Biscayne Bay Waterfront Home

 In Interior Design

A classic waterfront mansion located on Miami’s Biscayne Bay gets a spectacular redesign and expansion that maintains its architectural integrity while completing it with a clean, contemporary finish for modern living.   The stately look of this traditional design 1940’s brick front exterior set back formally beyond the property’s canopy of twelve grand oak trees, is the only thing that isn’t new with this home.  It was this look and feel that the new owner most wanted when he first knocked on the door to make an offer to buy the home.

biscayne bay exterior front

He was successful in obtaining the home and its picturesque setting, but beyond there the home’s state of disrepair delayed his moving in.  Miami based property developer Todd Michael Glaser was brought in to assess the damage and determined that a renovation of the existing structure was impossible.  It would have to be rebuilt.  The front facade was maintained but the project otherwise required the removal of the entire back two-thirds of the house and the gutting of the rest.  The developer brought in architect Ralph Choeff and interior designer Charlotte Dunagan to collaborate on the home’s new design.  The necessary rebuild also provided an opportunity to expand the dwelling, and so it was.  The home expanded over 10,000 square-feet with new side wings added perfectly maintaining the homes symmetry and architectural harmony and ultimately creating the 18,000 square-foot mansion it now is.


The centrally located double-height entrance rotunda was retained in the redesign of the home and enhanced with the addition of a new coffered dome ceiling above.  The elegant foyer features a gently winding staircase with dark walnut steps and a delicate wrought-iron balustrade.


The foyer opens to the spacious classic-contemporary living room.  Classically inspired architectural details are combined with more contemporary design furnishings and styling. The space is white, bright, and awash with natural light pouring in from the wall of windows and French doors along the back providing beautiful views of the water.  The monochromatic color palette used here and throughout much of the home  is contrasted with the wide plank wood floors and the black accents placed about creating a crisp and tailored but relaxed effect.  This is a waterfront home after-all and the owner had requested spaces with relaxed elegance where the family could feel comfortable.  It also provides a perfect backdrop for the owners vibrantly colored collection of modern art.  A pair of Belgian linen upholstered sofas along with a pair of wing bergeres define the sitting area, which is centered with a pair of slate-topped, black painted cocktail tables by Lars Bolander.   The black wrought iron chandelier is by Dessin Fournir.



In the dining room, a pair of custom walnut tables with sunbursts marquetry tops of bespoke design by Dessin Fournir are surrounded with a rare find of 16 antique leather chairs from Randall Tysinger.   The room is anchored with a superb Napoleonic ebonized bibliotheque, circa 1865, which is flanked with colorful works by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero featuring his over-sized, bloated figures.  White linen draperies and shaded chandeliers by Carotto give the room a simple feel of understated elegance.


In the new family room, a coffered ceiling was created to mask structural elements joining the new and existing parts of the house, along with a pillared support at the pass-through into the kitchen. The custom contemporary design furnishings have been upholstered with fabrics from Monica James and are grouped on a textured NIBA rug.


The transitional kitchen is a light filled blend of old and new.  The white painted and glass-fronted cabinetry is of traditional design, while the custom bespoke designed milk glass and pewter hood above the stove is more contemporary.   An oak island with marble counter-top has been created with a breakfast bar.  An additional eat-in area was created with a banquette table.  The custom chairs and bar stools have all been upholstered with fabric from Monica James.



The designer Dunagan said of the owner “He was open to so much. His only specifications were traditional comfort,.. and a two-story library where men could gather to play pool, watch a movie or have a cigar.”  That is exactly what has been created here.  To one side, there is the two story library, and on the other there is a space for playing pool along with a full bar.  There is also an automated theater screen.  The hand laid herringbone floors are quite handsome and compliment the wood paneling in the library well.



In addition to the full bar, another space was created to relax and enjoy a drink.  A designated wine room containing over 200 bottles of vintage wine in temperature controlled storage units created within custom milled cabinetry.  This rooms antique leather furnishings and warmer colors create a gentlemen’s club effect.  At the back of the room, hidden doors provide access to a bay-windowed games room.



biscayne bay bath

The master bedroom suite is a supremely comfortable space.  The walls are finished with grass-cloth wall coverings by Phillip Jeffries.  The spectacular view of the Miami cityscape can be enjoyed by the owner from his bed which features a custom tufted wool-flannel headboard of bespoke design.  A pair of 1820’s burled walnut Biedermeier chests by Louis Philippe are placed on either side of the bed.  A sitting area has been created on the NIBA wool area rug with an armless settee and a pair of charcoal gray armchairs.  The master bedroom suite includes spacious separate bathrooms and dressing areas for each spouse.  A luxury that cannot be overstated.biscayne-bay-tv-room



biscayne bay rear lawn


The project took only eight months to complete from the tear down to the creation of the owners dream luxury home.  What does he think of his finished mansion?  He is ecstatic with the timelessness of his charming sea-side home.  We can understand why!

That wraps up our design inspiration for today my friends.  I hope you all have enjoyed and you have picked up a few interior design ideas for your own projects.

Development:  Todd Michael Glaser

Architecture:  Ralph Choeff Architect

Interior Design:  Charlotte Dunagan

photography:  Mark Surloff

Sources:  Florida Design

Thanks so much for reading along everyone!  Be sure to let me hear from you all in the comments or you can write me at the email provided on the contact page.   If you have enjoyed today’s post, please share it on along below!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Rebecca

    This is jaw-droppingly gorgeous! I could be in that entryway sitting room – first picture – for a month. It has every element that I love and makes me feel like I could take deep breath, relax, and take a break from the world. The bathroom with the free standing tub – perfection! I don’t think this project could have turned out any better.

    • Johnny knight

      Thank you so much Rebecca! We are very glad you like it. I love the entry rotunda too! My favorite space in the house. Thanks so much for commenting.

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