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See the Light
Susan Friedman | Photo: Craig Denis | April 11, 2014
An owner with buyer’s remorse enlists William Bernard to cheer things up.
The transformational task of brightening this seventh-floor, 3,400-square-foot luxury condo was no small thing. Owner Monica Teplis, the principal of Teplis Travel, had purchased her condo fully furnished, with finishes that seemed out of place for the tropical locale and ample Atlantic views. Enter Tony Ferchak and Lorenzo B. Mollicone, the duo behind Miami’s William Bernard Design Group. “The original design was full of heavy woodwork, dark granite in the kitchen and lots of gold and deep burgundy,” says Ferchak. “The change is dramatic.”
After spending weekends in her gloomy Mediterranean-style surroundings, and despite the influx of natural light from the glass surround leading to the balcony, the Atlanta-based owner knew she had to resolve her dilemma. “At first I was willing to overlook it, but it just wasn’t my taste,” Teplis says with a sigh. “The fixtures were dreadful, and the walls were painted brown. I could have never lived there permanently. Every time I flew in for a weekend, I would think ‘ugh’ when I opened the door. Now, it’s a breath of fresh air.” Or, as interior designer Lorenzo Mollicone defines it, with tongue firmly in cheek: “Miami kitsch mingled with Palm Beach chic.”
The home is located along a stretch of an inlet called Highland Beach, a town which sits on the west side of Ocean Boulevard (A1A) between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway. Teplis recalls hiring Ferchak and Mollicone after admiring the home of a friend who used their services. “I especially liked the fabrics and textures,” Teplis says.
The vision for the design came naturally. To start, Ferchak was motivated by the ocean view to paint the ceiling in the main living space a very pale blue. That choice turned out to be the key to what would come next. One of the first pieces the duo found for the living room literally reflects the outside. “It’s a 1980s coffee table with a Lucite base and a glass top,” says Mollicone, who has an affinity for repurposing vintage pieces. That impulse also includes integrating existing client furnishings. A perfect example of this inclination is Teplis’ carved wooden chairs, which were originally covered in brown and yellow cushions. Reupholstered in textural embroidered linen from Osborne & Little, the stripe in seafoam, taupe and white adds pop, while referring to the natural environment.
The living room’s vista pulls you in from the foyer, with its Saturnia porcelain tile, original to the unit. “There is a Key stone feeling that we liked, so it stayed,” says Mollicone. The designers revitalized “unspectacular columns,” turning them into a worthy gateway in and out of the living space by enhancing them with an architectural frame (they were originally plain, not decorative in any way). Mollicone used Greek key as a reference. A custom damask jute and silk-wool blend rug anchors the living room with sand-inspired softness. Clean, contemporary and beautifully done in a corresponding pale cream, the sofa has a gentle rolling wave-like back. “Its size and scale are perfect for the room,” Mollicone says.
The vintage Italian Murano chandelier paired with the Julian Chichester dining table create a design moment, especially when accompanied by statement-making photography. A full wall in the eat-in banquette nook is home to a black-and-white blow-up photo of a young man’s face. “I enjoy having coffee with him in the morning,” Teplis says, laughing, admitting she is a fan of faces. Hence the reasoning behind the ceramic sculpture on the oak chest in the entrance hall.
Here, in the foyer, the tone-on-tone wall stripes in natural cream and superwhite make the space feel expansive. And once again, a photographic flourish delivers joyous immediacy: An image of a purple orchid taken by Italian photographer Andrea Barbolini appears, and is reflected on the opposite wall, by a striking gold-framed mirror.
“The orchid is strong, exotic and represents Florida,” says Mollicone. The pretty matte lacquer vintage Klismos chairs on either side of the chest also pick up the floral motif. A photo in Teplis’ bedroom continues the gallery with a nude in sepia tones; it pairs immaculately with the Currey & Company mirrored writing desk.
The apartment is replete with reflective surfaces. “The great thing about them was that they could envision the finished product,” Teplis says, even when she couldn’t. Ferchak and Mollicone convinced her to say yes to the Osborne & Little metallic wallpaper for the powder room. “It wasn’t too glitzy after all,” she adds. The powder room is accessorized with a mirror that Teplis had already acquired; it mimics the tones of the wallpaper and sconces.
The mirrored front door and the custom-designed mirrored glass shelf behind the banquette celebrate the water and the light—and are a total departure from the dark design that existed before. “The ocean is always there, wherever you walk,” she says. “I can’t believe it’s the same place.”
William Bernard Design Group
Living room sofa, master bedroom writing desk chair
Accessories throughout, white side table in living room, table lamp in guest bedroom
Living room textiles
Chandelier in entrance hall, living room glass table lamp
Kitchen chandeliers, powder room sconces
Dining room table
Breakfast banquette in kitchen, textiles in kitchen and living room
Osborne & Little
Powder room wallcovering, textiles in living room and dining room
William Bernard Design Group
Upholstered living room lounge chairs in living room, dining room chairs, master bedroom built-in and A/V cabinet, guest bedroom bed