This Apartment Has Wondrous Wallcoverings and a Worldly Air


Page Turner in Miami

A New Yorker Embraces her new Miami life in an apartment that blends urban chic and Folk Art whimsy.

Though she indeed wanted the interiors to reflect her fresh start and her new home’s tropical environs, she still wanted to keep a bit of her beloved New York and life experiences on her mind. Designer
Laura Martzell put careful thought into the display of the artwork. She used a collar, for example, to showcase a piece of art the homeowner calls her “crazy quilt,” which Martzell mounted in a hallway. “Once, before Mother’s Day, I told my children—they were between ages 5 and 11 then—‘This is what Mommy would like for Mother’s Day,’” the owner recalls. “And to my surprise, I did get it.” She still has the copy of National Geographic from 1972 in which a photo of the very quilt being sewn by an elderly Appalachian artisan appears in a story about national treasures.

Otomi Tapestry in the Living Room

In honor of the owner’s fresh start, nearly all the furnishings were newly purchased, and many were custom-designed. “When we first started looking, we found this wonderful chair with a rosewood-barrel back and arms, and the rosewood was just gorgeous,” the owner says. “I fell in love with it, and we went from there.” The rest of the furnishings reflect the owner’s love of mixing styles and eras.

The owner acquired the tapestry in the living room from the Otomi people, an indigenous group living in the Central Plateau region of Mexico. Seating includes a
Holly Hunt sofa with a custom slipcover and custom club chairs in Chivasso fabric, all dressed by Le Jeune Upholstery. The custom lamp bases from Artistic Plus sport shades that were reupholstered in Kravet fabric.

Muted Glam Dining Room with Wall art and a Miami View

To complement those tropical panoramas, creating a serene interior was a must when choosing the home’s color palette and furnishings. “The view is magnificent, so we didn’t want to compete too much with the outside,” says Martzell, collaborating on the interiors with designer Jay Dick, who worked for her at the time of the project. “We wanted it to be tranquil and nurturing.” Martzell used a mostly neutral scheme in the common areas, including soft blue grass-cloth wallcoverings, to cocoon and ground the spaces. “I love wallcoverings,” the homeowner says. “It just warms everything up and makes me happy. I even have it in my laundry room.” (And Martzell is quick to point out the inside of the owner’s closet, which is also clad in wallpaper.) 

The glam dining area features a table by
Julian Chichester. The custom chairs, from Artistic Frame in New York, are upholstered in Myung Jin fabric from Jeffrey Michaels. Ochre’s Seed Cloud chandelier from David Sutherland lends an artistic lean, along with a trio of artworks from the owner’s collection. The window treatments were fabricated by Curtain Call and Automated Shading.

Soft Blue Kitchen with Bar Stools and Floor to Ceiling Windows

But despite the residence’s neutral undertones (in the wallcoverings, flooring and fabrics in the main living spaces), the owner loves bold color and wanted a bit more of her favorite—blue—to appear throughout. A fan of vibrant hues herself, Martzell was happy to oblige. Martzell gave the owner a cool, clean kitchen and—since she loves to cook and entertain—paid close attention to function. Because the owner was downsizing from her expansive New York kitchen, for example, the designer found ways to add extra storage to the existing cabinetry, such as adding a drawer under the stove. Such details have made the owner’s transition to her next chapter seamless.

Modern Day Upholstery covered the kitchen’s Crate & Barrel stools in a faux suede from Rothman Associates. A light fixture from Addison House hangs over the quartz-topped island, and a blue Benjamin Moore paint on the walls gives the owner a dose of her favorite color. The appliances and Poggenpohl cabinetry were existing.

Gray Living Room with Miami View and Red Contemporary Artwork

A rug from Art of the Knot anchors the living room along with a custom coffee table from Reflections R Us, which Modern Day Upholstery sheathed in Maya Romanoff ’s wallcovering from Donghia. The rosewood chair in the foreground is by Therien & Co. Phillip Jeffries wallpaper warms the space, and a red sculpture by Joël Urruty stands watch.

Sun-Drenched Miami Terrace with Pool View

On the sun-drenched terrace off the guest bedroom, a chair by Janus et Cie offers seating from which to enjoy the view and a gentle breeze. The citrusy side table is from Asian Accents of Palm Beach, and the planter is from Jay Scotts Manufacturing.

