Like the perfect cocktail, interior design is about combining the right ingredients to create a captivating concoction. Whether offsetting contemporary art with vintage finds or warming cool surfaces with cozy textures, the perfect recipe requires equilibrium.
For interior designer Blanca Wall, the enticing blend came in the form of a Brickell high-rise renovation for a bachelor with a shaken-not-stirred, stylish yet sink-right-in design philosophy. “Our client wanted the apartment to feel contemporary and masculine but still down to earth and comfortable,” she says. “The end result is very Miami but not over the top or flashy.”
To achieve high impact with notes of laid-back ease, Wall relied on a recipe that leans heavily on bold materials tempered by neutral colors and subtle texture. Limestone and bronze are offset by a palette of creams and warm grays. European oak floors with exposed grain soften dark-stained elm millwork while disguising wear and tear from the owner’s spirited Portuguese water dog, Larry.
Long and linear, the floor plan is the result of a year-long renovation led by Wall and general contractor Richard Schuerger, with Guillermo Encinosa of Cohen Freedman Encinosa & Associates serving as the architect of record. Combining two apartments into one, makeover culminated in an open-flow layout with a wealth of windows that takes full advantage of the apartment’s panoramic views of Biscayne Bay.
Those vistas are seen immediately from the living area, where the team enclosed nearly half of the connecting balcony. The restructuring expanded the interior, shields the resulting intimate terrace from the wind and tames what Wall describes as an “overly rectilinear” layout. “Repurposing the original balcony into the living area balances out the room and allowed us to accommodate a pool table and custom bar, which was important to our client,” she says.
Equally important is the room’s restrained machismo. Heavy, angular pieces—the lacquered pool table and cage-work coffee tables with dark-stained fruitwood bases—are softened by cream sofas and a chevron-patterned cowhide rug. Light oak floors and limestone-clad walls act as light and airy counterpoints to the room’s darker elements, such as the Japanese charred-wood bar with brass fittings.
The area is one of the unit’s “compartments” of seating areas with various functions, a strategy Wall used to give the home an intimate yet expansive feel. To enhance the effect, she divided several areas using slatted-wood privacy screens with brass metal inlays, allowing for minimal walls and angled just so ocean vistas could be viewed from the entrance. “The screens are an important element in this apartment,” the interior designer says. “They give a sense of arrival and separate the spaces, allowing for privacy but still maintaining a feeling of openness.”
Opposite the living area’s screen and open fireplace, a media room exemplifies the apartment’s masculinity-in-moderation aesthetic through a considered mix of materials. A cerused-oak and concrete bar features a dual-purpose metal inlay, adding visual interest and acting as a sleek bar-length drinks coaster. Leather barstools with burnished-brass bases swivel for easy maneuverability, while generous sofas, a tufted ottoman and a channeled rug soften the room’s hard edges.
On the other side of the living area, an expansive wall of bookshelves creates a bridge to the kitchen. Extraneous details on the elm cabinets, stained in smoked ebony, were kept to a minimum so accessories and the client’s collection of kaleidoscopic books draw the eye, acting as a “confetti explosion of fun,” Wall describes. To lighten the space, exposed pine shelves were painted white and backed with a subtly textured seagrass Japanese-style wallpaper.
The unit’s organic, neutral palette allows for a celebration of color from not just the books but also artwork throughout. “We kept the overall palette quiet so the art could take center stage,” Wall says. Vibrant works by street artists adorn the walls in the living area, while the gray-hued master bedroom is the perfect backdrop for a graphic painting. In the media room, the ideal space for watching football, the owner commissioned a local artist to create a piece that nods to his love of the sport.
The artistic focal point in the powder room, meanwhile, is a striking living wall of greenery, including string-of-pearls and various air plants. Originally planned for the terrace, the feature was relocated inside after shrinking the balcony, now joining a hand-fabricated stone sink. The natural materials counter the apartment’s industrial side, adding a dose of relaxing earthiness for just the right cocktail. “At the end of the day, we wanted to create a space that feels sleek and modern,” Wall says. “But we didn’t want that to come at the expense of feeling inviting or approachable.”