satisfying that is. You know you’ve done something right when people don’t want to leave.”
— Terri Sapienza