When interior designers Laila Colvin and Rafaela Simoes received a call from a repeat client requesting help for her newest residence, a Bal Harbour, Florida high-rise, they were already armed with captivating shorthand to produce an eclectic look they knew she would appreciate.
Inspired by the owner’s globetrotting sojourns and Brazilian heritage, Colvin and Simoes presented a worldly concept with South American influences serving as the foundation. “She appreciates wood, stone and nature,” Colvin says, “so these became our initial inspirations.”
As the duo kicked off the project, the client was snapping up distinctive finds while traveling in India. But pieces like the Asian rug and statues that landed in the family room weren’t the homeowner’s only contributions. From the outset, Colvin and Simoes faced the challenge of also incorporating items from two of her former residences: antique, eclectic and French elements from a Lincoln Road house and more modern ones from a nearby apartment. To create cohesion among the varied furnishings, “we placed the pieces she wanted to include from the previous projects in the bedrooms and family room—the private spaces,” Simoes says.
The client’s love of collecting drove many of the interior designers’ decisions. “We created niches for the artifacts she finds during her travels,” Simoes says. General contractor Joey Newman built shelving in the family room, the living area, a hallway and the master bedroom, where he removed two walk-in closets to create an alcove. “There are so many stories behind each element in this residence,” he says. “The woodwork, textures and colors make each interior pop because of the Brazilian flair Laila and Rafaela bring to their projects.”
To establish a unified Brazilian impression for the mix of inventory, the team installed oak elements, including a 6-foot-wide door, paneling in the foyer and ceiling slabs in the living area, where the Atlantic Ocean’s shades of aqua pour in through oversize windows. “When you usually enter a residence in this part of the country, you see a white, flat ceiling,” Colvin says. “Because the view is so dynamic, we thought the light would be too much, so we clad the ceiling in wood.”
As a contrast to the abundance of oak, the team chose pale porcelain tile flooring and covered other walls in a custom Venetian plaster with a suede treatment. “We like to take a rough material and give it a fine finish,” Simoes says. The interior designers made a particularly notable statement by replacing a feature wall seen upon entry with a laser-cut screen in a pattern the duo designed. The divider separates the foyer from the dining area, where rattan chairs surround a marble-topped table beneath brass-and-glass lighting pendants. “When we selected the dining furniture, we wanted it to be super clean because the screen needed to be the main feature,” Colvin explains.
The dining area also displays a large wall photograph of tropical green leaves, one of the prominent hues in the apartment’s color palette. Colvin and Simoes embraced emerald and orange to complement the ocean views and the unit’s oak features, while a mix of luxurious and rustic materials play up the eclectic feel. The look is exemplified in the living area, where they placed pieces like orange suede armchairs, a deep green velvet ottoman and a bronze mirrored coffee table against floor-to-ceiling wood oak wall panels that slide open to reveal a television.
Golds and brass, seen predominately on light fixtures throughout the residence, inject an additional sense of glam, countering the earthy feel the owner favors. The powder room, for instance—a space that nods to the client’s Brazilian roots—juxtaposes copper faucets with a banana leaf-print wallcovering and concrete sink. “We wanted to bring in the rough with the fancy,” Colvin says. “It’s an affluent building and apartment, but we knew if we introduced rustic elements, we would achieve an organic luxuriousness.”
Layered, textural and wonderfully diverse, the interior designers’ latest project with the homeowner tells a culminating story of years of collaboration and travels. “We kept things eclectic,” Colvin says. “We knew things would be different in this project.”