Homeowner Scott Bennett can’t say enough about his contemporary condominium at L’Hermitage, one of the most coveted buildings on the Galt Ocean Mile in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Every time I walk in … I can’t believe I live here,” he says. Today, breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean and downtown Fort Lauderdale can be seen from almost any room in the 2,700-square-foot home. But it wasn’t always this way.
When the design team of Harry Martinez and Arielle Meyer first stepped through the front door, they were confronted with a tunnel of Venetian plaster. Between that and a walled-off kitchen, the outdoors was not visible until well into the unit. Bennett commissioned Martinez and Meyer, both skilled in space planning and interior design, to undertake the remodel. “I wanted the place to resemble a New York City loft and to take advantage of the fabulous views,” says Bennett, a corporate attorney who spends weekdays in Manhattan and long weekends relaxing at his Fort Lauderdale beach home. Bennett, who frequently hosts fundraisers, needed ample space to entertain large groups. He also wanted the interiors to be filled with contemporary, comfortable clean-lined furnishings in dark woods that were also masculine. “Our client desired a sense of calmness — a simple elegance without big patterns or bright colors,” Meyer says.
When the work began, walls came down to reveal two plumbing stacks in the kitchen that could not be moved. To resolve this, Martinez designed a rift-cut floating island bar covered in oak with a quartzite top crafted by Euro International. “This is what makes working with the architecture so important,” Martinez says. “You need to be sure the space works before you fill it with furniture and other decor.” In place of chandeliers or ceiling lamps that might obstruct the views, Martinez cleverly added floating soffits inset with WAC’s white square-trim lighting.
Just steps into the living area, a soft upholstered sofa and matching armchairs that swivel 360-degrees, and a tufted-leather bench, all crafted by Italian designer i4 Mariani, provide comfortable seating to enjoy picturesque window views and artwork by Martinez, who sketches his own renderings by hand. Three encaustic pieces in Martinez’s series, Fashion Ancestry, stack the wall between the living area and kitchen. Created from a combination of bleached beeswax, damar resin and pigment, the artwork accents the neutral tones in the space. “The encaustic three-dimensional art gives it an architectural feel,” he says.
To design Bennett’s office, a space that conveniently converts to a guest room, the team made use of some existing pieces that lend a mid-century vibe. A butterscotch-leather Barcelona chair and vintage walnut occasional tables by JM Designs create a comfortable environment that also takes advantage of the spectacular views.
Scenes of the city’s skyline continue in the dining area, where a mahogany table designed by Studio 33 Interiors is lined with walnut chairs from Herval upholstered in an ivory tone. A Kosta Boda hand-blown centerpiece in vibrant orange hues adds a splash of color near a custom built-in buffet of rift-cut oak that is lit from below and appears to float.
On view from the living area, a black and white drawing by artist Tomás Esson and Atonement, another encaustic painting by Martinez created with pink pigments, flank a custom-designed lacquer wall unit. Lining the shelves, bronze ball sculptures, a pair of red crystal vases and a Cycladic horse statue from Decades create an eclectic mix.
Just off the living area, the den was designed as a casual space with entertaining in mind. Against the wall, Euro International’s custom-crafted benches are fitted with Ultrasuede cushions and adorned with patterned accent pillows from Kravet. The versatile piece offers extra storage and is arranged to face a window that invites panoramic views of the ocean. Overhead, recessed lighting in a custom-designed soffit by Martinez softly illuminates walls covered in silk grasscloth by Phillip Jeffries. To set a festive mood, speakers built into the soffit connect to an AV system that allows music to flow through the apartment for Bennett and his guests to enjoy.
The master bedroom is a warm, yet masculine space created with a bed and headboard wall crafted from rich, Tabu wood veneer. Bennett, who frequently travels internationally for business, wanted this particular room to be uncluttered and peaceful — a retreat from his busy world. Designed to resemble a luxury cruise ship cabin with an ocean view, built-in bedside tables appear to float against inlaid mirrors that reflect the morning sun. Draping floor-to-ceiling windows, the custom-designed Ripplefold curtains by Robert Allen convey a wavelike effect. A perfect place to relax, the Thayer Coggin chaise lounge clad in chocolate-brown leather, offers comfort and serenity after a long day of work.
Out on the terrace, guests dine alfresco while seated on Barlow Tyrie chairs that surround a custom, quarter-turned teak tabletop. Overhead lighting from Tango enhances the glow from the cityscape below.
To create this open, modern environment, the design team combined their talents so that the outdoors can be savored from the inside. “Without the views, this would be a very different place,” Martinez says.
Interior Architecture and Design by Harry Martinez and Arielle Meyer, Studio 33 Interiors, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Photography by Myro Rosky, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Text by Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley