A Perfectly Imperfect House in Miami

In 2010, when Nikolai Bezsonoff and Konstanza Collert decided to move to Miami, it was not just to establish a new home in a new location – it was to build a life together after years of long-distance romance.

Although the two previously lived in Miami, New York and London, they did not meet until attending a mutual friend’s engagement party in Bogota, Colombia in 2008. At that time, Mr. Bezsenoff was living in New York and Ms. Collarte was in the process of leaving Miami for London.

A two-year bicycle relationship that blossomed from that initial encounter was “an air mile and AT&T was involved in long-distance bills,” said 46-year-old Mr. Bezsanoff, a technology executive who specializes in domain names and hosting .

Eventually, they uprooted for a few years to put their lives together to share a beach apartment on Key Biscayne. “It was a small paradise, just gorgeous,” said 40-year-old Ms. Kollart. An interior designer.

But when they had children – they now have three: Andreas, 7, Lucia, 4, and Agustin, 1 – they set their space ablaze, and the sand-to-toe lifestyle felt less contradictory.

So in 2016, he started looking for a new home. But most of what he saw had left him cold. “Everything in the landscape was a white, modern box,” Ms. Collarte said.

What they were expecting was a house with character. Or, as Mr. Bezsonoff said, “We wanted something that felt like home, and not so new.”

When she visited a 1930s Mediterranean-inspired home in the Coconut Grove neighborhood, Ms. Collert said, “We both fell in love immediately.”

The house’s plaster and terra-cotta-roofed exterior – wrapped by a lush yard of magnolia and palm trees, a lush green island and brick walkway designed by Fernando Land designer Fernando Wong.

The 5,400-square-foot interior was another story. The house faced a series of renovations and additions over the years, leaving it with awkward connections and corridors, and finishing the date – exactly what the pair had dreamed of. “We wanted something that we could sink our teeth into and do a little bit of work to do our job,” Ms Collert said.

She bought the home in May for about $ 3 million, and Ms. Collert began plans for a renovation that would not only update the interior style, but to create a comfortable, convenient living space for a busy young family with walls. Will shake it too.

He moved the laundry room from the garage to the ground floor of the house, opened the kitchen to the family room, removed a chimney that was on the way, discredited the bathroom, moved a sick staircase, living Swap room locations. And dining room, and new windows were added to bring in light and air. It was completely renovated to save some of the original doors and floors, which he had revived.

“I wanted to take it to an almost California-style Spanish house,” Ms. Colbert said, adding pleasing textures, soft curves and colors, natural materials and hand-applied finishes. “There is a lot of human touch on everything, which is a big thing for me.”

Cabinets in the newly expanded kitchen, for example, were hand painted rather than lacquered in a shop. And clouds appear on the white walls as Ms. Colart’s painter applied lime smoke and then waxed the surface, which adds shine and protects the finish from dirty hands.

She paved the primary bathroom with warm-hot limestone and installed a custom white-oak cabinet. And in many areas throughout the house, he designed the arches and walls with rounded edges, spanning sharp corners.

The interior space doesn’t look high-tech, but a smart-home system allows the couple to control lighting, heating, cooling and entertainment from their smartphones. “I mean, I’m at Tech, so one of the requirements was that I wanted a rack with equipment – just some blinking lights,” Mr. Bezsanoff said. (However, keeping in mind the beauty of Ms. Collarte, it is hidden.)

Surprising of that serene feeling that the contractor discovered during construction. After the demolition began in February 2017, the couple faced Dhanu and foundation problems. In addition, “we realized that we had to redo the roof,” Ms. Collert said. “And we came to know that there were termites.”

It took 17 months to complete the transformation at a cost of about $ 130 per square foot.

After living in the house for more than two years, Mr. Bezsonoff still sometimes wonders how much he likes it. “I was literally kicking and screaming about getting away from my lovely apartment,” with its watery view, he said. “It was a big change, but I love how we live in this house. I guess I didn’t realize that I was going to be able to enjoy the house. “

And having more room to spread is a gift during an epidemic. “There are spaces for everyone to zoom in, and Nikolai and me to do our work,” Ms. Collert said. “And there are places where we can hide from our children when necessary.”

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