GRACIOUS ELEGANCE IN THE GABLES
CLOISTERED BENEATH A CANOPY of mature oaks in the tree-lined community of Rivera Country Club in Coral Gables, this 1920s estate features a portico, shuttered windows and double-decked porches that capture the historic charm of the Old South. A traditional white picket fence is a signature element in the neighborhood, which was developed as "The Florida Pioneer Village" by legendary real estate developer and Coral Gables' pioneer, George Edgar Merrick.
In a city known for Mediterranean-inspired estates, this home is "more akin to Charleston or Atlanta than to Coral Gables," says designer Bob Biederman, who collaborated with the owners to refurbish the interior. "It's one of an assemblage of homes that was designed and built in the mid-1920's by brothers John and Colton Skinner, using a Southern Colonial architectural theme."
The owners, an active, married couple with an energetic young son, "have a flair for entertaining, and the home is often used for charity events and social gatherings," Biederman says. "It's more Palm Beach than traditional with fresh, updated fabrics and bright, sunlit colors."
Throughout, Biederman outfitted each room with pieces to suit the owners' traditional taste and youthful lifestyle. "They're astute art collectors with a great sense of style and superb taste," he says, crediting the wife for inspiring the home's exuberant color palette and selecting most of the antiques throughout the home.
A refined sense of elegance satiates the foyer with a mix of contemporary art, centuries-old antiques and intricate architectural elements. The black-and-white checkerboard marble flooring is reminiscent of the 1920s elegance. Walls painted in a soft shade of yellow form a sunny backdrop for a predominantly orange painting -- the wife's favorite color. "The foyer set the tone for the entire house," the wife says. "It's inviting and gives guests a real welcoming feeling from the moment they step inside."
This elegant tone continues in the dining room with a spirited mix of patterns and textures. A chandelier centers above a mahogany table surrounded by Empire-style, black-lacquered chairs covered in a a Clarence House tiger-print velvet.
Just across the hallway, a coordinating palette of burgundy and gold, against mint-green walls, prevails in the spacious living room. "The inspiration originated from the burgundy and green silk we chose for the Nancy Corzine recamier, which we then custom matched to the wall paint," Biederman says. In addition to the recamier, a sofa and chairs from Rose Tarlow form a conversation grouping near cabinetry that displays objects d'art.
Vibrant hues come together in the family room with a Jacobean floral print drapery fabric and coral and yellow sofas and accent pillows. Unexpected touches, such as a seashell encrusted chandelier and zebra-print storage ottoman add a dose of whimsy.
In the husband's office, a calming hue of green swathes the walls, where a Louis XVI writing table from France, circa 1925 serves as a desk.
No other room exemplifies the home's rich personality more than the wife's study, where yellow silk-upholstered walls pose an elegant milieu for a collection of MacKenzie-Childs furniture.
Serenity prevails in the master suite with a gray-blue and camel color scheme. "We wanted a more traditional, classic look here; something very quiet and muted," the wife says. Biederman chose luxurious fabrics in tone-on-tone camel patterns. Across from the be, French doors open to a terrace that spans the master suite and the adjacent guestroom, where green and purple toile dresses the room.
The juxtaposition of contemporary art with antiques and newer pieces gives tradition a playful tone. "Our objective was to retain a sophisticated look that respected the home's heritage, yet was lighthearted and fun," Biederman says.
In the foyer, Hunt Slonem's painting, "Lories, 2000," offers a contemporary contrast to a William IV center table. Most of the millwork, including the scrolled detailing along the base of the stairway and the Palladian-style transom, was added in a previous renovation.
"The extravagant wall covering in the dining room
alleviated the need for any art in the area," the wife says
A mix of colors and patterns gives the family room a collected look -- such as the coral fabric from Bergamo, yellow fabric from Castel, zebra print from Kravet and Grey Watkins fabric on a Victoria Hagan wing chair.