Transforming an uninteresting space into something wonderful is a liberating moment for any designer. Repeating that experience four times with the same client has to be especially gratifying. Interior designer Fanny Haim would know. She had already altered a trio of homes for Alfredo and Andrea Frohlich when they tapped her talent to design warm modern interiors for their newest abode: a penthouse on the 32nd floor of an Aventura condominium.
On paper, the two-story dwelling, overlooking the ocean and the city’s waterways, seemed perfect. In person, though, the complicated floor plan proved less than ideal by impeding smooth circulation. Barely a few steps past the front door, guests were confronted with a developer- grade kitchen and a drywall-heavy staircase. Columns were obstacles instead of embellishments, and a utility closet devoured even more real estate.
“The residence had tremendous potential, but it was not easy to see,” Haim recalls. Her vision: Open up the space by integrating columns into architectural elements, relocating the kitchen and reconstructing the staircase. The Frohlichs were captivated. “What seemed evident to me became magical to them,” the interior designer says. “We went for understated luxury with a high degree of glamour and sophistication.”
Helmed by general contractors Santiago Tenorio and Alvaro J. Yanguas, the intensive remodel involved gutting most of the first floor. Ceilings were raised to encourage brightness and facilitate views. A brand-new kitchen and breakfast nook were coaxed from a former bedroom and bathroom, and a pair of columns disappeared into a structure devised to house a replace and storage. Perhaps the most challenging feat was fashioning the grand entrance the home deserved. With its striking chandelier, the new dining area and adjacent floating staircase of marble, glass, wood and bronze would now form the dazzling first impression from the front door. The bold architectural statement “sets the story of glamour,” Haim explains. However, modifying the structure of a condo is a painstaking process, as is crafting a new stairwell, Tenorio notes. His team fabricated solid bronze transition pieces for every step and brought in X-ray scanners to pinpoint exactly where to drill into the walls.
Creating the home’s color palette was considerably easier. Haim, inspired by Andrea’s chic fashion sense, channeled her wardrobe and focused on varying tones of taupe with touches of blue and gray suggested by the surroundings. A smoky hue pervades the master bedroom, while steel blue accents appear on sheers and pillows in the living area. In the monochromatic gray dining space, the matte and glossy finishes of lacquered eucalyptus walls, Perlato marble floors and sleek leather chairs engage in what the interior designer calls a “silent dialogue.” The serene scheme draws attention to the views and to the couple’s art collection, which includes a vibrant Fernando Botero painting over the buffet and a variety of sculptures, large and small, by the artist. “Art integration in my projects is crucial,” says Haim, who trained to be an artist while in Colombia before turning to interior design in the U.S. “Collectors look to me to help finish and curate a space, and it’s a delight for me to tap into that layer.”
From the dining area, the staircase leads to the home’s second level, where Haim continued the textural discourse in the elegant master bedroom by cladding walls in linen upholstery, lacquer and silver hemp. Down the hall, the family room is an informal gathering space containing a cozy oversize sectional and a bookcase she created especially to display the owners’ collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. A television drops down from the ceiling to not disturb views beyond the vast connecting terrace. The open area, equipped with a motorized awning to provide shade over barbecue and dining zones, is a key entertaining spot, allowing the couple to host as many as 80 guests for gatherings.
Warm, bright and modern, the Frohlichs’ fourth venture with Haim shows how much can be achieved with a little imagination and trust. “There’s a sense of passion in reaching the project’s happy ending,” Haim says. “This was more than a renovation; it was a transformation.”