Miami’s Midnight in Paris


Midnight in Paris

Clean lines and luxurious fabrics help a design team modernize a waterfront condo with a classic French twist.

Chanel-Inspired Bar in the Living Room

Zinc Textile’s quilted faux leather from Romo lends a Chanel-inspired nod to the living room’s custom bar. Powell & Bonnell’s Alto barstools are from Stephen Turner Showroom and sport Créations Métaphores fabric from Holly Hunt. The sconces in the adjacent entry are from Blackman Cruz in Los Angeles; they hang above a custom console by Deborah Wecselman Design and flank a painting from the owners’ collection.

White, Modern Living Room with Large TV and Standout Fabrics

Custom velvet-clad Holly Hunt Waterloo sofas team with chairs from the owners’ previous home; now they’re upholstered in Great Outdoors fabric from Holly Hunt. The small accent pillows on the sofas boast Schumacher’s patterned Serengeti fabric. Interior designer Deborah Wecselman designed the cocktail table for the homeowners 10 years ago; it joins a sculptural table by Gabriel Scott and a white marble table by Caste. Mark Alexander’s Frost sheers, from Romo, filter in natural light.

Kitchen with Porcelain Tiles and Blue Furniture Accents

Ann Sacks mirrored tiles and honed porcelain tile flooring from Opustone Natural Stone Distributors changed the tone of the kitchen, which also got new life by repainting the cabinetry and changing the countertops to Calacatta Gold marble, also from Opustone. Wecselman replaced an existing banquette and added Great Outdoors’ Lionheart fabric from Holly Hunt and Cairo Pinwheel pillows by Christen Maxwell. The breakfast table, chairs and light fixture are by RH.

Additional Kitchen in Modern Miami Home

Dark cherry cabinetry and paneling in an additional kitchen off the family room were painted a fresh white. Aro barstools with walnut seats are by Bernhardt Design. B&B Italia’s Tufty-Time sofa and Poliform’s Mad chairs offer seating. Pianca’s Abaco coffee tables are from Addison House.

Modern Art Pieces with Saffron Rug

Tall, narrow painted-wood panels of a male and female figure by Cuban artist José Bedia underscore the moody palette in the second-floor family room. A dyed saffron-hued semi-antique Turkish rug from Anadol Rug Co.’s Vestige collection anchors the conversation area.

Dramatic Dining Room Painting with Color Pop Chairs

In the dining room, a dramatic painting by Bedia contrasts the Donghia velvet on the chairs; the chairs and table are by Nuhouse Furniture + Design from Ammon Hickson, and the bowls are by Alexander Lamont. Global Views sconces and a Lindsey Adelman chandelier light the space. Phillip Jeffries’ wallpaper from Holly Hunt clads the ceiling.

Standout White Chandelier on the Stair Landing

A midcentury Stilnovo chandelier from Michel Contessa Antiques lends whimsy to the upper landing. It hangs from a circular recess over a custom table that sits on a vintage goatskin rug; the glass accessories on the table are by Sklo. The bench near the window is also vintage, as is the 1950s brass coat rack to its side.

Outdoor Room with Beautiful Miami View

Roomy Brown Jordan sofas from Clima Outdoor anchor a terrace overlooking the water. Marble-topped tables with stainless-steel legs were custom-designed by Wecselman; vases are by Janus et Cie, and the basket is by Neó. Forest barstools are also by Janus et Cie; they complement the leathered-granite countertop from Opustone Natural Stone Distributors. Canvas awnings shelter the area from sun and rain, while ipe-wood cladding from Brazilian Direct warms the space, which also features RH sconces and a Stark rug.

Gray Master Bedroom with Rose Gold Accent Pillow and Plush Seating

The master bedroom includes a channeled headboard wearing Rogers & Goffigon wool thanks to Le Jeune Upholstery. A custom desk joins a chair from Erinn V. Collection in Los Angeles. The custom-upholstered bench, from Michael Dawkins Home, is softened with Mongolian fur. Perched on the bedside table are Kinsa porcelains by BC Home; above them hangs a pendant by John Pomp. The room is wrapped in Cowtan & Tout wallpaper.

Master Bathroom with View and Modern Chandelier

A window behind the master bathroom’s shower affords a stellar view, and sliding doors open to the terrace. The floating vanity has an integrated trough sink in Bianco Dolomiti marble from Stone Source in New York, fabricated by The Place for Tile, and Dornbracht faucets. A custom bench with acrylic legs is covered in Larsen upholstery. A Varick chandelier by RH adds modernity to the tray ceiling.

It would be impossible to look past the seductive city and ocean views of this spacious, two-story penthouse—especially with terraces on both levels that boost the square footage by 50 percent. But the Aventura high-rise where it resides has much to distinguish in and of itself, with the highest level of materials, resort-style amenities and an ambience that sings French 1940s chic. Even so, for the owners and their three college-age children, the ample interiors needed editing in order to better suit their lifestyle. “The apartment was very heavy architecturally,” explains interior designer Deborah Wecselman, who has had a relationship with the couple for 15 years. From ceiling to floor, haute ornamentation ruled, with fancy moldings, detailed tray and coffered ceilings, gilding, lots of figured stone, and dark traditional built-ins. 

