Inside An Old World-Style Miami Beach Home With Modern Interiors


Evoking Spanish and Italian architecture, builders Adriana and Luis Hernandez incorporated terra-cotta roof tiles and coral stone details on the entrance facade, which features an entrance tower. La Finestra windows punctuate the painted stucco.

A custom table centers the round entryway in a Miami Beach home by designer Susan Bednar Long. Remains Lighting Company’s polished-nickel Ibex sconces frame the front door, which reveals honed marble floors and a curved staircase with a steel railing forged by hand.

Hudson Valley Lighting sconces and Vaughan lanterns punctuate the gallery hall. Across from an Andy Warhol piece, The Gladiator by Fernando Botero stands before a Jackson Pollock artwork. Bungalow 5’s Augusta armchair sits next to a custom console holding a Robert Abbey lamp.

Kelly Wearstler’s Strada chandelier crowns the living room, home to Global Views armchairs, Holland & Sherry’s Evelyn rug and a Gabby side table. Ralph Lauren Home lamps top White on White cabinets near Estro sconces. The settee and coffee table are custom.

Vintage armchairs join Jonathan Charles’ Soho martini table and a custom coffee table on Colonial Mills’ Allure rug in the library. Robert Abbey floor lamps frame Wesley Hall’s Blaine sofa, accented by David Salle artwork, Casamidy’s Moneda side table and Made Goods nesting tables.

In the breakfast area, Hickory Chair’s Laurent dining chairs encircle Justin Van Breda London’s high-gloss mahogany Legacy Darcy table with chrome detailing. The draperies are made of P/Kaufmann’s Slubby linen from Arabel Fabrics. Overhead is a custom light.

Ann Sacks checkerboard tile flooring flows into the kitchen, featuring a La Cornue range and Reflecting Design’s Pazzo mirror. York Street Studio’s terra-cotta leather Thonet stools line the Statuario marble counter beneath Remains Lighting Company’s Mercer 17 lanterns.

A Blu Dot sofa gathers with Gabby’s Eleanor table and a TCS Designs, Inc. armchair in a guest bedroom. Made Goods’ Conrad nightstand partners with Oly’s Faline bed. Surya’s Temple rug lays on painted white wood flooring. Robert Abbey’s Aiden lamp completes the scene.

Ann Sacks marble appears on the flooring and walls of the wife’s bathroom, outfitted with a BainUltra tub and Theodore Alexander’s Fillmore stool. A Hector Finch wall sconce affixed to the mirror offers ambience.

Atop the side of the house is a reproduction of a church bell the homeowners fell in love with in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Terra-cotta roof tiles and details in coral stone amid La Finestra windows reinforce the exterior’s old-world vibe.

At first glance, Tracy and Alisa Bahl’s Mediterranean-style house looks every bit a part of South Florida’s architectural legacy. There’s coral-stone trim around the windows and cornices, a tile roof, a rotunda and even a bell tower. Step into the luminous entry, however, and the clean lines and bold juxtapositions signal that this Old World-style residence is, in fact, a new build. Crisp white wainscoting opposes the steel balustrade on the dramatic curving staircase leading to the second floor, while the creamy tiles underfoot are accented with graphic details in dark stone, continuing the length of the adjacent gallery hall. “The exterior is traditional, but inside, it’s a completely different feeling,” says designer Susan Bednar Long. “The owners wanted a classic but updated look, so that contrast was intentional.”

The original midcentury dwelling on the property had long been the couple’s second home. Though it offered proximity to family and friends as well as gorgeous sunset views over the water, turning the existing structure into their forever home proved impractical, and the Bahls decided to start fresh. “As much as we loved it, the house had 1942 problems,” Tracy explains. “The space usage and flow weren’t right for us. And we wanted a second story, which couldn’t be built on top of that foundation.” Alisa adds, “We wanted a layout that worked for how we live and entertain.”

Making the most of the long, narrow site, architect Carlos Palmer designed a two-story volume with a vaulted center hallway as a breezeway between the primary rooms on both floors. Midway down the lower-level corridor, French doors open to two interior courtyards with loggias, ensuring an easy flow indoors and out. “The house is classical, but its layout is modern,” Palmer says. “The hall forms a strong axis, which ends with a round pool mirroring the bell tower at the front.”

Builder Adriana Hernandez, who helmed the project with her father, builder Luis Hernandez, applauds the owners’ commitment to authenticity. “The raw steel staircase railing feels like something someone would have done years ago,” she says. “The columns are actual coral columns, and the pavers in front are salvaged Chicago brick. As a builder, these details take longer and require more coordination, but they make the house.”

For the interiors, Long took her cues from one of the couple’s favorite European getaways, the J.K. Place Capri, which offers a fresh take on traditional Italian design. She embraced the challenge of creating an atmosphere that would spotlight their growing art collection while bringing in a streamlined feel of traditional forms and fixtures. Because the dwelling had to be comfortable when it was just Tracy and Alisa yet flex to accommodate their visiting sons and gatherings both large and small, there are spaces for entertaining and lounging. The media room, for instance, holds a spacious sectional as well as a pool table that can act as an overflow dining table. A coffered ceiling sounds a formal note in the white paneled library, which the designer outfitted with a striped rug, mirrored bar, houndstooth-covered wing chair and white performance fabric on the settee. Just across the hall, the dining room also leans formal, but she took care to include such practical features as hidden wall storage and ring pulls on the backs of the chairs so they can be moved without touching the fabric.

Long tapped her experience in yacht design to put an elegantly nautical spin on the octagonal breakfast area, where a glossy mahogany table inlaid with chrome is joined by creamy faux- leather chairs finished in navy piping. Meanwhile, the flowing white draperies and the drum shade overhead are edged with stripes. “I’m a huge stripes fan,” she says. “I’d put them on everything.”

The designer deployed a more informal vibe for the upstairs bedrooms and the couple’s office, with a complementary palette and painted wood floors. Angled, beamed ceilings and round windows invoke the coastal nod, while a cathedral ceiling brings a lofty feel to the primary bedroom. The latter is accented with tomato red, inspired by a Horst P. Horst photograph Alisa wanted on display, and traditional lacquered linen side tables.

Best of all, the abode is an homage to the city the owners adore. “We can be in the middle of bustling Miami Beach one minute and in our pool the next, enjoying a drink and watching the sunset,” Tracy says. Alisa adds: “We love Miami, and we wanted it to be part of what we built.”