Natural Light, Rock Gardens Create A Minimalist Feel


modern gray sitting area

In Miami, natural light and rock gardens create a minimalist feel in a family residence.

modern exterior entry pivot door

Tech Lighting's Syrma pendant hangs by the pivot door in the front entry of a Miami home updated by designers Sete Bassan and Hani Flicki. The duo worked with builder Fabian Bortz to open up the 15-year-old structure and bring in more natural light.

modern living area and kitchen...

Near the kitchen, the living area features Ditre Italia's Kris sectional sofa from Addison House and Calligaris tables atop a West Elm rug. The team removed the drywall ceilings "to discover the rhythm of the trusses," Bassan says.

modern white dining room gray...

Foscarini's Jamaica chandelier from YLighting crowns the dining area, where the owners' painting adds a splash of color. "We refinished the marble floors to give them more of a matte look; we wanted to lower the intensity of the color," Bassan says. Tonelli Design's Perseo table and MIDJ's Sonny chairs are from Addison House.

modern gray and neutral palette...

A trio of Axo Light's Virtus pendants hovers above the kitchen's island, which Bassan and Flicki enlarged and lined with the owners' barstools. White quartz countertops complement the existing appliances.

modern white and gray bedroom

The team carved a horizontal window strip in the master bedroom, drawing attention to Petite Friture's Vertigo pendant. Sangiacomo's king-size Ecletto bed and Cattelan Italia's Rubik rug are from Addison House. A West Elm velvet swivel chair completes the serene space.

modern white and gray bathroom...

"We modified the master bathroom to create an airier look by installing a freestanding bath tub over river stones," Bassan says. The Alape sink is from USA Floors Kitchen & Bath.

modern outdoor sitting area hammock

The trio covered the pool area's pavers with ipe-wood planks, creating natural flooring for a Gandia Blasco table from YLiving and Modani deck chairs. Artwork by Galit Garzon and the owners' hammock accentuate the lagoon-like setting.

When designers Sete Bassan and Hani Flicki first encountered their clients’ 15-year-old residence in Miami, they were struck by its cloistered and cramped ambience. “It was small, narrow and dark; it looked almost like a maze,” Flicki recalls. “Our first thought was: How do we get light into it? How do we clean up the spaces so they look airier, lighter and simpler?”

Key to any such transformation, Bassan and Flicki knew, would be opening up the warren-like central volume and letting sunlight stream inside. Initially, that meant raising the 9-foot ceilings. Working with builder Fabian Bortz, they removed drywall and transplanted the once-hidden ductwork to another location. Then they “re-covered all the trusses with a thin layer of drywall,” Bassan says. Painted a stark white, the cathedralized result is a sculptural interplay of hard angles dancing 12 feet overhead. “The complexity of the lines and the shadows they project create something like an art piece,” she says.

The next step was to further expand the interiors, by taking down walls that had isolated the kitchen from the rest of the house. Doing so effectively doubled the size of the home’s public spaces, giving the owners more choices for the placement of furnishings, such as the enlarged kitchen island that does double duty as a countertop and room divider. Bassan and Flicki warmed up the adjacent living area with a taupe-toned sectional and overlapping coffee tables, while a large red-and-teal painting, an elongated paper chandelier and light blue upholstered chairs with wooden legs bring splashes of color and soft textures to the nearby dining area.

The white-walled master bedroom continues the sense of tranquility flowing throughout the house. A low-slung, king-size bed with a modular headboard system that connects night tables and open shelving dominates the space. Elements of coziness and vibrancy come from the slate gray swivel chair resting on a cube-patterned rug. A long rectangular window Bassan and Flicki installed above the bed and a quartet of sliding glass doors leading to the patio welcome natural light and offer a glimpse of greenery. Overhead, a delicate fiberglass pendant light seems to disappear into the ceiling.

In their work, the designers try to incorporate ideas that will “bring in a Zen feeling and a quiet, peaceful look,” Flicki says. So, in addition to rich wood in the courtyard and on the front door, they employed stone to create a direct material link to nature. Elegantly contained rock gardens are carefully placed inside the house beneath the master bathroom’s freestanding tub and, most curiously, in a narrow trench in the front sitting room. “We liked the idea of separating the space by changing the texture on the floor,” Flicki explains. There, the assemblage of matte gray stones is sheltered by a glass console table–a sly reference to a wall that formerly stood in its place. “When we brought in the stones to show the clients what it would look like, they fell in love with the idea,” Bassan says. “Because we were using the same rocks on the entrance and side of the house, they felt like it was already part of the home’s language.” A midcentury modern-style chair, tufted sofa and wooden coffee table round out the sitting area, which faces a large Galit Garzon canvas.

In the end, the designers say, this is a family house that adroitly embraces a series of contrasts–between indoors and outdoors, organic and polished, comfortable and elegant. “The children are still at home,” Bassan notes, “and the clients wanted everything to be as family oriented as possible. But at the same time, it also had to be clean and organized.” While difficult to achieve, maintaining that equilibrium presents itself here with grace, natural beauty and, most importantly, serenity.