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Traveling Light

Regional Award Winner KDC 2006-2007

Downsizing and relocating to a tower in Coral Gables from Washington DC, a world traveler embraces the essentials and a timeless Asian spirit.

Friends, year-round sports-friendly weather and the time to pursue philanthropic activities are just a few of the attractions that led this media maven to adopt a home in Coral Gables. Views of water and downtown Miami from three sides of her 12th floor condominium gave this remodel a great start before Phyllis Taylor was brought on to ensure that the design and layout would work as well for everyday living as for entertaining family and friends visiting from around the globe.

Downsizing can be overwhelming task, so Taylor helped her client review artifacts stored in her traditional Washington, D.C. home collected internationally over the years, and honed in on the client's penchant for African and Asian baskets, sculpture and ikebana. Each collection was then scrupulously edited over multiple sessions. "She was starting a new chapter in her life," says Taylor. "We wanted to instill a sense of home, so it was very important to figure out her sensibilities. Asian basketry is unadorned, while African has pattern and form, so we decided to use the two and see where it led us."

Surfaces inspired by the basket weavings include a sliding-panel wall of metal struts with flexible wood veneer woven through that closes off the kitchen when serving formally. The marble backsplash was also applied in a 'woven' mosaic. Thick countertops and Japanese-inspired ceiling beams add a feeling of order and permanence. Above the breakfast table, a wooden mesh ceiling repeats the basket theme and also hides downlighting. "If you do something heavy with beams the ceiling beyond it seems to float, which visually increases the ceiling height," Taylor observes. Asian consoles add color, and the scale was perfect for them to serve as island ends. The range hood, Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer and Wolf 36-inch cooktop break up the warm woods with the clean lines of reflective stainless steel. 

The homeowner couldn't be happier with the new kitchen, where she cooks everything from holiday dinners and matzo ball soup to Latin and Cuban dishes. "Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove is the company that makes the best products—end of story," says Taylor. "I also recommend approaching a kitchen by first having a very strong foundation with a workable plan, appliances and finishes, and then having fun with the design of the backsplash, style of cabinets, etc. Efficiency is beautiful! You can always add the jewelry at the end, but you have to get the basic black dress right first."

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