Barbara and Jeffrey Rosenberg needed a makeover to realize they needed another.
In the summer of 2017, the couple moved into their newly renovated second home in Sag Harbor, NY, and were delighted to have a home that lived up to their every need and served as a formidable destination for entertaining family and friends.
So when they returned to their main home, a Delray Beach, Florida home that they bought for $ 2.75 million in 2005, they couldn’t help but feel a little downcast. “The moment I walked into our Florida home, I said, ‘This house needs renovation,'” said Mr. Rosenberg, 74, who has largely retired from a family-run real estate investment and development company he helped build . “We were pampered in Sag Harbor.”
The 7,760-square-foot house had been designed in a contemporary neoclassical style, and that didn’t feel right to her anymore. The coffered ceilings, the overused moldings, the decorative columns, the split light windows, the antiques – everything suddenly looked old.
They also wanted to correct years of annoyance, including the kitchen, which was strangely cramped given the size of the house – and hardly ideal for Mr. Rosenberg, who loves little more than cooking elaborate meals for guests.
“The kitchen was completely windowless,” he said, “so it had no natural light.”
Looking for a new vision for the house, they turned to Allen Saunders, a Miami interior designer who had designed a clean, modern home for their son in nearby Boca Raton.
Although the couple had specific ideas about what they wanted in the dining-oriented rooms – an extended kitchen, a large wine room, an Italian pizza oven in the backyard – they only gave Mr. Saunders one instruction for the rest of the house: “We want to go in and say: ‘Wow’ ”, said Mr Rosenberg. “We have literally said to everyone: ‘You have a license to do whatever you have to do.'”
Mr Saunders enjoyed the challenge and drafted plans for a down-to-earth intestinal renovation that changed the floor plan and gave the house an uncompromisingly modern interior with black, white and aubergine-colored details and lots of talking points.
The design turned a five-bedroom home into a three-bedroom home – a master suite, guest room, and bunk room for the couple’s grandchildren – with a gym, home theater, and plenty of space for entertainment.
Just beyond the main entrance is a living room centered around a huge chandelier with 55 purple hand-blown glass bubbles from Cameron Design House. “This is supposed to be a ‘wow’ feature,” said Mr. Saunders. “Jeff collects wine, so we played with this idea, with the color scheme, and planned almost like grapes.”
The living room is open to the dining area, where Mr. Saunders has installed two custom-made, high-gloss lacquer dining tables, one behind the other, for both intimate family dinners and larger gatherings. “We thought it was strange when four people were sitting at a huge table,” he said. “So we split the table in two: one that can easily seat eight or nine people and one that can seat four or five people.”
Above the tables, a light installation made of cast glass drops by ocher is also divided into two areas that can be individually controlled to illuminate a single area or the entire surface.
For Mr. Rosenberg’s show kitchen, Mr. Saunders designed a room with two islands: a busy one with black granite and butcher’s block counters for preparing food; and a slimmer 3-foot unit with curved ends, bronze-colored metal doors, and a calacatta viola marble top for serving. Three flush doors hide the refrigerator, freezer and the entrance to the pantry.
In the master suite, Mr. Saunders added other aubergine-colored details, including an upholstered headboard that extends almost to the ceiling, glossy lacquered doors in the bathroom, and tops of lavender marble with subtle shades of purple.
After the Rosenbergs had worked on the new interior for about two years, the Rosenbergs had Mr. Saunders redesign the outside area behind the house. There he replaced the round pool with a rectangular one, which was integrated into a new terrace, and built a wall of green and bronze glazed tiles that offers privacy from the neighbors and at the same time enhances the reflections of the water.
“I used the pool as a reflective pond,” said Mr. Saunders. “And this wall became a moving work of art.”
After about nine months of additional outdoor construction, the project was finally completed last year at a cost of about $ 2.5 million.
The couple were “completely enthusiastic” about the house, said Ms. Rosenberg, 72, and sounded slightly awe at how different it looks today. “We can’t believe it.”
The end result was worth it, added Mr Rosenberg, even if it took longer than expected.
“If you’d asked me during the construction process and we had to live in a rented apartment, we might have changed our minds about what we’re doing,” he said. “But anyone who goes through a renovation or a demolition and rebuilding goes through that.”
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