By: JEAN NAYAR
Designers Dunagan Diverio artfully meld indoors and out and old and new in a waterfront compound on one of Miami Beach’s most exclusive islands.
Star Island may be one of South Florida’s smallest neighborhoods, but it boasts some of Miami Beach’s most exceptional homes—many owned or rented by residents with very big names like Shaquille O’Neal, Rosie O’Donnell, Gloria Estefan, Don Johnson, and Kanye West. And a new 17,000-square-foot dwelling built by Todd Michael Glaser for developer Stuart Miller with interiors by Miami-based Dunagan Diverio, is among the island’s most compelling properties.
Situated on a 59,000-square-foot, pie-shaped lot overlooking Biscayne Bay, the contemporary abode fits neatly into one side of the site, while the 6,000-square-foot historic guest house, which was originally built in 1931 and once served as the Miami Beach Yacht Club, dovetails next to it on the other. Not surprisingly, the home was designed for large-scale entertaining with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living that maximizes comfort and sweeping views of the bay. “We love to tie the design story between the exterior and the interior together so the flow keeps going,” says designer Charlotte Dunagan. As such, the selection of materials—both inside and out—were key not only in connecting the indoors to the landscape, which was designed by Chris Crawly, but also in creating the connective tissue between the new structure and the older one.
“We’re very involved in all finishes and every detail,” explains designer Tom Diverio, who worked with Dunagan and the architects, DOMO Architecture + Design, to define elements of the exterior, such as a ribbed aluminum cladding near the entrance, which was powder-coated to look like wood, giving the home a sense of earthy texture while keeping maintenance to a minimum. Pale travertine stone cladding, cut in different sizes and laid in a vertical pattern on the wall of the other side of the entry injects additional texture and luxe appeal. Inside, creamy limestone covers the floors of the living spaces on the main level and leads the eye toward floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto the pool deck and spectacular water views beyond.
“The most challenging aspect of this home was the enormous scale of the rooms,” says Dunagan. “So we incorporated a lot of texture to create a sense of warmth and visual impact and bring a human scale to the interior spaces.” Among the materials that bring dimension to the living and private spaces are various types of woods—including a black oak slatted ceiling in the kitchen, walnut panelling and cabinetry in the dining area, and ipe in the outdoor cabana. “Lighting is also a big part of how we design, not only with sculptural fixtures but also with integrated recessed illumination that create different moods in different settings,” adds Diverio.
A mix of woods in a ground-floor office space also links the main house to a garden area that adjoins the historic guest house, which was literally moved from one side of the site to the other to create the most hospitable composition within the landscape. The designers went to great lengths to preserve the best of the original guest house structure, including restoring the lead mullions of its paned windows and hiring artisans to recreate the hand-painted motifs around the ceiling moldings in its two bedrooms and along the original wooden beams in the spacious gym. While the gracious staircase and parquet wood floors were also preserved, fresh touches, including grasscloth wallpaper and Carrera marble in the baths, bring the historic structure firmly into the present. “The bubble gum pink and sea-foam green tiles had to go,” says Diverio. “We needed to marry the old with the very brand new,” adds Dunagan. “Those volumes could fight, so we consciously tied them together in a way that was very charming and very unique and makes the visual story complete.”