Scattered among the contemporary homes and high-rises of Miami Beach’s Venetian Islands are relics of a time gone by: the isles’ original residences, 1930s houses with interior features like arched doorways, scalloped moldings and curved stairways with wood treads. It was those very romantic characteristics and a dreamy flowering bougainvillea that drew designer Daniela Saliba’s client to one such 80-year-old structure.
Still, the aging residence wasn’t without its flaws. “The house needed updating. It had orange walls and dark wood on the ceilings. We needed to bring life back into it,” says Saliba, who had designed the homeowner’s South Beach apartment three years prior.
The client and Saliba determined the home’s new spirit would exude elegant coziness. But before the designer could introduce warm textures and punches of color, the residence required some structural changes to meet the client’s needs. The modifications included adding square footage and places for gathering as well as making respectful updates that honored the house’s history.
Architect and general contractor Carlos Figueroa began by expanding the second-floor master bedroom to accommodate a sizable closet. He also created more space in the nearby bathroom by relocating the vanity to the new dressing area. Enlarging the suite brought a few unexpected benefits to the façade: A roof was added to the entryway, and a covered loggia was created off the dining room. Barely discernible as an addition, the new entry mimics some of the structure’s period details, including stately columns, a wood ceiling and decorative concrete-cement tiles. “The home has beautiful architecture,” Figueroa says. “My design is based on what the house calls for and what the owner wants.” A pair of wicker chairs and a built-in bench further establish the welcoming feel.
Figueroa matched the roof on the addition to the residence’s barrel tile, replaced windows and doors and upgraded the electrical system. Inside, ceilings and most walls were painted white, and the cherry-wood floors received a darker stain. One last structural change occurred in the living room: The fireplace was removed, and Saliba hung a large mirror over a bench in its place. Reflected in the mirror is the home’s most striking feature: a grand gallery wall the designer curated of treasured collected items. “My first inspiration was a silk scarf with a self-portrait of the Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral,” she says. “The gallery is a mix of paintings, drawings, photos and objects.” Continuing the eclectic feel, Saliba outfitted the room with an aqua velvet sofa, round coffee tables made of reclaimed peroba wood and chairs reupholstered in a vibrant floral-print fabric.
The lively pattern on the chairs is a nod to the client’s love of flowers–and it’s not the only one. Using a mural wallpaper of large blooms, Saliba created an accent wall in a small sitting room. “We call this space the saleta,” she says. “It’s where the owner enjoys reading and appreciating the garden view.” Here, the designer installed a second smaller gallery wall, introducing new artworks that complement pieces the client had displayed in her former home. On a rug atop the house’s original Mexican tile, an Eames lounge chair and ottoman Saliba re-covered in light blue plaid fabric and a durable white sofa offer cozy seating.
Florals reappear in a paper mural Saliba framed and hung on a wall next to the oval table in the breakfast room. They’re also seen on the embroidered fabric used for a window valance in the kitchen, where the designer kept the Ubatuba granite countertops andupdated the original cabinets by painting them olive green. These choices were made because the owner didn't want the new kitchen to look too modern, Saliba explains. The window valance was made with an embroidered fabric from Wall Boutique.
But real flowers are found in the patio, where an alluring bougainvillea tree dominates. Saliba transformed the lush space into a casual social area by surrounding a rectangular outdoor table with wicker chairs topped by pillows in a botanical textile. “The idea was to create an area where friends could gather to have meals and celebrate,” she says.
Views of the outdoors can be enjoyed from each of the bedrooms, all equally lovely respites embellished with sheer draperies, white walls, wooden beds and nightstands. Soft hues impart serenity, and strategically placed artwork reintroduces a collected feel. It’s all reflective of the owner, whose style shines through each space. “The house is very her–it has her fingerprints,” Saliba says. “There is personality here.”