DESIGNER TAKES AN EMPTY SPACE TO A NEW LEVEL OF RELAXED LIVING WITH MODERN FURNISHINGS
By Linda Marx | Photography by Gustavo Rojas
When Venezuelan bred architect/designer Alfredo Leon was commissioned to create the interiors of a waterfront apartment in the North Tower of Bal Harbour’s stunning St. Regis condominium last year, he was given an empty box.
The 1900-square-foot, two bedroom, 2 1/2 bath space with a 650-foot terrace overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway was new and indeed bare to the bones. It was intended to be the private residence of its cosmopolitan owner who comes from Caracas, Venezuela.
But before Leon had gotten too far along with his design concept, the client, who has a large family, changed her mind about the unit’s function.
“She decided I should create the apartment to be a casual vacation home instead of the sophisticated private residence we had in mind from the beginning,” explains Leon, who moved from Venezuela to the States 11 years ago and opened Ardecon, Inc. based in Davie, Fla. “So I Immediately went to work making it modern, casual and trendy.”
Leon, who has a degree in architecture and has taught design and theory in Venezuela, knew he would have to change the style of the furnishings that he had originally envisioned from big city sophisticated to a more casual waterfront motif.
The designer wanted the owner to feel like she was on the beach when she came to stay in her South Florida apartment. So he set out to find the newest and nicest materials on the market. He found coral stone from Turkey for the walls, and made the floors a polished French Vanilla marble in all white to resemble a white sandy beach.
“The floors are shiny which reflect the light, like a mirror finish,” he explains.
His overall design challenges were to make the space both trendy and easy going yet warm with a hint of wood. He wanted a cozy atmosphere and felt the mix of textures and colors with white would create that feel. He believed that even a hint of color–the client loves orange–could make this space feel comfortable yet refined.
For example, he used oak with darker woods (espresso colors) and grays in chair fabrics and on some walls. He felt the oak and gray would work well with coral stone.
In the living room, Leon made the dominant marble fireplace the focal point. Since this large room serves as a family gathering place as well as the unit’s entertainment center, he integrated the television into the fireplace. Using orange, gray, brown and white, the designer was able to incorporate colors that the client liked and also stick with his own theme.
“I added a large sofa and a daybed near the beautiful marble of the fireplace so the vignette became the pivotal point of the room,” says Leon.
He further felt the contrasting cold, sharp image of stainless steel via expensive scones flanking the fireplace would add more waterfront charm. Together with the textures and illumination, the vignette projects a symmetrical light, like a lovely sheer gown which looks amazing when the light shines through.
On one side of the living room is the dining area which makes its mark with rough and smooth materials that work well together. A modern chrome chandelier called The Mercury sets the stage for a dominant dining table made of wood. Functional, sharp and simple, it is surrounded by six chairs textured like a beehive in taupe to emulate the walls.
The master bedroom is a melange of stone and leather with dark espresso (wenge) stained wood (not colored). Little liners of stone go against leather creme which adds a touch of sophistication to the casual yet elegant room.
Leon added a small desk for a laptop, a side table, and a column in the middle of two glass walls covered with a shiny silk teal curtain system designed to work well with dark wood furniture.
“I put wood on the column with a television to make it look like a sculpture and add some serenity to a sharp design,” he explains. “In the sitting area are a pair of swivel chairs upholstered in a beautiful fabric that looks like Chenille but is really an earthy Matte.”
For the client, the designer made the guest room kicky, contemporary and girly. Wallpaper is modern, splashy and sparkly, and the low bed in light, off-white leather has a headboard. Next to the bed is a dark wood oval nightstand.
There are no bedside lamps; instead, he used a pair of hanging bolts that look cool and trendy for the times.
None of the condo’s three bathrooms were tiled when Leon started the design process. So he used a creative mosaic of stone and glass in all three, making each design significantly different. The master bath is created in green stone using the color of granite to match the mosaics. The second bath is taupe and designed in Carrera Marble with glass.
The powder room is a smashing mix and match of taupe, brown and burgundy, like a fall woods scene, and is definitely the showstopper.
The end result of his year-long labor combines casual and ease with elegant upscale living. When the client entered the finished apartment for the first time, her smiling face said it all.
“Her excitement read to me like a poem,” says Leon. “She was so happy with her new home that it made my hard work even more rewarding.”