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On the Waterfront

For Terra Group developer David Martin, his family home on the bay is not about having more, but about being more.

The Martins on one of the house’s several built-in window seats

The home of developer David Martin and his family is positioned on an enviable lot on San Marino Island.

In the master bathroom, sea-green piazza tiles reflect a sense of place

The turret makes for abstract shapes and open space

The family room features the deep seating of Ralph Lauren chairs and a sofa

Christina Martin’s love of black-and-white is evident, and offset by a decorative mirror. 

Martin agrees that his home is “rustic, modern and comfortable.” A Ralph Lauren runner hugs the spiral staircase.

 White columns that border the kitchen continue the vertical lines that occur throughout the home

The tongue-and-groove walls, intended to convey a beachy feeling, are ubiquitous in the Martin home.

The Martins had the dining table made from a slab of wood. Dining chairs are by Maria Yee.

A total interior renovation left the grandeur of the home intact. The Martin home gleams against mature landscaping.

Stripes and black-and-whites find their way into son David Antonio’s sunlit room

The Martins’ four-poster Maria Yee bed, which sits under a wood-beamed ceiling, is flanked by tables from Artefacto

We’re catching David Martin at an auspicious time in his life. As the president, co-founder and owner of Terra Group, one of the leading developers in South Florida, David has changed the face of this city like few other residents. Together with his father, Pedro, the chairman and CEO of Terra Group, David has watched the family company become synonymous with ambitious skyscrapers, such as Miami’s 900 Biscayne Bay and Quantum on the Bay, and Metropolis in Dadeland.

But more intimate family matters are on David’s mind these days. He and his wife, Christina, welcomed their daughter, Colette, in August, and his thoughts run to the ways in which their San Marino Island home is, and will continue to be, “conducive” to his growing family (son David Antonio is 3). The six-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath Mediterranean-style house is the product of David and Christina’s personal vision of what family life, lived on the water, should mean. And it is as carefully curated and thoughtfully envisioned as the glittering Terra Group skyscrapers that epitomize Miami style.

We quickly agree that the hallmarks of the house are “rustic, modern and comfortable.” It wasn’t always so. David remembers when he bought the 4,800-square-foot home, which sits on a 12,000-square-foot bayside lot: “It used to be a bunch of designated rooms, a bit of a maze.” Rooms were shut off from the water view, and the home didn’t “breathe.” What was required was a gut renovation, and, in 2006, as Christina collaborated with renowned interior designer Sam Robin for the duration of the yearlong project, what began to emerge was a flowing space that embraces the outdoors and encourages family togetherness.

There would be no room for pretense or fashionable austerity. “For a second or third home, I might do something different,” David explains, “but for a primary home, it just fits.” For her part, Christina “wanted our home to be very original and not like everything that’s out there.” This confidence resulted in a home whose accessible tone is set by numerous examples of oversized seating, by nooks and a central turret that make room for window benches, and by tongue-and-groove woodwork and beading that lend the walls the type of beachy feeling that the Martins noticed and appreciated in seaside resorts.

Christina loves black-and-white, but is nevertheless attracted to natural tones and textures. Sofa frames, as well as rugs and runners from Pottery Barn and Ralph Lauren, are woven. Similarly, the master bedroom’s rustic/modern aesthetic is evidenced by a wood-beam ceiling and a four-poster bed, choices that are echoed by wooden dressers from Artefacto. “I don’t like homes that are too modern because they seem cold and uninviting,” Christina says. “I like mixing different pieces to create a warm, welcoming and comfortable environment. For me, each piece in the house has a soul, and it’s about bringing it all together and making it work. The idea is that every space allows you to be able to sit and hang out.”

Where, and how, the family sits is a frequent refrain. Deep sofas and ample, tufted chairs appear in the downstairs living area, as well as in the master bedroom above. They are all by Ralph Lauren. “It was important that we stay comfortable, rather than stark and minimal,” David says. “[Deep seating] is right for us, for the way we live.” He adds that “multiple chairs spread out or multiple smaller sofas” wouldn’t work for his family. “We lounge with our kids and each other. We take naps. The furniture is conducive to the way we live, having the family be together. My son, my daughter, my wife—we cuddle in these bigger sofas, and we prefer them.” The layout of the master bedroom—with the bed and a family area divided by a swivel TV that serves as a kind of abbreviated wall—affords flexibility and privacy to David and Christina, while still serving as an accessible space to the entire family.

Perhaps the feature of this Venetian Island home that most captivates David is its enviable setting on the water. He says that a trip to New York or any “dense, urban environment” reminds him of how essential it is to value “the importance of the ocean, our ecology, our evolution as a people.” This was the mindset that inspired him to open up the house to allow water views from nearly every corner, and even why he insisted on sea-green glass piazza tiles in the master bath.

“Leonardo da Vinci had this fascination with water,” David says. “He called it ‘the vehicle of nature.’ Our company tries to create environments that enhance people’s lives. So the question is: How do you go about doing that? Why is proximity to the water so important?” David explains that Glass, Terra Group’s latest project, was conceived with one unit per floor in order to capture 360-degree views—of the city, the port, the ocean—in a single residence. “There’s a sense of peace you get from being close to the water. It gives you a mental focus. When you stand at the water, you’re dreaming. You’re thinking. People don’t just want to have more—they want to be more. There’s something spiritual about water that da Vinci was focusing on, and it makes sense.”

Design Details

Single-family home

Miami Beach

Interior Design
Christina Martin
and Sam Robin Design


Bedroom tables (

Farrey’s Lighting & Bath
Bathroom fixtures and chandeliers in bathroom and kitchen (

Maria Yee
Four-poster bed and dining room chairs (

Miami Awning
Outdoor canopy (

Pottery Barn
Living room rugs (

Ralph Lauren
Living room sofas and ottoman, staircase runner, tufted brown chairs, master bedroom linens (

Restoration Hardware
Outdoor seating (