The Elements of Furnishings Notwithstanding, This Gables Estates Masterpiece is Driven by its Unique Wall Surfaces – And One Spectacular Ceiling
When interior designer Vincenzo Avanzato was asked to transform this property in Gables Estates, he recalls, the owner gave him carte blanche. “He said to me, ‘I want you to be Ralph Lauren for Florida.’ I took that as a way to express, to use a lot of innovative and different finishes, and to be creative rather than be run of the mill,” says Avanzato. “We can do a lot of things that clients want, but with finishes, and the artists we deal with, we can create something unique for them.”
And so began what Avanzato describes as a dream assignment, one that allowed him to create extraordinary wall finishes that layered paint onto plaster, and layered paint colors with finishes of white glaze that could be striated to create patterns that ghosted their designs and gave them visual depth. Avanzato was also given a free hand to search the world for just the right furnishings and objects. “What he told me was, ‘It is your job to find everything, it is my job to appreciate it.’”
The painted ceiling was done by European Décor of West Palm Beach to resemble a work of art by Chagall. “He [the owner] is an art collector, with pieces by Chagall. He wanted to portray the family in their tightness and closeness to each other. So, the scenes have a lot to do with family and children. And because they also like to travel, we use Paris on one end and New York on the other, and in the middle is the Venetian Pool and on the other side, London.”
The yellow walls are done with Mamorino plaster, which is a Venetian stucco, matte finished. The furnishings are deliberately casual, with couches by Donghia and a coffee table that is 19th century Chinese. Carrying the Chinese theme is the beautiful red veneer of the bar.
All of the sofas in the living room are custom made by Le Jeune Upholstery in Miami, and dramatically enhanced by an early (1956) painting by Colombian artist Botero. The chairs are Regency style, painted, from the UK. The two tables at either end of the central couches are Empire style reproductions from France, the coffee table is an antique reproduction purchased in Los Angeles, and the two red lamps are Mirano glass. “We put in the wainscoting and crown molding,” says Avanzato. “It was a complete renovation.”
The walls of the dining room consist of three layers: The background painted in yellow, then painted with a purple ’50s floral design, then overwashed with a white glaze that is striated. “It [the glaze] allows the images to almost soothe through the walls, as though they are there but not there,” says Avanzato. The side chairs are custom made, designed by Avanzato and crafted locally. The dining table is late 18th century English.
This small dining area is actually at the end of the formal dining room. “When we laid out the room, because it was so large and the kids were grown up, they wanted a place for intimate dining,” says Avanzato. “This is what we created in the bay of the window.” The dining couch is a John Saladino creation, with two reproduction Empire French chairs from Formations in California. The Venetian dress curtains atop are silk, while the dropdown shades are custom made from raffia palm tree fiber.
All of the wooden walls for the library were installed, refurbished panels from the UK retrofitted for the room and French polished afterwards for a high gloss finish. The painting over the fireplace is by Ferdinand Leger. The desk is an antique Empire style piece purchased in Hallandale, the rug an antique purchased in Dania. The reading chairs are Lucien Rollin reproductions in orange suede.
“They are exactly as they should be, because they are licensed to be made, in this case in Canada,” says Avanzato. “These days it’s a nightmare trying to find good reproductions.” The English round desk chair and the serving table were both found in London, while the custom silk curtains are embroidered and theatrically pulled back, using hardware from Houlès, in Paris.
With an original Renoir on the wall, this room is a study in yellow-green, where the color is essentially monochromatic but nonetheless resonates liveliness through its subtle variations. “For the wall finish we imitated an old silk wallpaper,” says Avanzato. “We painted right on the plaster, which absorbed a lot of the paint, and we did it in sections to look like wallpaper.”
The custom designed silk curtains, in granny smith green, are banded at the bottom to match the wainscoting, which was also installed. At the top of the window are natural raffia fiber blinds. The desk was custom designed, with a John Saladin chair and Mirano glass lamp. At the end of the bed is a Donghia chair, now rare; the headboard of the bed is cotton velvet, from Le Jeune Upholstery in Miami.