A SUN DRENCHED KEY BISCAYNE RETREAT PROVIDES PANORAMIC VISTAS AND POP ART VIBES.
WRITTEN BY JESSE BRATTER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KRIS TAMBURELLO
It was the first thing the home owners purchased for their new Key Biscayne condo: All You Need Is Gum, by Michael Moebius: an oversized black and white portrait of The Beatles, with bandmates mid-bubble-blow.For one thing, it spoke to the husband’s love of music. But it turns out that the piece’s playful message set the tone for the rest of the residence—an openplan concept with comfortable furnishings, textural fabrics, a neutral palette, and pops of whimsical art.
“We wanted it to be tonal so that the views are the most predominant elements of color,” says Miami based interior designer Deborah Wecselman.Another important consideration for the homeowners? Wine, of course. The couple has a serious collection of vintages—and because they use this residence as a retreat when they vacation from their primary home in Mexico City, they didn’t mind turning one of the master bedroom closets (which happened to back up to a custom bar in the living room) into a wine cellar. And since the owners love to entertain, Wecselman chose a low sofa (a classic that she says will still be in style 20 years from now) so that her clients could engage with their family and friends while mixing a cocktail.
But perhaps the most important item on the clients’ wish list was accommodating their large family. Luckily, the unit is a floor-through apartment, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and Biscayne Bay and the city on the other. In between, natural light floods everywhere. With a wall of sliding glass doors that frame panoramic views, gatherings both intimate and large can easily spill out onto the terrace. And with five kids who each like to have friends over to gather, durable fabrics and furnishings were a top priority. So that sofa in the living room? It seats eight people. With multiple points of support, it invites them to put their feet up and sink in—even in their bathing suits. With one of the bedrooms featuring two side-by-side beds, and another boasting bunk beds plus a trundle and Murphy bed, accommodating all those kids became a breeze.
“Deborah knew what we wanted from our first appointment,” says the wife, who entrusted Wecselman so much that she worked with the designer mostly from Mexico (save for a trip to Florida to look at fabrics in person). “We wanted to entertain, to have a good time on vacation, but not be formal. We wanted it to be casual and comfortable.”
Wecselman kept the existing porcelain flooring, since it provided the perfect blank canvas.Together with Mike Aixala, president of Interscope Contractors, she painted, added millwork, and changed all of the hardware. “We gave the apartment a face-lift,” she says. “It was 15 years old and we made it fit the needs of the new owners.” As it turns out, Aixala has built out a few hundred units in the same building, so he was able to easily navigate challenges like adding two bathrooms (which can be a tall order in a high-rise).
Answering to their inner kids, the owners chose contemporary artworks (with Wecselman’s guidance) that are sprinkled throughout the 7,000-square-foot residence. There’s the crumpled Reese’s sculpture by Paul Russo, a pop artist whose influences point to Roy Lichtenstein and Dr. Seuss.
The splattered Campbell’s soup cans (transformed into cans of graffiti spray paint) in the breakfast area are by Tim West. A vibrant geometric sphere by Miami artist Andrés Ferrand has pride of place in one of the bedrooms. There are also porcelain figurines by Jaime Hayon for Lladró, and photographs taken by the husband who is a photography aficionado.
Still, Wecselman says, “we felt we needed to introduce some color in the design palette.” A little blue in the dining chairs here, a little bold stripe in the bedroom rug there, and Wecselman was able to satisfy the wife’s love of color without overpowering the condo’s views and the couple’s art collection. In the master bedroom, varying shades of blue wash over the area rug, pillows, and accessories against a crisp white backdrop that mimics the whitecapped waves just beyond the terrace. It’s the ultimate breath of fresh air. They say the third time’s a charm. Not only is this the owners’ third apartment in Key Biscayne, but it’s also the third time that Aixala has built out this particular unit (it seems serendipity played its own role in the design). Not to mention that Brigitte Nachtigall, Aixala’s wife, is the realtor who connected the owners to Wecselman in the first place.
As it turns out, The Beatles were right: you really can get by with a little
help from your friends.