Inside a Glamorous, Art-Forward Bal Harbour Condo

After a decade of starts and stops, a Manhattan couple goes full throttle to make their residence an enviable, art-filled destination


Back in 2012 Benedict Morelli, an attorney based in New York, and his wife, Arlene, spent hours touring the units for sale at the exclusive St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, the tony residential tower right across the street from Bal Harbour Shops. When they finally set foot on a 19th-floor, 3,500-square-foot residence with gloriously high ceilings and ample terraces, they instantly knew they had found “the one.” Before an offer was even made, the couple began envisioning the long weekends they would spend on those balconies as they enjoyed the breezes from the ocean.

Once sale matters were settled, Arlene began the hunt for the right designer to transform the condominium into a glamorous, art-forward home. Her research soon led her to Sofia Joelsson, a tastemaker well-versed in vertical living.

“They wanted something modern, clean, and understated, with warmth and comfort, so their two adult sons could move around and have different experiences when they visited,” says Joelsson. “It was important to them that the apartment didn’t feel like a showroom.”

Work soon began in the kitchen, where dark cabinets were replaced with white glass ones; on the floors, which were covered in hardwood and thin-cut travertine; and in the primary bedroom, which received a total makeover. Then, just as abruptly, the process stopped when the Morellis had a change of heart and put the residence up for sale. Years later they changed their minds yet again, and Joelsson was back at work and thrilled about it: “The original vision was back on,” she says, “and we started from where we left off.”

As more customizing ensued and certain rooms were rethought (such as the midnight kitchen that turned into a dressing room), the attention turned to the Morellis’ art collection of works from new and established artists from all around the world. Arlene and Joelsson opted for architectural furniture to enhance and anchor the artworks, but they didn’t shy away from color—one example of this approach is found in the living room where chartreuse velvet chairs were chosen to offset a busy figurative painting titled Protest Color Tagged 2 by the Ivorian-born artist Aboudia. 

As time passed and the project progressed, the homeowners invited Joelsson on their annual shopping trip to Art Basel and welcomed her input as the condo moved forward. “Art will always find its home,” says the designer. “We didn’t mix and match art with furniture; it was all about complementing.” In some instances, Joelsson even provided her own creative contributions, including a hand-painted mural depicting serene clouds that now rises behind the bed in the primary bedroom. 

Not always present but still involved in the design decisions, Benedict’s only request was a wine storage area equipped to display his prized labels. 

Joelsson delivered with a custom wine wall—complete with bronze handles and stainless-steel pegs—that showcases the bottles as if they are floating on air. This linear setup in the dining room is the ideal partner for a series of 10 black-and-white drawings by Kaws. Here, a bronze-and-glass dining table for eight from Roche Bobois is all but unused, as the more casual Morellis prefer to dine alfresco on any of the nearby terraces every chance they get. These outdoor perches have also come in handy for regular Zoom sessions with friends and family. “We don’t mind when people visit as long as it’s virtually,” Benedict jokes. “It’s less messy that way.” 

Thrilled with the end result and Joelsson’s work, the couple recently began renovating another vacation home in The Hamptons and once again tapped Joelsson to handle the interiors. We’re certain that association will yield yet another masterpiece—hopefully in a much shorter timeline.

Story Credits:

Interior Design by Sofia Joelsson, Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL

Text by Riki Altman-Yee

Photography by Emilio Collavino, Miami Beach, FL

Open to see Interior Design Sources:


Living Room

Sofa – Camerich Miami, Miami, FL 

Club chairs – Anthropologie, Miami Beach, FL

Accent chair – Desiree, Anima Domus, Miami, FL

Fabric – Romo, DCOTA, Dania Beach, FL

Cocktail table – Nest Casa, Miami, FL

Oval side table – Holly Hunt, Miami, FL

Bench – True Design, Design Public Group, Los Angeles, CA

Floor lamp – Merve Kahraman, Milan, Italy

Artwork above sofa – Ethan Cohen Gallery, New York, NY

Area rug designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, 

Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by Oliver Treutlein, Meerbusch, Germany

Dining Area

Table – Roche Bobois, Miami, FL

Chairs – Olivya Stone, Los Angeles, CA

Chandelier – Sonneman Lighting, Farrey’s, North Miami, FL

B/W artwork – Kaws, Gallery Art, Aventura, FL

Wine wall designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by Sempre Avanti Woodwork & Design, Hollywood, FL 

Wine wall glass – Nations Glass, Cooper City, FL

Seating Off Dining Area

Sofa – Camerich Miami, Miami, FL

Club chair – Bernhardt, Curated Living, Miami, FL

Cocktail table designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by R.E.J. Doza Designs, Boynton Beach, FL

Side table – Curated Living, Miami, FL

Floor lamp – Arteriors Home, Curated Living, Miami, FL

Red paint sculpture – Bel Air Fine Art, Miami, FL

Area rug designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by Kyle Bunting, Austin, TX


Cabinetry and island designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by Scavolini, Coral Gables, FL

Stool – Design Within Reach, Miami, FL

Pendant lighting – Troy Lighting,

Primary Bedroom

Bed and headboard designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL and fabricated by Vant Panels,

Wallcovering behind bed – Calico Wallpaper, The Future Perfect, New York, NY

Bench designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by R.E.J. Doza Designs, Boynton Beach, FL

Side table – Camerich Miami, Miami, FL

Pendant lighting – Humanscale, Lightology, Chicago, IL

Hanging lighting – Tech Lighting,

Artwork of swimmer – Nelson de la Nuez, Luria Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Artwork of abstract – JonOne, Fabien Castanier Gallery, Culver City, CA

Area rug designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by Oliver Treutlein, Meerbusch, Germany

Primary Bathroom

Cabinetry, shower and tub designed by Sofia Joelsson Design, Miami Beach, FL, and fabricated by Nacho & Son Construction Company, Miami, FL

Sconce – Astro Lighting,

Ceiling light – Astro Lighting,  

Flooring – Marble of the World, Miami, FL 


Seating grouping – Holly Hunt, Miami, FL

Cocktail table – Holly Hunt, Miami, FL

Decorative pendants – Contardi, Curated Living, Miami, FL


General contractor – Nacho & Son Construction Company, Miami, FL

Millwork – Sempre Avanti Woodwork & Design, Hollywood, FL

Glass wine enclosure – Nations Glass and Mirror, Inc., Cooper City, FL

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