So the mission was to simplify. The owners wanted a more modern feel and liked the idea of subtle accents suggestive of a Parisian flat. “We made it more French modern,” says Javier Ortiz, Wecselman’s project manager who took on the interior architectural detailing alongside the designer, with Jorge L. Esteban of Accolade Architecture serving as architect of record. 

To begin, Wecselman had a white-oak parquet floor installed in the outer foyer. She then replaced stained-glass upper panels on the existing entry doors with mesh grillwork typically found in old French architecture. She liked the European elegance of the ornate iron railing on the staircase inside, but not its open risers. “We removed a wood cap and brass finials, which had been creating excess ornamentation,” says Ortiz. “We added a simpler metal handrail and created a wall to conceal exposed risers, and wood steps instead of stone. It’s a dramatic 180-degree change.”

For the space, Wecselman designed a tufted recamier upholstered in Romo’s teal Loriano crushed velvet and teamed it with modern touches: a Praying Mantis floor lamp reminiscent of the work of ’50s French designer Serge Mouille, a geometric black-marble-topped Matrix table and a white cowhide rug by Stark. More refinements came in the living room. “We removed some trimwork and de-bulked medallions in the center of an elaborate coffered ceiling, and then painted it all white,” says builder Javier Delgado. “It’s a ghost of the old design.”

Keeping the look light, Wecselman had an oak herringbone floor installed and custom-stained it to look weathered, nodding to the style of French designers Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier. “The herringbone especially works in angled spaces due to an irregular layout,” she says. “I didn’t want to be too modern—everybody is doing planking these days.” Next, Wecselman and Ortiz designed a chic bar to replace the old dark cherry millwork. On the opposite wall, a Louis XV-style replace was nixed, as well as its stepped- out paneled framework. In its place, there’s a simple custom lacquered-and-brass cabinet with a flat-screen TV above it. Drawing from a taupe, white and mushroom palette, Wecselman kept the layout simple, squaring up clean-lined velvet sofas with a glass-topped cocktail table and the couple’s existing chairs re-dressed in a practical textured outdoor fabric. Sheer linen draperies warm everything, adding sophistication and sheen at night because of metallic threads. “I love a mix of materials and textures,” Wecselman says. “The French do it the best.” 

In the adjacent dining room, a pair of decorative ornamental columns was removed. “That opened the space,” says Ortiz. Wecselman suggested a bold punch of saffron, a dashing complement to the graphic black-and- white art by José Bedia that stretches 15 feet across one wall. Ornamental French-style cove molding was painted to melt into neutral walls, and the ceiling was papered in a metallic pewter leaf, which lends a shimmer that’s especially glamorous in the evening. (“White was a little too crisp,” explains Wecselman.) The classic Parsons-style table, which the builder says had to be hoisted through a sliding glass door because of its lofty size, comfortably seats 10.

Entertaining is indeed important to the couple, so the flow, especially with its impressive indoor-outdoor relationship and expansive terraces that include a pool and sauna accessible from nearly every room, clearly was a selling point. So was the kitchen: Because the space had been specified with high-end custom cabinetry and never-used appliances, there was little desire to gut. “All the original paperwork was still inside most of the appliances,” says Delgado. “The previous owners must have eaten out every day. But the new owners entertain a lot, and the wife loves to cook.” New concrete-look porcelain tile floors and a riveted stainless-steel range hood hint at industrial style, while antiqued-mirrored tiles in a running bond pattern on the backsplash reflect classic French techniques from the 18th century. 

For the master suite, Wecselman says the homeowners wanted calm, silvery hues, with an updated French ’40s feel. “No crowns or baseboards. Simple,” she says. “We created a datum line with a piece of lacquered wood that establishes a separation and gives a little crispness to the room.” But Ortiz says that the most challenging space planning involved the reconfigured master bathroom. A new bath layout and shower on an exterior wall required creative work with existing plumbing, as well as “engineering to reinforce the 8-foot-long floating vanity, which held a huge piece of stone,” he says.
Additional bedrooms and bathrooms can be found on the second level, as well as a family room that offers more of the same comfort and vistas. On the huge east-facing terrace, paved with porcelain tiles to replace busy travertine flooring, Wecselman says, “you can entertain 50 people up there and not even see all of them. It’s awesome for partying outside.” The team created a new layout with a barbecue area, complete with a bar, grill, refrigerator and ice maker. Delgado, who is also a landscape architect, laid out a pergola with ipe-wrapped columns. 

Now, the sky residence is easy to love. “It offers the flexibility and amenities of a condo with the space and comfort of a home,” says Wecselman. “And with it being the penthouse, there’s nobody around you. You’re on top of the world.” 

Elaine Markoutsas