An Opulent, Eclectic Estate In Coral Gables Gets A Refresh


An opulent, eclectic estate in Coral Gables gets a refresh.

The homeowner's chandelier influenced the palette in the family room, where a Circa Lighting lamp is next to the client's armchair. The antique oak table is from Mecox in Dallas. Drying Tomatoes by Mark Roskams rests above the mantel, while an Hermès scarf enlivens a wall, painted Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White.

Madeline Weinrib ikat pillows and draperies add interest to the family room in a revamped Coral Gables residence. The homeowner's sofa and a Serena & Lily coffee table sit on Rodarte's Cobalte rug for The Rug Company and a hemp rug from Niba Designs. An antique console from Mecox holds Forty Five Ten lamps.

Designer Hillary Littlejohn Scurtis placed Christopher Spitzmiller's Dahlia plates around the kitchen doorway. The barstools in an Edelman Leather are from Lars Bolander in New York. In the hallway beyond, a gilded starburst mirror hangs above a George Smith settee.

A tile vault ceiling crowns the kitchen, which has travertine flooring. Christopher Peacock cabinetry fills the island.

An opulent, eclectic estate in Coral Gables gets a refresh.

Baccarat's Zenith chandelier is suspended above the owner's antique dining table and The Rug Company's Climbing Leopard rug. The chairs were reupholstered with Holland & Sherry's Arden leather. Draperies made from Cowtan & Tout fabric frame the window.

A niche in the dining room displays the owner's rococo mirror and Empire-style cabinet, which holds a Christopher Spitzmiller lamp with a gilt base. To create the feel of a London supper club, the team painted the millwork Farrow & Ball's Studio Green No. 93.

In the office, a pair of George Smith's Petworth chairs stand on Palecek's painted zebra hide. The designers fabricated the built-in, which wears Waterworks hardware. The chandelier, lamp, desk and desk chair are from the client's collection.

Kelly Wearstler's Astral rug warms the master bedroom, where velvet Hygge Life pillows cover George Smith's Julien sofa. Single Ajour linens are on the client's bed; to the left is a chest from Lars Bolander, and to the right is Visual Comfort & Co.'s Crescent lamp by Michael S. Smith.

Rachel Ashwell's Liliput chair and a Madeline Weinrib cotton dhurrie rug rest near the master bedroom's freestanding tub. Tile from Innovative Surfaces decorates a wall framing doors to a balcony, and the Bryant chandelier by Thomas O'Brien for Visual Comfort & Co. hovers above.

"The front courtyard was a very barren hot spot," Scurtis recalls. To bring life to it, the team sourced antique pots as planters and the French-style fountain from Authentic Provence. The furnishings, including the wood McKinnon and Harris chairs, are the client's.

The homeowner procured all the pieces for the loggia, where the designers provided inspiration and direction. "We wanted to continue with a fresh, contemporary look--lots of white, blues and bright colors," Scurtis says.

Like a meticulous collector, designer Hillary Littlejohn Scurtis takes a curatorial approach to her work. “I am very disciplined, and I don’t like random objects that have no narrative,” she says. “If something doesn’t speak to the function of the room, I take it out.”

It’s a strategy that proved crucial for her latest project, a French Provencal-inspired estate in Coral Gables that called for an interior design refresh. The client, a world traveler who grew up in Kenya, had developed a taste for the exotic. Boasting authentic French details, the home was originally created by architect Bill Taylor and residential designer Phyllis Taylor.

“The rough textured Florida keystone on the front of the house is similar in color to houses in the south of France,” Bill Taylor points out. Inside, Phyllis Taylor incorporated diverse elements acquired during a trip to Paris, including elaborate replace mantels sourced at a flea market and architectural salvage stored in warehouses. “The antique paneling in the library was a lucky Internet find,” she adds. “And features like the kitchen’s tiled barrel vault and the office’s tin ceiling were important components for the ambience of each space.”

Working with designer colleagues Patricia Duran and Susana Kempen as well as general contractor Patrick Lee, Scurtis was tasked with editing the home’s opulent look and giving it purpose. “It couldn’t be decoration for decoration’s sake,” she notes. “And the most important thing was to make this palatial home feel cozy.”

Scurtis began by looking up and down–at lighting and rugs. A Baccarat chandelier in the main living area, for instance, led to the introduction of a second one in the dining room, where the washed faux-wood paneling was an unfortunate shade of peach. “The room was impressive and intimidating, so to make it more elegant we painted the woodwork dark green–like a London supper club–and added an emerald rug featuring a massive leopard on it for a bit of fun,” Scurtis says. The piece rests beneath the owner’s sizable wood table surrounded by antique chairs.

A zebra rug, meanwhile, adds a note of playfulness to the mosaic tile flooring in the office. Sunny and airy, the space is minimally styled with new ivory-colored barrel chairs and the owner’s understated antique desk, allowing the ornate tin ceiling and French-style gold chandelier to take center stage.

A similar idea prevails in the family room, where the team stripped the dark blue ceiling beams and let the client’s rainbow-beaded chandelier come into focus. “A huge set of windows in the room looks out to a canal, so the water and chandelier became our palette guides,” Scurtis says. The trio peppered the o -white sofa with pillows in various textiles and added a rug with an indigo motif. As a final touch, framed HermeÌ€s scarves pop against the room’s new white-paneled walls.

The designers lined the family room’s bar with shagreen leather stools and placed a few more within view. “They’re repeated as counter stools in the kitchen, so there’s a connection from one space to the next,” Duran explains. There, the owner requested a display of art and objects, but Scurtis insisted they be related to culinary purposes. To compromise, she says, “We celebrated his heritage with African pottery and hung beautiful dishes on the walls.”

A nearby corridor connects to the main spaces, and to underscore its prominence, Scurtis lined a wall with mirrors as a nod to the Palace of Versailles. “The homeowner is in the hospitality industry, so he wanted his living spaces to recreate the attention to detail so prominent in his hotels,” Duran says. Along the mirrored wall, the designers placed a black settee to enjoy views of a courtyard it faces–one of the nontraditional ways they considered the client’s love for entertaining. “That hallway is so wide, I thought: What if you had a moment when you break away from the cocktail party where you could sit and enjoy the view?” Scurtis says. “You could have a cocktail party in the courtyard and move to the kitchen for dinner, where the food and prep provide entertainment and theater.”

But when it’s time for relaxation, the master suite is an ideal respite. In a clever move, Scurtis relocated a bed from a guest room–a better t for this space–and paired it with an ivory-colored sofa. To balance the tone of the traditional wallcovering, the team sourced a contemporary rug featuring abstract lines. And in the master bathroom, they added practical elements like a cozy chair and a blue cotton dhurrie rug near the freestanding tub.

By the project’s end, the combined taste of homeowner and designer helped transform the house, ushering it into the future. “His opulent aesthetic and my edited approach work well together,” Scurtis says. “Ultimately, it became a dance we did very well.”