When a Chicago theater instructor inherited a Fort Lauderdale condo that had belonged to his father and grandfather, the sentimental value was only the beginning of its worth. The family history coupled with panoramic views of Port Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean was all the persuasion he needed to keep the home despite it being long in need of renovation. “It was very dated,” the homeowner remembers. “It still had its 1970s décor with flowered sofas and green carpeting. But I loved it, and I wanted to create my own little haven, my own utopia.”
His distinct tastes, though, were challenging to interpret. “I wanted something eclectic, funkified, steampunk, and exciting. I love shag carpeting; I love rustic; I love overstuffed furniture,” he says. “And everything I was seeing wasn’t meshing with my style.” However, when he met designers Ray Jimenez and Shannon Scott, they immediately understood his vision. “They were hip,” he says, “and their presentation made me go, ‘yes!’ Except they said no shag carpeting—they worked hard to convince me of that.”
Jimenez and Scott set out to accommodate the owner’s lifestyle, tackling the renovation with the help of builder Paul Chavez. “It challenged us, but it was a good challenge,” Scott remembers. “We decided to merge our contemporary approach with his rustic style, and he loved that.”
Upon entering the combined living and dining room, one is greeted not only by floor-to-ceiling glass views of the ocean, but also by a host of sculptural shapes and objects. The duo used a mix of earth tones to keep the overall décor from seeming over-the-top. A chandelier above the dining table, for example, boasts metal pieces bending perpendicularly like plumbing pipes, yet the designers employed filament bulbs to emit a soft, warm glow. The living room sofas and club chairs—previously owned by the homeowner’s grandparents—were reshaped “to make them more clean-lined and less bubbly,” recalls Scott. He then reupholstered them in soft cream and brown tones that complement the hand-scraped barnwood floors. “The floors have a lot of knots and imperfections, which at first was a tough sell to the installer,” Jimenez says. “He only wanted to use the perfect pieces, but we told him to install it all because we wanted that weathered feel.’”
In response to the homeowner’s desire for a more open plan, a wall was removed to open up the previously enclosed kitchen and create a bar area for easy entertaining. Although the cabinetry was painted and then distressed to reveal the bare wood underneath, the countertops were clad with quartzite with a honed finish that feels soft to the touch—almost like leather.
The kitchen and adjacent hallway are dressed in bold wallpaper made to resemble hundreds of rusted safe-deposit boxes. “We wanted something different that you don’t typically see,” Jimenez says. That gritty look also appears in the master bathroom: white tile walls with darkened grout, recalling a subway station, as well as his-and-her sinks with exposed plumbing and acrylic supports. “They’re very industrial and rustic,” Jimenez adds. “It’s part of that steampunk feel he was looking for.”
In the end, the homeowner even got something close to the shag carpet he wanted: wool rugs with long strands in the master bedroom and guest room. “It’s not thin and wispy feeling,” Scott says. “This has density to it. It feels good on your feet, but it has more warmth.” As they accomplished so much in this home, the designers took the owner’s spirit and articulated it through a more contemporary prism.