SOUTH FLORIDA HAS LONG BEEN a snowbird favorite, luring people to return year after year, generation after generation. Since 1994, Retro Interiors has become one of South Florida’s most established and respected interior design firms, offering custom interior design services for new construction and renovation projects alike. Its designs continue to be acknowledged both locally and nationally for their creativity, diversity, quality and degree to which they reflect their client’s vision. Retro Interiors’ ability to listen, combined with its design expertise and meticulous attention to detail, are just some of the reasons the owners of this unique South Florida penthouse chose the firm to bring their elegant beachside vision to life.
Located at Fort Lauderdale’s sought-after L’Hermitage condominiums—almost 30 magnificent stories above ground—is a 5,800-square-foot unit meticulously designed and renovated by interior designer Aaron Taber, with the assistance of colleague Jarett Beckman. Built by contractor Jeff Snyder of the Oak Group, with job foreman Jorge Hernandez, the residence offers stunning ocean views complemented by a deep wraparound balcony with spaces for entertaining and other outdoor activities.
“As the designer of the residence, my main goal was to create a warm, elegant beach retreat for my clients,” says Taber. “Given their primary residence is in the mid-Atlantic region, I wanted to really bring out the laid-back South Florida warmth and exude coastal elegance.”
The project first came about when the owners viewed a penthouse project Taber had recently completed in their condominium complex’s sister building. They were beyond impressed with the workmanship and attention to detail.
“Every project is different and custom-tailored to each client’s needs and desires. I pride myself in truly listening to my clients. In this case, creating an elegant transitional interior was my goal,” says Taber.
As you first enter, your eyes are immediately drawn to the panoramic views of the sea and calmness of the textures all around. The floors, originally a Crema Marfil, were changed to a 24-by-24-inch Silver Shadow marble to create a lighter, airy feel.
The mirrors and Hudson Valley sconces in the foyer give the illusion of floating light and a wider hallway. “We wanted to create a formal entry starting point without sacrificing any
of the ocean and coastal views. We designed a custom millwork divider that allows for an object of art and kept the area open, with the ocean as a focal point,” explains Taber.
As you move along the open-style layout, the classic textures and easygoing elegance exude between the living room and dining area. A custom-designed pale blue-and-white rug by Retro Interiors complements the couches from Hickory Chair Furniture Co. Rubbing shoulders with the media room, the sleek Samsung TV and Sonos speakers seem
to almost disappear in the custom wall unit.
“I wanted to have a light and fresh feeling in here,” says Taber of the palette of white and pale blue in the living room. “When designing oceanfront properties, I like to bring the colors of nature inside the home, as it creates a sublime sensory experience.”
One of the most important features for the clients was an open living space, allowing an intersection of luxury living and entertaining. The living spaces were carefully highlighted with custom architectural ceiling designs and lighting. As you shift your eyes over to the formal dining room, the regal chandeliers from Currey & Company match the ever so elegant Hickory Chair Furniture Co. dining room table and chairs. The silver details on the walnut finish Hickory Chair buffet add a modern touch to the dining space. An oversize oil on canvas, titled Beach Dunes, by artist Younok Kim and commissioned from Paul Robinson Fine Art, creates the perfect flow of colors among the neutrals.
The kitchen was completely gutted and redesigned by Retro Interiors. “We wanted to keep the kitchen open to allow ocean views, regardless of what time of day it was, from cooking to having breakfast or evening cocktails. At the same time, we know how important it is to allow privacy when entertaining, which is why we designed custom glass pocket doors to the entrance—again never sacrificing ocean views for functionality,” says Taber.
The large kitchen island conveys a sense of elegance and sophistication. Made of walnut cabinetry and Cristallo Extra quartzite, it features a white background and fine gray veining. The main counter and stunning backsplash are Fantasy Brown quartzite, with a swirling mixture of white, brown and gray veins and a black spot throughout the pattern. The white lacquer cabinets and Wolf stainless steel appliances are the perfect complement to the island, which serves as a casual breakfast nook, with stools from Hickory Chair.
Heading back to the private rooms of the residence, a restful and serene transitional home office features a thoughtful mix of contemporary and modern, with punchy flourishes that together evoke the art of brilliant combination. “Previously a guest room with an outdated Murphy bed, we transformed the room into a home office. The flooring was changed to the 24-by-24-inch marble seen throughout the home. The custom-designed millwork made by Wood & Art Custom Millwork and the Hickory Chair upholstery were the perfect touch of texture. The art collection is the client’s own,” says Taber.
Moving over to the master, the bedroom provides the same sense of calm and serenity seen throughout the residence, with floor-to-ceiling views of the Atlantic Ocean and custom window treatments by Retro Interiors. The floors were swapped to a walnut hardwood flooring complemented by a rug in pale blue and beige by Jaunty in Los Angeles. The John-Richard chandelier that hangs from the ceiling creates an elegant feel together with the Hickory Chair matching mirrors on either side of the headboard by the same company. The added sitting area provides a more casual place to kick back and relax. The cabinets in the master bath were also custom designed by Retro Interiors and fabricated by Wood & Art, and the standalone soaking tub from Ferguson provides the ultimate place to relax.
The adjacent guest room also offers the same walnut hardwood flooring, with brown and beige neutral tones throughout the room. A Henredon headboard pairs nicely with a Hickory Chair armchair and Retro Interiors’ custom curtains made by GK Window Treatments.
The residence proves to be a beautiful balancing act, marrying old and new, in both the furnishings and the architecture. “It gives us a great deal of pride to see each design project come together. But nothing makes us happier than seeing the look on our clients’ faces when we present the final product,” says Taber.
Carolina Ramirez Herrera is an art- and design-obsessed travel and lifestyle writer, who often contributes to blogs, city guides and lifestyle publications, sharing a page from her little Black Book of personal travels. Based in Miami but usually on a plane, follow her on @Lacarolinda.