Infinity Rug

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I’ve worked on several projects that feature infinity pools, and my first thought as I surveyed the Atlantic from the terrace of my cousin’s apartment in Miami was to choose an “infinity rug”—the aqua tones of a hand-knotted asian rug against a monochrome palette would bring the vast ocean right into the room, just as an infinity pool blurs the horizon.

Atop this foundation is a low leather sectional, with cushions that move up and down for comfort, complemented by a cantilevered, travertine and wood laquered table that seems to float (that ocean, again) above the floor. Pride of place goes to a concert grand piano—the husband is a musician—and an integrated sound system brings an unlimited selection of music to every room. The walnut swirled dining table expands to seat fourteen, and the bowed seats are walnut backed. A Calder-like chandelier hovers over the table. The kitchen was redone in deep wood to echo the display cabinets in the living room, with a sleek look and minimal hardware for a distinctly un-kitchen like feel. Nevertheless, a 42” inch fridge, 36” inch cooktop and double oven and microwave makes this relatively compact space fully functional.

I spent several days last weekend placing art and accessories, and making a list of final touches for my next trip. But the apartment is near enough finished to be eminently usable, an ocean front space that is at one with the sea.

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Overcoming Vertigo?

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I have a love/hate relationship with breathtaking views. Working on the Miami apartment helped me conquer the hate part. Here I am doing something I wouldn’t have thought possible: staring down over the railing hundreds of feet above the Intracoastal waterway and the endless Atlantic, without my legs turning to jelly. Next stop: the Grand Canyon terrace with the transparent floor.

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Gallery Space

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A major architectural feature of the Miami apartment is a long hallway with a series of mahogany straight arches connecting the living/dining areas to the bedrooms. In the before picture you can see how claustrophobic and almost institutional the hallway was. I knew we had to open up the space as well as giving it a purpose. The purpose is a gallery, housing groups of themed images from my cousin’s collection. To combat the cramped feel I replaced the intrusive sconces with slim, flush fitting bronze pieces, and the suspended circular spot lights with simple glass ceiling fixtures. For subtle visual interest, I painted each succeeding section of the hallway a slightly darker tone of the same hue.

While the hallway is still primarily the way to get from point A to point B, at least the journey is a more pleasant one.

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Family Tapestry

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Once the larger pieces in the Miami apartment were in place, we embarked on a puzzle of monumental proportions: arranging over a hundred family photos into a collage-like presentation. We started by placing the mix on a large quilted pad, pulled the pad to the designated wall, and the games began. The better part of four hours later, the pieces were all in place. The finished tapestry weaves together the multiple strands of the family into a unified, living history, the past and present merging together, the future yet to be written.

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Low Light on the Ocean

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My cousin tells me that as the sun sets in Miami they often keep the lights off in their apartment, staring out at the horizon. From their elevated vantage point the ocean and the sky create a peaceful, soothing effect, and even the interior and furnishings are experienced differently.

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Sleek and Timeless

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A closeup of the dining area in the Miami apartment gives a good view of the walnut table’s plinth raised on a platform base. Two leaves open up the table significantly for the large gatherings my cousin is known for. Like modern sculpture the pendant chandelier hangs from two cables. The buffet features a checkerboard pattern of tiger maple veneer. The backsplash and counter top in the kitchen visible on the left are done in identical light Caesarstone. Along with the clean, dark cabinets and super thin induction cooktop, the result has little to do with conventional kitchen design. The piano lends a timeless note to the proceedings, it’s black lacquer fitting well with the other wood tones.

I’ll have the pleasure of sitting at the expanded table this Thanksgiving to witness the apartment’s debut as gathering place for our family. It’s been a privilege and a joy to be responsible for the design.

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The View

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The design of the Miami apartment began with the view from the 24th floor: the Intracoastal waterway, a community of luxury homes directly ahead with dramatic high-rises on either side framing the endless Atlantic. Not a bad place to start.

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Papering

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In the beginning phase of a new job and the paint and wallpapering is largely done. Without much in the way of furnishings you can see the impact well-chosen wallpaper can have.

In the foyer the light tones of this charming paper featuring bark and golden pears  has the feel of an enchanted forrest.

In the bedroom the large wall behind the bed needed a shot of color and pattern. The wheat tone works with many colors, and the charcoal pattern, like the swirls of an arabesque, definitely catches the attention.

 

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Hidden Gem in Montclair

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I’m working on a lovely cottage-like home in Montclair that reminds me of old world Europe. A short semi-private road leads to a hidden driveway. Echoes abound of the Latin Quarter in Paris or Hampstead in London. Or perhaps a pavilion de chasse (hunting lodge) in the Loire Valley. It has three levels, with charming nooks and cozy, comfortable rooms. Construction is stucco, and the mansard roof and arched windows are all nods to classic design. French doors lead to a secluded patio area, surrounded by lush grounds. Then there’s the Koi pond in the photo, the burbling fountain providing a soothing sound track to this idyllic retreat.

More to come as the design proceeds. 

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Orangettes

Orangettes

My brother in law—a notorious dessert lover—is arriving with my sister this week from Paris. I chose one of his favorite treats to welcome him: orangettes. These are small pieces of orange rind that are blanched multiple times over several days to take the acidity and toughness out, cooked in a water/sugar mixture, let rest until they become transparent and finally dipped in melted chocolate. The combination of candied orange and dark chocolate is hard to resist.

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