BY LINDA MARX
Designer Carmen Alcaraz Gomes designed this South Beach condo in vivid colors of the owner’s favorite Hermès scarves.
Viewing the vibrant yellows, oranges, pinks and greens of the interiors in their 11th-floor South Beach condominium makes the Brazilian-based snowbirds who own it very happy. But when designer Carmen Alcaraz Gomes was commissioned to design their 2,400-square-foot, oceanfront digs, she had to overcome some colorful challenges. “My client loves color and vivid, exotic motifs,” says Gomes, of Cg1 Design in Miami. “I had to make her tone it down.”
The four-bedroom, three-bath residence is the second project Gomes has done for the couple and their two children. The Brazilian husband, who has a factory, and his Japanese wife, who owns optical stores, like to travel around the world and bring back their design inspirations from farflung countries. “The wife has a vision of high luxury and gets design ideas from trips to China, Dubai and other exotic places,” says Gomes of her clients, who visit Miami Beach every three months.
For this condo, which Gomes calls the “Crystal Palace” because of its windows on the ocean, the client handed her some Hermès scarves that she found in China. “She told me to design the apartment in the same bright greens and oranges,” says Gomes. “She wanted the apartment to look like her Hermès scarves.”
Gomes used her design talents to make the client happy while at the same time keeping the taste level intact. In six months they gutted the entire residence, which is located in a 30-year-old building and was in need of a facelift. The major challenges were the conversion of three bedrooms into four and the overall transformation of a 1960s-inspired design into a modern masterpiece.
Gomes made the walls a grayish green to go with the gray marble floors in the main area and with the wood in the bedroom. She also felt that a neutral wall color would work well with the client’s love for the colors of the Hermès scarves. Gomes designed recessed lighting throughout the condo, and since the owners like the modern Italian look, this lighting choice added a touch of chic. The new entrance has some 1970s touches coupled with Oriental furniture and gold accents, which the client also desired. A pair of authentic Hermès scarves framed above an Oriental console table introduces the family and their friends to what is ahead in the residence.
Leading into more of the public areas is a mix-and-match of modern furnishings with added Oriental touches. “You have to blend Oriental with modern furniture and color to make everything work together,” says Gomes. “The client likes a mix of different things, which on some days got frustrating for me. But it was fun to work out.”
The living room offers such unfettered views of the ocean that the family members feel as if they are seated outside when they are enjoying the space. Orange upholstered velvet chairs with gold metal legs create excitement. “I had three heart attacks when I tackled this room,” laughs Gomes. “It is edgy and crazy. I have no other client like this one. I added a gray sofa with custom lightly colored orange and yellow throw pillows to tone down the space. I am happy to say it now mixes and matches and blends well.”
The neutral dining room is completely different. It is minimalist and stunning, with all eyes on the turquoise sea that looks magnificent through the huge windows. A crystal Shonbeck chandelier hangs over the light lacquer dining table appointed with colorful plates that have an Oriental motif. “The clients entertain a great deal and love this room,” says Gomes, who framed another colorful Hermès scarf above the white console here. Since the wife loves to cook, the kitchen is also a favorite spot for the family. The room has recessed lighting and modern cabinets. Wild orange mosaic tile along the wall contrasts with the white quartz countertops and modern bar stools which finish the space with cool panache.
The private areas of the home repeat the wife’s penchant for pattern, texture and vivid color. For example, the master bedroom has a tropical theme, with royal blue wallpaper patterned with colorful Oriental flowers. Against a neutral headboard and layers of white pillows, the designer placed a pair of yellow throw pillows featuring parrots. “I wanted to keep a tropical look with parrots, flowers and a mix of pink and yellow colors,” says Gomes. “The crystal side lamps have a yellow base to match.” The master bath is created in white tile with blue shower bubbles portrayed as waves. The designer toned down the colors for this space to make it relaxing and soothing, a modern spa inspired bathroom with long white lacquer cabinets and clean-lined Hansgrohe faucets.
But the daughter’s bedroom could be the fall window at an Hermès boutique. The vibrant orange patterned wallpaper goes with the rest of the apartment, but Gomes made the bedding pure white with a vividly colored pillow rim to blend and balance the design. A yellow lacquer table separates the twin beds and pulls the clever design together with aplomb. The son’s bedroom is quite a contrast. Gomes designed it with a pair of white lacquer bunk beds set against teal and white striped wallpaper to emulate the ocean, which is visible from floor-to-ceiling windows. The children share a sleek bathroom with double sinks. The space is spare and designed in bright yellow with white striped tile.
In the guest bedroom, an entire section is covered in lively butterfly wallpaper. With a white backdrop, the butterflies buzz in pink, yellow and green playing off of a multicolored velvet stripe headboard. Gomes selected beautiful white linens from Pottery Barn. “Since my client loves butterflies,” says Gomes of this upbeat space, “I worked up an entire wall of them.”
The guest bath is another paean to the client who loves Tiffany jewels and the luxury retailer’s signature blue. Gomes designed the space in all white, including the shower tile, countertop, toilet and towels to resemble a diamond. She then finished with Tiffany blue cabinets that help create an overall soothing luxury.
The residence is a mélange of vivid color, Oriental-inspired patterns and modern design, with a few areas of sheer tranquility. The client was so happy when she saw the finished product that she thanked the designer many times. “I was also happy with the end result, because I am a perfectionist,” says Gomes. “I do what I have to do to be a perfectionist. When the residence was completely finished, I felt as happy as my client did. That is a good feeling.”