Midcentury To Modern: Taking A Miami Home To Colorful New Heights


light-filled foyer with white walls,...

Innovations’ Hudson wallcovering from Jeffrey Michaels wraps a door revealing the foyer, grounded in Prosein USA’s Bianco Onice and Eukalypt Cacao tiles. Against walls painted Sherwin-Williams’ Antique White are artworks by Fidel Micó and Baruj Salinas.

living area with blue loveseat,...

A Roche Bobois loveseat, clad in Missoni Home fabric, and the brand’s Profile sofa join Cattelan Italia’s Arena coffee table in the living area. Just behind are the dining space—overseen by Oggetti Designs pendants—and library nook, home to Arketipo chairs.

dining area with purple square...

A Zhuang Hong-yi piece makes a statement in the dining area, where Davila Woodwork fabricated the light oak buffet with a Caesarstone top. The Artisan chair pulls up to Miniforms’ Juice table.

dining area with black chairs,...

In front of a Gustavo Acosta artwork, the dining area’s Artefacto chairs gather with Miniforms’ Mastea table from Addison House. The column is swathed in a Zimmer + Rohde wallcovering from Jeffrey Michaels.

family room with gray sectional,...

Cattelan Italia’s Rio coffee tables and Arketipo’s Starman sectional rest atop a floor covering from Amir Rug Gallery in the family room. An Anatoly Baratynsky artwork pops on a wall colored Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster.

powder room with blue patterned...

The powder room’s Ceramica Sant’Agostino porcelain tiles—lining a wall and the floor—and Vigo sink and faucet are all from Kubika. The light oak vanity by Davila Woodwork perches beneath a custom mirror. Kartell’s É pendants are from Lumens.

bedroom with white walls, blue...

In the primary bedroom, a bench from Addison House presides at the foot of Ditre Italia’s Kim bed. Phillip Jeffries’ Savanna Weave decorates the headboard wall; a Ramón Vázquez painting hangs nearby. Blu Dot’s Trace 3 pendant from Lightology completes the scene.

Set just a stone’s throw from the Intracoastal Waterway, it is no small wonder that the owners of this 1949 property were so attached to their residence of 20 years. The couple had raised three sons in the house and developed cherished friendships along the way. Still, despite undergoing two renovations and additions, the abode bore little resemblance to the colorful midcentury modern dwelling they desired—especially with suitable space for their active social lives, in which hosting dinner parties is a regular event.

Tiptoeing into what started as a kitchen renovation grew into a full overhaul as the couple went back-and-forth with their interior designer, Susana Stolear. First the wife inquired if the dining area could be made larger, then Stolear suggested moving the primary suite from the front of the house to the rear. “As I massaged the layout, they continued to add more changes,” she recalls. “We spent a lot of time proposing alternative layouts without gutting the house until they realized: There was no other way than taking everything out and starting fresh.”

With general contractor Michael Newman’s expertise, the two-story Bal Harbour home was torn down to the studs. “This is more challenging than constructing a new residence from the ground up, because you have to work around existing structures and mechanics,” he points out. “Producing a cohesive modern build while having those limitations makes projects like this very complex.” Much of the work took place on the main floor, including eliminating walls to create a more open plan laden with natural light. “The home had a bunch of little rooms,” Newman explains, “and we had to marry each one together.”

The changes are unmistakable from the outset. To create a grand first impression, the entry was relocated off center and given an overhang area. The result: a contemporary façade with columns and a sloping roof, elements that nod to the 1960s. Inside, a new towering 12-foot-tall foyer “gives the impression of a big house,” Stolear observes. The former foyer was replaced by an interior garden space with a porcelain wood tile runner, smoothing the transition from the outside.

Continuing that indoor-outdoor connection throughout the lower level, panoramic windows bathe the living and dining areas, kitchen and entrance library in natural light. Sliding doors, meanwhile, enhance sight lines from one end of the home to the other. “When you open the front door, the whole house opens up, with the pool as a backdrop and the garden encircling it,” Stolear says. “At night, it all lights up and sparkles.”

The new layout also generates desired space for entertaining, particularly in the connected living and dining areas. To ensure ample storage wasn’t lost, the interior designer came up with the idea of installing a custom light oak buffet in place of the dining area’s bay window. “It’s long enough to display lots of food and have good circulation around the main table,” she adds.

White walls and gray porcelain flooring establish a clean backdrop for the interiors, portraying the neutral tones Stolear favors. However, the clients’ preference for a myriad of color pushed the interior designer creatively. She began by introducing the wife’s favorite pairing: blue and white, seen in places such as the family room rug, the powder room’s wall tile and the living area’s statement velvet sofa. “Blue ties the house together and contrasts beautifully against the onyx tile floor and the light oak wood,” Stolear notes. Things take a more colorful spin throughout the couple’s contemporary art collection and at the bar, where the interior designer swathed the accent wall in a rainbow mural. And although most of the furnishings convey ’60s-style shapes in natural materials, Stolear stepped out of her comfort zone by cloaking the living area loveseat in a striped fabric of yellow, orange and pink.

A patterned wallcovering carries the blue-and-white scheme into the tranquil primary bedroom, which was expanded to incorporate a seating area, a larger closet and an adjoining bathroom. Formerly facing the street, the suite’s new location offers views of the verdant grounds by landscape designer Jorge Varela. There, too, the interior’s primary color combination appears on the terrace’s Cuban porcelain tile inlay, a nod to the wife’s heritage.

Renovating the house was far more difficult than rebuilding, Stolear emphasizes. “But we all wanted this journey to happen in a beautiful way that takes advantage of the home’s bones and brings it to the next level of comfort,” she says. And it certainly does.