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A House Undivided
Giannina Smith Bedford | Photo: Portrait by Nick Garcia | Interiors by Arquitectura Bentata | July 14, 2014
A family with a preference for open space appoints Arquitectura Bentata to pull down the walls—both literally and figuratively.
Moving to the ideal geographic location doesn’t necessarily mean moving into the ideal house. When a commercial real estate executive and his family relocated to North Miami Beach to be closer to friends, they settled on a home with a floor plan that was all wrong. The Mediterranean-style residence lacked a fourth bedroom to accommodate the family of four and the closed floor plan went against their love of flowing spaces for entertaining. The association of their gated community wouldn’t allow alterations to the facade, but Celina Bentata, principal of the Venezuela-based design firm Arquitectura Bentata, assured her clients that she could transform the divided interior into an open retreat.
“The clients were familiar with our firm,” Bentata says of the collaboration. “They knew that we work in a clean architectural style. There was so much harmony between us and so much respect, I have to say it really wasn’t a very difficult project.
“The houses in the area all follow the concept of closed cubicles with hallways,” adds Bentata, whose firm has recently taken on more projects in the United States. “Once they took me to the house and explained what they wanted—a space that was very fluid—the interior remodeling became a complete overhaul.”
The project took a little more than a year to complete and involved knocking down several walls. Downstairs, all the public spaces—a large formal living room, family room, study, dining room and kitchen—were arranged to gracefully flow into one another. “We did a continuation of space in the downstairs and in the upstairs. It’s like one big space divided only by the individual use of each area,” Bentata says. “We tried for everything—the floors and the walls—to be very simple, very modern, without special finishes or treatments.”
Today, just a few transparent sliding doors divide the kitchen from the dining room and the study from the living salon. The once-isolated kitchen was relocated from where the dining room is today to the back of the house and finished with white and gray marble countertops and limestone tile. Above the kitchen, the project team added the required fourth bedroom, increasing the floor plan to 4,780 square feet.
The ease of the endeavor was impressive, considering the resulting four-bedroom, four-bathroom home is a complete departure from its predecessor. Walk through the oversize front door and the first feeling is that of light, air and visibility—to the outdoors, the upstairs and nearly every open room. Muted grays and whites predominate, playfully mixing with vibrant art works from Venezuelan, European and American artists.
In general, the home’s warm modern look derives from furnishings from Addison House, including thoughtful touches of wood—such as the living room’s artful Ripples Bench by Toyo Ito. In the dining room, gray Calligaris chairs and built-in wood cabinetry surround a naturally finished Spyder Wood Table by Cattelan Italia. The hanging center point is a Venetian chandelier with green crystals that complement the colors in Carmelo Niño’s nearby painting. “Part of the work was placing the art in a way that would be appreciated without diminishing the architecture,” Bentata says.
The intriguing architecture continues with a staircase and L-shaped corridor—both lined with a clear glass handrail—leading to the bedrooms and an intimate seating area. A wall-mounted circular metal sculpture by Lucca Pozzi announces the entrance of the gray and white master bedroom where the custom bed is dressed in linens from Threadcount and backed by an accent wall of gray raffia-like wallpaper. To expand the size of the room, Bentata converted a balcony into a bay window and outfitted an inviting seating area with a chandelier from Specialty Lighting & Bulbs Inc. “It accomplished what one needs in a bedroom, which is serenity,” she says. “It is a very serene and tranquil room.”
In the children’s rooms, however, tranquility wasn’t the sole aim. The children took the reins in selecting the style of their bedrooms and bathrooms—within reason of course. Again, key pieces were sourced from Addison House. “Whether it was an extra bed for a friend or a computer space, whatever each one wanted was respected,” Bentata says. As a result, no two bedrooms or bathrooms are alike. The daughter opted for a room adorned in lilac-powered femininity—silver and lilac wallpaper, a baroque-style mirror and the Little Bird Deluxe Sleeper by Innovation to accommodate friends. Her bathroom is a mix of grays and whites with lilac towels and four multisize circular mirrors.
“When you understand the vision of the people who are going to live in the home, that is the most important part. Once you capture that vision, you understand what they really want, and from there, the project flows,” Bentata says of fulfilling the desires of the homeowners—young and old.
So how does the family feel about the home’s metamorphosis? They’re “very satisfied,” Bentata says. “What was accomplished was amplitude, fluidity in the space and a lot of spatial and physical blending. We didn’t want the feeling of isolation that comes from being in a room behind a closed door,” she adds. “It all flows and the formation of each space was accomplished with geometry.”
What Arquitectura Bentata also accomplished was placing the home in its geographic context—how South Florida breathes. “We made a home that adapts well to today’s Miami,” Bentata says. “Now I feel this house is perfectly located where it is.”
North Miami Beach
Dining room chairs*
Dining room table*
Little Bird Deluxe Sleeper in daughter’s room*, sofa in son’s room*
Maui desk chair in son’s room*
Lem bar stools in kitchen*
Specialty Lighting & Bulbs
Master suite chandelier
Master bed linens
Ripples bench in living room*
*purchased at Addison House