When a Miami real estate investor/developer was looking for a home for him and his three children about two years ago, he turned to a charming bayside village known as Coconut Grove. Located right outside of Miami, this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is widely known for its lush green landscape and cultural soul, and is filled with eclectic sidewalk cafes, art galleries, museums and boutiques.

When searching for a specific location for his new home, the developer decided that The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami would be perfect, given its desirable location, world-class amenities and sweeping views of downtown Miami. To help transform the 2,500-square-foot, 12th floor unit he selected into his dream condo, he enlisted the assistance of interior designer, Alena Capra, CKD, CBD, of Alena Capra Designs in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Capra explained the overall design goal was to revamp the condo and make the space more open. “It has beautiful views of Miami,” she said. “With the original closed off kitchen, you were unable to appreciate any of the views from there. My client had just purchased the two-bedroom unit and wanted to make it a space that showed off those amazing views.”

To accomplish a more open space, a wall that was facing the living room was removed, which opened the kitchen to the entire unit and its panoramic views, and the adjacent dinette was converted into a bedroom for one of the client’s children. The new bedroom’s entry provided enough room to construct a 4-foot closet and sliding door. Another wall was constructed on the other side of the kitchen to create a dining room, and the original dining room then became a third bedroom. “We kept the existing marble floors and filled in the areas where walls were removed,” said Capra.

The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami

Coconut Grove, FL

Designer:  Alena Capra Designs, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Stone Supplier: Pompeii Quartz, Naples, FL (quartz countertops); Marble Systems, Doral, FL (Crema Marfil marble)

Tile Supplier: Oceanside Glasstile, Carlsbad, CA

Installation Products: Schluter®-Systems, Plattsburgh, NY (trims); Mapei, Deerfield Beach, FL (custom color matched grout)

Moving into the kitchen and living room area is where the true transformation of the condo is evident. “We used lots of glass tiles for accents,” said Capra. “Oceanside Glasstile’s Tessera collection (a 1- x 1-inch custom blend of Cane Irid, Harvest Irid and Pewter Irid) was used as our backsplash tile, and then I carried it out into the main living area on the columns. I built in a banquette in the dining area and anchored it between two tiled columns, which we also up lit to give a dramatic presence in the evening. These beautiful tiled columns frame out an amazing view of the city. It’s the best part.

“I used Pompeii Quartz’ Vanilla Ice quartz counters in the kitchen,” Capra went on to say. “I wanted something not too busy on the counter, so I could do more of a statement backsplash. This created a nice balance.”

When selecting the types of tile to use, Capra and her client decided to go with Oceanside’s Tessera collection because of the range of colors offered and the way it flowed with the condo’s overall design. “We loved the colors in the glass mosaic of the backsplash because it set the tone for all the accent furnishings,” said Capra. “My client wanted amber lighting and the tile brought that color in perfectly. I also love the iridescent sheen on Oceanside Glasstile, as it changes during the daylight hours to night time.”

In the kitchen and bathrooms, Capra used 18- x 18-inch pieces of polished Crema Marfil marble floor tiles from Marble Systems and smaller mosaic pieces of glass to create a “spa-like atmosphere.” “I used Schluter®-Systems trims for the column edges and to frame out the mirror in the master bath,” she said. “I love the clean look it creates. I use it so often in my designs.

“We [also] used custom color matched grout for the master bath tile,” Capra added. “My client wanted the grout to be the exact same color as the tile. The end result was perfect.”

When remodeling the kitchen, Capra ran into some minor challenges in regard to the stonework. “The Crema Marfil was existing in all areas of the condo except the bedrooms,” she said. “Since the original kitchen was closed off to the main living area by a wall, the flooring was a porcelain tile, so when we opened up the kitchen, we removed the porcelain floor and replaced it with the closest matching Crema Marfil we could find. We blended in the pieces and it worked really well. You would have never known [we replaced it]. At the end of project, they polished the floors so it all had a similar shine.”

Since this project was labor intensive, although it only took six months to complete, Capra was onsite regularly to ensure everything went according to plan. “I spent a lot of time on site, especially supervising the tile installation,” she said. “I wanted to make sure all Schluter® trims were applied properly, and we often make minor size adjustments for custom mirrors (in the bathroom) on site. I like to map out the frame of the mirror and adjust as we need to, once we have all the materials there.”

The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami condo was a full remodel, and Capra also did a complete design, including all of the furnishings. “This project was one of my favorites,” she said. “It was published in a local design magazine and is also on Oceanside Glasstile’s website. My client loves the space, which is the most important thing.”