When an architect and designer converge, the outcome is doubly impressive.
By Virginia Gil
When tasked with conceptualizing a home flanked by lush greenery and waterways, it’s befitting that inspiration lie on the external. In this case, the muse was Gabriel Boano and Paula Lowenstein Boano’s home in Bay Harbor Islands—the first home of its type to achieve silver LEED certification and Florida Green Building Coalition Gold Certification. Interior designer Sophie Cohen and architect Jaya Kader Zebede were specially selected by the couple, who own Art and Tec, a development and construction company, to carry out the project of a sleek, modern home from start to finish. “It was incredible to work with them, Paula Lowenstein has amazing taste,” says Cohen about the third project she and Zebede embarked on collectively. Cohen and Zebede have a project in Costa Rica and are currently working together on a project in Golden Beach.
Upon Lowenstein’s request to incorporate a look that would be timeless, modern but still inviting, Cohen incorporated elements that would be striking, yet appealing, into the often-sterile minimalist style of modernism. Part of achieving warmth was remaining consistent. Cohen explains “I like using the same materials throughout different parts of the home thus, once we determined walnut wood would be used for the front doors. I decided to bring the wood all through the kitchen as an accent.”
The kitchen was designed as an open space that would be visually concordant with the adjoining living room and dining room. Incorporating gray limestone into both the hallway and the kitchen helped to seamlessly integrate the overall feel of the surrounding. Consequently, subtle touches of white lacquer, wood and limestone achieved to unite each separate space. The design renders the adjacent areas harmonious but still allows each room to preserve its individuality. The master bathroom is also an exercise in the utilization of recurring design elements, which features neutral tones juxtaposed by gray limestone and stark white cabinets that appear to be floating in space.
The oval bathtub Elise, from Whirlpool, was thoughtfully positioned to make the most of the room’s breathtaking, panoramic view. On sunny days, the rays beam through and shine against the iridescent crystal porcelain used to cover the walls and mirrors above the sink to give the illusion of vastness.
In the upstairs area—where the office and guest bathroom are situated—Cohen also incorporated the walnut wood as a way of bridging the bedroom and bathroom. In the girls’ bathroom, she added brightly colored mosaic tiles to the accent walls. The bathroom is illuminated with the use of a solar tub that during the day gives off natural light. Though conceived and executed by numerous hands, the Boano- Lowenstein home is in exercise in synergy. “I very much believe that when a home is well-designed, the interior falls into place as an expression of the architectural vision,” confesses Sophie Cohen. “I don’t believe interior design and architecture is separate—one is an extension of the other.”
For Kader Zebede, materializing the couple’s vision meant immersing herself in the world of modernism. “I was always fascinated by modernism and this was the first modern expression that I really developed, which I was very excited about. They had the vision of a purely modern home and I executed it,” says Kader Zebede. The architect’s personal’s style, involved fusing the surroundings with modernist principles. “The landscape definitely inspired me—how to bring the outdoors in and the inside out,” she says.
Juxtaposing the different planes, which forms part of the language of modernism, was not without limitations. The result is the melding of two volumes: a heavy stone wall to the right and a lighter wall lifted by glass to the left, which takes you from street view all the way to the water in back. Building on such a narrow lot proved challenging for the front-facing parking garage, which dominated the front of the house. Bringing the structure forward and altering the doors not only mitigated the problem but also earned the architect 2008’s Unbuilt Merit Design Award from the AIA Florida Chapter.
When it came time to translating the architectural vision to the interior design of the home, Kader Zabede instinctively turned to Cohen and her company, Elements + Design. “I believe architecture and interior design are an extension of each other and I think Sophie is very talented in bringing that image of modernism into the various microcosms of the home,” says Kader Zabede.