Feminine Master Bedroom with Blue and Floral Patterned Fabric

Varying shades of blue appear again in the master bedroom. “The color under the bed’s canopy is stunning,” the designer says. “At night, the room is really tranquil. She’s got her books in there and a comfy chair. It’s like a girl cave. There’s a classic Baker piece in her bedroom that came with her from New York,” Martzell says, “but we purchased an Art Deco end table for her living room.” 
As lovely as the building’s elliptical shape is, it presented challenges. “The draperies had to run on a curve, and they’re all automated,” Martzell says. “You really had to be on your game.” But, thanks to
Peter O’Neill of Fine Line Contracting, the designer squared off certain rooms so furniture could be placed against the walls, and some ceilings were dropped to allow for new lighting.

The feminine master bedroom also was decorated in the owner’s favorite hue. The bed canopy, headboard and draperies were fashioned by Curtain Call and Modern Day Upholstery using a floral Zimmer + Rohde fabric from Ammon Hickson. The bedside table and custom TV cabinet are both by Araujo Cabinets, with the cabinet upholstered by Modern Day Upholstery. The Encore club chair by Holly Hunt was reupholstered in Sonoma Cornflower fabric by Groundworks for Lee Jofa.

Intaglio Prints in a Miami Master Bedroom

Prized works include etchings by her artist friend Carol Travers Lummus, with cheeky titles such as 'I Shall Succeed Despite My Advantages.' 

Intaglio prints by artist
Carol Travers Lummus form a gallery wall in a corner of the master bedroom against a Phillip Jeffries Bermuda Hemp grass-cloth wallcovering from Holly Hunt. The custom bedside lamp is from Artistic Plus and is one of a pair.

Brown and Orange Miami Master Bedroom with a View

While both embraced bold shots of color, Martzell had to gently nudge her client to approve one particular accent color in the guest room. “She told me that she loves chocolate brown,” Martzell says. “Well, I love orange. And she said, ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘Trust me.’ She did, and it’s fabulous!” 

Wolf-Gordon wallcovering provides texture in the guest bedroom, where the color palette shifts. Orange accents are seen in the chair by Taylor Burke Home, the Oomph light fixture and the client’s own bedding. Acrylic-encased logs form lamp bases from Currey & Company, which stand on tables by Made Goods. De Le Cuona sheers from Jerry Pair frame the view.

Folk Dolls from Worldly Travels

Displayed throughout the apartment are cherished artworks from the owner’s travels to Europe, Indonesia, the Far East, and other faraway locales. So, displayed throughout the apartment are cherished artworks from the owner’s travels to Europe, Indonesia, the Far East, and other faraway locales. “Folk art has always appealed to me. It’s whimsical and fun, and I’ve always been comforted by it,” she says, adding that she came to Florida after the loss of her eldest son and the ending of her marriage. “The wooden puppets at the entry foyer are called wayang golek, or wooden doll puppets. I acquired them on a trip to Java while visiting my son and daughter-in-law, who were living in Bali—they’re near and dear to my heart. They’re very old and very special.”

Upon leaving her life in Manhattan and the Hamptons, a lively New Yorker alighted in Miami with several suitcases and one dresser. “She was moving here because it was important to be close to her youngest daughter and her family,” says designer Laura Martzell. “She wanted a fresh start.” 

The owner found the quintessential Miami condo in a sleek elliptical-shaped building in Aventura with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Williams Island Marina and Biscayne Bay, complete with glass-railed balconies that further showcase the views. 

The first hit of saturated color can be seen right away on the doors in the elevator entry—home to owner's precious collection of wooden puppets—which were done in a striking sapphire using watercolors, acrylics and resin over an aluminum base. “We had the custom painting done right on the doors themselves, so that’s your introduction into the apartment,” Martzell says of Julia Alejandra Gentile’s artistry. “It’s killer!” 

Now settled in her new apartment, she says it feels truly her own. “When I went to college, my mother picked out absolutely everything down to the bedding. And being married, there was always someone else who was giving their input,” she says. “This time, I picked out everything, and I’m surrounded by things I adore. It’s a hoot, and I just love it.” 

Kimberly Olson