MODERN LUXURY INSIDE BRETT & GISELLE'S HOME
After years of creating dream homes for their clients, designers Brett Sugerman and Giselle Loor turn their astute aesthetic powers on a place of their own.
Brett Sugerman and Giselle Loor, the principals behind b+g design who are partners in work and life, are used to conjuring the perfect modern homes for others, but when it came to finding their own house and refashioning it, they found they were as particular as any of their clients.
Case in point: Wanting to upsize from the downtown Fort Lauderdale apartment they shared with their kids, the couple spent two years looking for the right residence. Their criteria? Proximity to their children’s school and a place that was on the water. A tall order, indeed. “One day Giselle called and said, ‘I think I found it,’”Sugerman recalls.
At first he was wary about the 2,675 square foot house at the end of a canal in Fort Lauderdale, but, he adds, “so much of it was right.” Sugerman soon came to see the home’s position – with its enviable Intracoastal access – as a huge advantage: “One: Because it’s at the end of the canal, we ended up with a big, pie-shaped lot, which meant more green space than the typical canal lot. Two: There’s much more privacy because of the way the house is angled. And three: We get a nice breeze that funnels down the canal and ends up at our house.” It was immediately clear to them that the three bedroom, three bathroom residence (they added a half-bath), built in the 1970s, had good bones.
Unlike most buildings constructed during that era, this house boasted high cathedral ceilings. Still, a gut renovation was in order – one that became more involved than the new owners ever anticipated. Sugerman’s father was a prominent Miami architect and used to tell a joke about such undertakings.
“He would talk about the ‘may-as-well’ construction company,” Sugerman remembers. “‘If you redo the walls, you may as well redo the roof.’ One thing always leads to another.” Said words of wisdom soon came true. When the duo set out to raise the roof of the master bedroom wing, they ended up changing it out completely and extending it to create a 400-square-foot outdoor patio.
The renovations continued when they noticed the house did not come with easy sightlines to the water. “We had to open up the back of the house, so transom glass was added,” says Loor. Changes to the front of the residence were more subtle. “The front of the house already had that open design, but the existing glass was not impact-resistant, and some of the glass was mismatched. So that had to be replaced as well,” Sugerman adds. In addition, they enlarged the front door (now an imposing 6 feet by 8 feet) and gave the previously top-heavy exterior what Sugerman calls “broad shoulders – and balance – by filling in some of the walls and making them chunkier.”
The use of tongue-and-groove cypress – stained in a weathered, transparent gray for more of a warm, earthy West Coast look – on the exterior walls and under the eaves softened the home’s modern lines. Inside, wood flooring and walls (using 7-inch-wide wood planks) function to warm up the space and lend texture, offering a contrast to the slickness of Calacatta gold marble and glass. But if the home delivers warmth, it also achieves a kind of weightlessness, as some of the furnishings and aspects of the custom construction seem to float with seams that don’t meet and bases that recede. This theme is noticeable everywhere, from the custom-designed floating bed in the master suite to the barely there base of the soaking tub in the master bath’s wet room to the kitchen units (fabricated in rift-cut oak and quartz by Giovanni Art & Custom Furniture) that appear not to touch the floor or the ceiling.
The living area’s marble-backed ledge is the essence of lightness, and even the classic, metal Brno dinette chairs reveal minimal supports. “Using the technique of floating enhances the feeling of more space,” says Sugerman. “That’s something we generally incorporate into all our designs.” The color palette reinforces that lightness. “So much of South Florida is that light, bright tropical look that is typically not our trademark,” adds Sugerman. “In the projects Giselle and I have done together, we’ve never done white walls.” The main goal? “I wanted the space to feel open, airy and light,” says Loor. To Sugerman, what they came up with is a testament to the way they live their no-fuss family life: “The sense of scale and the way the house flows – the mood and the temperament – is a reflection of us,” he says, “even if it’s different, in some respects, from what we’ve done before.”