Until recently, a French Canadian couple looked forward to spending a month or so on their yacht in Fort Lauderdale to escape the winter’s wrath. It had been the perfect plan for 14 years, until one day—while cruising along the Intracoastal Waterway—they spotted a condominium, complete with a dock, for sale. Within a few months, they had purchased their new residence and began the adventure to make it their own. “We already knew the area and wanted to spend more time here,” the husband says. “Our priority was the view and the proximity to the ocean, a five-minute walk away. The residence is in a very nice locale, close to restaurants and shopping, which we enjoy. And it gives us the space we need to accommodate our children and grandchildren, as well—also our priority.”
The one aspect that did not suit their taste was the interior. So they began a quest for someone who would understand their vision and were won over by interior designer Joseph C. Fava’s collaborative approach. “Clients hire us to utilize our expertise to fine tune their vision,” says Fava. “With this couple, it was clear from the beginning what they were looking for, and the fine-tuning came into play as we took shopping trips together and presented ideas.”
The overall concept was to create a space where the fabrics and wallcoverings were neutral and where color would come from both the art and the breathtaking water views. “We wanted a contemporary atmosphere, refined in natural shades with a warm appearance,” says the wife. There was just one hurdle the three had to overcome: Fava does not speak French nor are his clients particularly fluent in English. “In the beginning, there was a lot of pointing,” muses Fava, noting this just made for a more interesting, enjoyable exchange.
Fava worked on the project over the course of two years, which included five months of downtime while the couple tended to business commitments in Canada. “They own a chain of grocery stores, and they were expanding the business at the same time we were renovating their new home,” he says. Originally, the plan was to make only cosmetic changes to the rooms and bring in furnishings and art. But once new marble flooring tiles were installed throughout, the dated elements became really noticeable. Plans soon changed, and the kitchen was added to the list of major renovations, as were the master and guest bathrooms. Fava designed these changes with Stephane L’Ecuyer from IDEA serving as the architect of record.
The 3,500-square-foot residence sits on one level with a massive rounded-glass wall running more than 100 feet and offers painterly water views from nearly all of the 13 rooms. The master bedroom and bathroom sit in a separate area off to the left as one enters, and the other rooms are off to the right, including two other bedrooms, a den and a home office. “The previous look of the home was neoclassical with lots of black lacquer moldings,” Fava explains. And since the main public rooms—living and dining areas and kitchen—all open up to each other, it became even more obvious that the kitchen had to blend in with the roomscape, as well.
Today, a lustrous island and backsplash along with taupe lacquer cabinetry present an elegant, sleek and minimalist kitchen that works perfectly with the new design. Weaving unusual pieces into the great room, such as a vintage metal sculpture on the wall, made for an eclectic, visually interesting space. “The homeowners requested a sleek and monochromatic design, using color through art and accessories,” Fava says. “Due to the open floor plan, we specified taupes, grays and walnuts throughout to keep a cohesive aesthetic, and selected everything together, including the art.” For example, a vignette was created in the vestibule leading to the office to showcase a quirky piece by Canadian artist Raphaëlle Séguin.
Another major renovation came in the master bathroom. Wrapped in cream-and-gray polished marble, it’s an elegant and subdued space. The walk-in shower enclosed in a seamless glass box, a wall of mirrors fronted by cream- colored lacquered cabinets and an oversize tub all make for a mini-spa within the master bathroom. A lush earth-toned rug adds another level of comfort, as does the vintage Lucite-and-chrome bench.
Leather and suede furnishings, including the sofas in the living area and den, as well as the bed in the master bedroom, were chosen for their no-fuss functionality and comfort. “The owners wanted something sleek and durable that could even withstand grandchildren in wet bathing suits,” Fava says. The living area’s coffee table with a reclaimed-wood base and the nearby walnut- veneer walls give the contemporary space an organic feel. When wallpaper was chosen over paint for select rooms, Fava favored designs by Phillip Jeffries, Atrium and Romo, which wrap the walls of the foyer, office and guest bedroom and bathroom, respectively.
For the dining area, the low-backed sculptural chairs and clean-lined concrete table allow the immediate water views to take center stage. “We wanted something industrial and loved the lines of this table,” says Fava. “To soften the space, we used white leather chairs with walnut legs to tie in with the wood walls.” The designer’s decision to have sheer draperies sheath the glass wall helps reduce sun glare without losing the essence of the view. Recessed lighting, sconces and chandeliers bring direct light to specific areas, and the absence of table lamps keeps the look clean. Fava’s sculptural lighting choices add yet another level of art to the space.
Being on the first level with the clients’ own outdoor space makes this feel like a private home, which suits them just fine. “Now that we live here and love living here,” the husband says, “we are thinking of selling our boat.”