FLORIDA DESIGN’S MIAMI HOME AND DÉCOR

VILLA CONTENTA: A PALM ISLAND STORY – Sep 2016


If the interior elegance that simmers every turn in this sprawling Palm Island estate overlooking Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach, Fla., calls to mind Versailles, noble apartments in the 16th arrondissement or the playgrounds of the striking Madame de Pompadour, then your sensibilities are in line with the dream its designer had hoped to create. Corinne Sananes, head of the design department at Romeo Royal Gallery, is not only the designer of the 9,893-square-foot estate name “Villa Contenta,” she is the muse of Romeo galleries and partner of owner Claude Dalle, founder of the renowned showrooms and ateliers in Paris and Cannes that create an interior world of luxury, panache and enduring elegance.


Though the Mediterranean exterior of this manse appears vintage, this home was built in 2002. Opening its arms to the bay, it looks toward South Beach from a peninsula of fabled waterfront homes – one of which is the former villa of Al Capone. With wide balconies along the upper floor’s perimeter, Andalusian-style balconies of carved wood, and arched balconies from which a Juliet could call to her own Romeo, the pool and its grotto-like Jacuzzi spread southward in an area meant for magical entertainment.


Just through the front entrance, the living room delights as a place for reading and music. The owner’s Steinway piano sets the stage on one end, while matching sofas covered in a soft, ivory silk shape a conversation grouping on the other. As if a 17th-century drawing room had materialized, Sananes positioned gilded porcelain and marble table lamps, intricately inlaid bookcases, and her bespoke designs for draperies as if a reading by Voltaire were imminent. The arches, Corinthian supports for the dark beams, and the bank of French doors allow the formality to turn to fun.


The designer’s scheme for the dining room begins with extravagantly scrolled chairs, each covered in Lelievre’s fine stripes. The table, created by exacting artisans, is of mahogany and ebony from Sananes’ own design. From Romeo’s ateliers also come the wool area rug, imagined by Sananes, the chandelier, and the Noblis silk draperies that open to the gardens and the high sweep of Biscayne Bay beyond.

Even though the French royals knew how to live and to eat, the preparation of that cuisine may have been easier in this home’s magnificently streamlined kitchen. With cabinetry by Italy’s SCIC, the black marble countertops reflect light from dozens of cached lights and the sunny breakfast room beyond.


And while soft music may be wafting from the piano below, upstairs in the master suite, the owner asked Sananes to create a land of whimsy – exotic whimsy at that. In what has been described as a fantasy from One Thousand and One Nights, the tale told to the sultan by Sheherazade, the designer performed her own magic. Made from carved, bent, painted and lacquered wood, geometry is swirled and twisted into cabinetry, benches and a noble bed. Wrapped in a rich fabric from Rubelli in Paris, a plush chaise and regal bench are brightly bold, seemingly unable to rein in their exuberance before the Sananes-designed mural painted by Parisian artist Franck Foliaco.

Though one may not feel like dancing in the shower, it would be possible in the sumptuous master bath. Continuing the colorful cabinetry from the bedroom, the Roman-style bath overlooks the room like a stage while Romeo’s cylindrical wall sconces set the 18-karat gold fixtures to sparkle. Centering the space, a unique rainshower fixture permits the next best thing to outdoor bathing.



Choosing from a myriad of inviting options, it appears difficult to decide where to spend outdoor time. Reclining poolside offers the ultimate in relaxation as one end of the pool allows for a slow entry with a sandy mosaic floor to warm the toes. Yet it is at the far end, hidden by the rock formations and lush tropical flora, that fantasies can come true. With its own cascading waterfall, a private grotto allows for sun, shade and exclusivity.

From the rooftop hot tub to a volleyball court and more, there’s not a wish unfulfilled, nor a note of elegance missed. While it may be difficult to include all visions set to one person’s tastes, Sananes just may have made this homeowner’s dreams come true.

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