For nearly three years, Carlos and Laura Silva searched for the perfect spot in Miami to construct their forever home. “We would literally go door to door and ask people if they were thinking of selling their house,” Laura recalls. “Eventually, I was so frustrated that I told Carlos, ‘Let’s just remodel our home and forget about building something new.’ ”
One day, the Silvas returned to a residence they’d visited–only this time, they were greeted by a different person. “The man who opened the door said his mother had passed away three weeks ago, and the family wanted to sell the house quickly,” Laura says. “I explained to the gentleman I needed to pray for guidance before making a decision. Once I told him that, he said he knew we were meant to knock on his door that day.” The man agreed to sell the couple the property, finally ending their search.
While in accord regarding the neighborhood, the Silvas were slightly at odds about the style of their new abode. “Our previous home was very traditional, and I wanted more of a relaxed, modern design this time,” Laura says. “I wanted it to feel warm and cozy but sophisticated.” Carlos, however, loves classic looks. That’s where interior designer Bea Pila came in, pulling together an aesthetic that satisfies both preferences by defining the home’s mood, rather than its style. “When I meet with clients, the first thing I ask them to do is write down words that describe how they want to feel in their home,” she says. “Laura and Carlos told me ‘comfortable, relaxed and elegant,’ so every design choice I made referred to those words.”
Influenced by their travels overseas, the Silvas’ new home is a modern interpretation of a European chÃ¢teau. “Although their residence is inspired by a traditional French estate, it’s not as heavily ornamented,” explains architect Antonio E. Rodriguez, who simplified elements such as exterior handrails and scroll details. “The lines are clean and classic, versus overly ornate.” Carlos, meanwhile, took a large role in the construction of the project and oversaw the expansive home’s completion. The resulting structure encompasses a wine cellar, a cigar room and a chapel, while the grounds also contain a pavilion for entertaining as well as a tennis court, a pool and a soccer field for the couple’s young children.
Inside, Pila addressed the classic-contemporary dichotomy from the beginning. The grand two-story foyer displays a barreled gold-leaf ceiling, a pair of French armchairs and a trio of Venetian chandeliers along with limestone flooring, modern sconces and an edgy marble console table set against a mirrored wall.
The entry leads to a Pila-created lounge reminiscent of one found in a hotel, complete with a bar, a fireplace and a piano. “In every home I create, no matter how big or small, everybody ends up in the kitchen when they’re entertaining,” she says. “The only way to stop that from happening is to produce another environment that’s just as enticing.” To that end, the interior designer fashioned a variety of conversation areas by grouping armchairs around a coffee table near the fireplace and pairing barstools with occasional tables along the glass doors to the loggia. Traditional wood beams line the ceiling, while contemporary porcelain wood tile in a chevron pattern surrounds the fireplace. “We also added bronze mirrored mosaic tiles that were stripped down and embedded into the porcelain, which instantly modernizes it and offers some sparkle,” Pila says. The room establishes the home’s cool palette of taupe, ecru, white, silver and navy. “This space is so inviting and comfortable that you want to be in there for hours, having drinks with friends by the fireplace or piano,” the interior designer says.
On the other side of the bar, the family room provides an additional gathering place with a navy sectional and blue swivel armchairs arranged around marble coffee tables. Bits of color come from the orange sofa pillows and the red-and-tan painting by Antonio Guerrero–one of the many pieces by Cuban artists Pila sourced in honor of the couple’s heritage. “Artwork is so personal, so this was a challenge,” she admits, adding that Laura prefers abstract themes while Carlos does not. “But we were able to find some really beautiful pieces they both loved.” The room connects to the spacious white kitchen where an oversize quartzite-topped island dominates, dark wooden beams decorate the ceiling and Calacatta Gold marble forms the backsplash.
Down the hall, a staircase leads to the master suite, a grand space rendered in champagne and ivory. Pila arranged a cozy sofa and armchair near a large tufted ottoman in the sitting area and set an elegant, feminine tone for the sleeping quarters with a French-style bed. “Even though Laura wanted a modern look for the home, she was still drawn to the soft lines of French traditional,” the interior designer explains. A Romo wallcovering surrounds the room, and velvet-trimmed sheer draperies frame doors to a terrace.
The journey to their forever home may have taken years, but the Silvas are grateful to have a new dwelling that is at once relaxed and refined. “Carlos and I sit on our terrace looking out over our beautiful backyard, and we feel so blessed we were able to do this,” Laura says.