A Waterfront Miami Condominium with Retro Classics


"The clients wanted a New York-style apartment,” designer Carola Hinojosa says of her Miami project sky high in a waterfront condominium, “a departure from the light, white aesthetic often seen in South Florida.” And so for the couple’s vacation home, Hinojosa leaned toward elegant retro classics with details that add character. The other request from the owners, who love sailing and entertaining, was for the home to have the cozy feel and tight efficiency of their yacht. “It’s a limited space,” says Hinojosa, “but they wanted it all.”

And that she accomplished. Hinojosa worked in a muted, neutral palette in the wife’s preference—she loves grays and silvers—while also incorporating the husband’s one request: red. A custom carpet in the great room, for example, which was sampled five times until the colors were exactly right, boasts a geometric design in many shades of gray, plus dashes of rich aubergine. The oversize carpet unifies the living and family rooms, pulling together the custom gray sofa, a daybed upholstered in red cashmere, and a pair of bronze chairs covered in a graphic black-and-white print. “The grand living room, which incorporates the entire social area, has a very Art Deco influence,” Hinojosa explains. “You can see that the textured rug was designed with stylized geometric forms like other elements in the room.” Metallic pieces—a bronze-and-slate low table, an armchair with a shapely gilded frame, and, elevated on a white pedestal, a significant bronze sculpture by Manolo Valdés—not only mix up textures, but also add a dose of glam like that of fine jewelry.

Similarly, the adjacent family room, which was designed to integrate the fireplace as a focal point, employs a mix of textures to add interest to the monochromatic palette of grays. The rough-hewn coffee table, for example, was carved from anthracite coal.

Continuity is another element that Hinojosa brought to the home. The geometric motif of the great room’s rug echoes in the borders of the draperies, as well in the dining room, where a bronze screen door with gray-mirrored glass features a dramatic pattern and serves to divide the large room for smaller gatherings. “When it’s open,” says Hinojosa, “it can seat up to 24 people.” Red pops up again here, as striking stitching on the backs of the dining chairs.

Hinojosa designed the millwork throughout to conceal storage, including the foyer paneling, the living room’s white-lacquer builtins, and the leather-and-bronze cabinetry around the family room’s fireplace, all fabricated by builder and craftsman Jerry Rowland of Handcraft Construction Management, who oversaw all construction. Subtle variations in tonality of materials express their own organic movement and beauty, as though they are celebrating their authenticity. The entry’s polished travertine flooring in a chevron design nods to the marble in the master bath, and Venetian plaster walls in the foyer are a tactile organic surface that references the goatskin-parchment tiles in the master bedroom.

The master bedroom is one particular area that is especially precise in its yacht-like execution of unwasted space. “The moment my clients mentioned that they wanted to have the feel of a yacht in their new condo, I immediately though of Jean-Michel Frank and his understated luxury,” Hinojosa says. As an homage to Frank’s use of vellum-sheathed walls, the goatskin tiles ingeniously panel the bedroom walls in a grid pattern, concealing closets, storage and even a television. “Each tile was individually selected for coloration and then wrapped and numbered,” says the designer. “It was like a big puzzle.” Sea-inspired accents in shades of aqua and oyster give the room added warmth.

With the designer having accompanied the clients to exclusive fairs around the globe to source one-of-a-kind pieces, it is no surprise the space radiates an unusual sophistication. As a result, the residence, with an unobstructed captain’s view of Biscayne Bay, also possesses something of a worldly voyage.