When Aaron Taber, a design principal at Fort Lauderdale-based Retro Interiors, received a commission to renovate the dark, dated interior of a condo on Fort Lauderdale beach, the goal was to transform it into a modern, sophisticated space with urban flair.
“The owners love city life, and they wanted to bring a metropolitan feel to their home even though it’s a beach place,” Taber says. “They wanted a style that was architecturally interesting and offered ease of living, but also some formality and elegance.”
Taber, who studied his craft at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, has been interested in interior design since he was very young. “When my parents would go on trips, I’d rearrange the furniture,” he recalls. “Now I enjoy the one-on-one contact with clients. I’ve learned many things, and I can be a bit fearless with new projects.”
First impressions are important, so Taber paid close attention to the private elevator foyer at the entrance to the home. He began by redesigning the ceiling with a coffer that added six inches of height. On the floor is a white onyx inlay outlined in brushed nickel and accented with brushed nickel cabochons in a harlequin pattern. The double doors have semi-opaque etched glass panes with an aqua cast, silver leaf accents and brushed nickel hardware.
A dark walnut console table with silver leaf detail and a white lacquer interior visible behind glass doors provides display space for elegant accessories like a nickel bowl filled with stainless steel spheres and faceted crystal spires. Above the table hangs a painting by Russian-born French artist Romain de Tirtoff, known as Erté, one of 30 in the owners’ collection. Flanking it are hand-blown blue crystal light fixtures with a silver-flecked bubble pattern mounted on silver leaf panels. “We wanted to highlight the beautiful piece of art and create a glamorous, metropolitan feel when you come off the elevator,” Taber says.
Beyond the double doors is the interior foyer, where Taber painted the wall with beige and taupe horizontal stripes. A neoclassical curved table with a mirrored back is finished with silver leaf and polished nickel. A square crystal chandelier with a silver leaf detail illuminates the space.
The combined living and dining rooms offer breathtaking views of both the ocean and the city skyline. Since it was impossible to raise the living room ceiling, Taber created architectural interest instead by suspending five independent floating panels of drywall. Lighting between and around the perimeter of the panels, and recessed lighting in the center, create drama. The pattern of a large wool and silk area rug in sandy and aqua tones mimics the action of a wave retreating from the shore. Window treatments are vanilla side panels highlighted by recessed lighting; blackout shades and traverse sheers are hidden in pockets above.
Twin sofas with dark walnut bases are upholstered in tone-on-tone vanilla chenille, while the dark walnut tables behind them have gracefully tapered legs and a reflective lacquered finish. Low, streamlined lamps on the ocean side have open bases so they don’t obstruct the view. A modern geometric Greek key pattern adds interest to cut vanilla velvet on matched chairs, and a small, polished nickel-and-glass table between them offers a place to set a glass of wine. In the center of the seating group is a glass double-shelf coffee table framed in silver leaf.
In the dining area, a dark walnut lacquered table has a pedestal base and self-storing leaves that can open to seat 10. Creamy woven fabric covers the backs of the walnut-framed chairs; the fronts are upholstered in chenille. Above the dining table, a chandelier with five square, silver-leaf-and-crystal fixtures suspended in a linear formation is a visual focal point.
To create a more open feel, Taber removed a wall between the great room and the kitchen, replacing it with a waterfall edge counter crowned with quartzite in tones of deep taupe, silver and bone. “It opened up the views from the kitchen,” Taber says.
A large island with brushed nickel feet and a bone-colored lacquered base, as well as a perimeter counter, are topped with the same quartzite. Above the island, a floating drywall panel that mirrors the island’s shape has both perimeter and recessed lighting.
Dark walnut cabinets with brushed nickel hardware in square and rectangular shapes and a glass-fronted china closet lend a sophisticated, urban feel. Appliances are also clad in dark walnut, while a backsplash fashioned from large glass panels custom colored to match the island’s bone base brightens the space.
The square, dark walnut breakfast table is next to a window overlooking sea and city views. Two walnut-framed chairs covered in the same chenille fabric as the fronts of the dining chairs create continuity.
Office and Card Room
In the combined office and card room, rich, dark walnut wall paneling with a brushed nickel inlay creates a cozy yet sophisticated ambience. A taupe-and-camel striped rug has the same octagonal shape as the room itself, while glass-fronted cubicles display a pottery collection.
The walnut game table seats four; each side has a drawer to hold cards. “The table is perfect for bridge, and they love bridge,” Taber says. Silver and taupe velvet with an octagon pattern to play off the room and rug shapes covers the walnut-framed chairs, and suspended above is a doughnut-shaped chandelier with crystal accents and a silver leaf frame and pendant.
Just off the living room is a media room, where a custom millwork wall unit finished in white lacquer and polished nickel houses a large TV screen. A plush sectional covered in woven chenille with a tufted back offers comfortable seating, while silk accent pillows with a geometric pattern add visual interest.
A leather-topped ottoman with a walnut lower shelf and polished nickel frame can serve as a coffee table. Hanging above is a silver leaf chandelier with crystal accents. A wool-and-silk transitional trellis design area rug adds softness, and a celadon green pottery lamp topped with a white silk shantung shade adds to the cozy feel.
In the master bedroom, the perimeters of ceiling beams mounted in square and rectangular patterns are illuminated for a romantic ambience. Silvery linen traverse draperies hang at the windows, and hidden pockets hold blackout roller shades and sheers.
In a change from the walnut in the rest of the home, the headboard and nightstands are made from afrormosia, an African exotic wood. Nightstand drawer fronts are detailed with a sunburst pattern and polished nickel pulls, and self-framed mirrors mounted on custom wood panels hang above them. Molded crystal lamps with silver frames have white shantung silk shades.
Silver and taupe Euro shams on the bed have contrasting cream flanges, and a pair of king shams have an organic pattern in blue, taupe and silver. There’s also a full-length taupe-and-silver neckroll pillow. Comfortable chairs with clean, modern lines are upholstered in a woven fabric, and a table between them has a polished nickel frame and an afrormosia inset top.
In the luxurious master bath, silvery vinyl with a striated pattern covers the top half of the walls; beneath it is glass-and-stone mosaic wainscoting topped with a white glass tile chair rail. Two ceiling coffers add architectural interest. Countertops are slab marble, and a large soaking tub has a dramatic silver and gray marble surround and a matching bench in front of it. A large shower defined by frameless glass panels connects his and her sides of the bathroom. Custom vanities and storage towers with opaque glass fronts are dark walnut, and the same dark walnut frames two large mirrors.
Any guest would feel welcome in this stylish and comfortable space. Walls are a relaxing beige, and a textured shag rug in a toasty sand color adds softness. The headboard on the walnut-framed bed is upholstered in creamy velvet with oval-shaped walnut overlays. A drum-shaped chandelier has a light diffuser to create a soft glow.
A modern take on a classic wing chair has graceful curves framed in walnut to play off the ovals on the headboard, alongside textured taupe and sand upholstery. A walnut dresser with brushed nickel pulls also has smooth curves, and oval shapes appear again in the silver leaf base of a floor lamp crowned with a white drum shade.
” I’m proud,” Taber says, “that we accomplished the vision my clients had dreamed about. “
An Urban Vision Accomplished
Taber successfully transformed the heavy, dated interior of the condominium into a sophisticated, modern metropolitan retreat, creating new architectural detailing and opening spaces to maximize breathtaking views. The home is now aesthetically pleasing, as well as comfortable and functional. “I’m proud,” Taber says, “that we accomplished the vision my clients had dreamed about.”