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A FREESTANDING PAVILION containing an outdoor kitchen turned the backyard of Eliezer and Elizabeth Veguilla's Miami home into a luxuriously appointed retreat. The shimmery glass mosaic tiles in the pool sync with the amber-colored ones that cover the cooking area's back wall.
Like many people who leave their homelands and immigrate to the United States, Eliezer Veguilla, his wife, Elizabeth, and their family had to abandon most of their possessions. When the Cuban natives came to Miami seven years ago, they started from scratch. But now they're living a wonderful life: Eliezer has a successful career in medicine; one child is married and another is in college; and they have a brand-new, two-story, six-bedroom custom home.
Elizabeth envisioned her house as a gathering place where friends and family could enjoy casual get-togethers. She also wanted to take advantage of the balmy climate by maximizing the home's outdoor-living potential. Armed with these plans and a folder full of magazine clippings, she hired local interior designer Gisela Martin to work out the details. "The challenge was to create a relaxed, homey feeling with all new things," says Martin, who used a British West Indies–inspired design to harmonize with both the Bermuda-style architecture and the tropical location.
The secluded backyard (its lush landscaping includes a plethora of palm trees) was perfect for a laid-back oasis. The rectangular swimming pool is in the center, banded by a large area of hardscaping. Nearby, "the owners wanted a separate structure for cooking," says Martin, "in order to keep all the heat and smoke away from the house and porch." A 12-by-12-foot hipped-roof pavilion serves as a snack and drink station; it boasts a full kitchen and bar, a flat-screen plasma TV. A cabana bathroom and dressing room are built into the back. This resortlike alfresco space called for stylish and durable furniture. The designer chose weatherproof chaises and bar stools that resemble wicker, but are actually constructed of dark brown plastic woven over rustproof frames. "They can sit out in the sun forever and be fine," Martin says.
The yard isn't the only place that offers open-air relaxation. A pair of French doors in the family room access a wraparound porch, extending the living area and allowing cross ventilation through the house. The 10-foot-deep covered veranda serves as a dining and sitting space for the family; Martin equipped it with the same sturdy faux-wicker furniture she used by the pool.
The designer specified billowy, sheer white polyester curtains to soften the porch openings and instill a romantic atmosphere. But there's a practical reason, too: "It rains frequently here," Martin says. "But you can still stay outside and have dinner—simply pull the curtains shut and you've got a buffer from the elements."
Just inside the French doors is the family room, where Martin used casual fabrics and furnishings for a lived-in look. "I didn't want anything too stuffy or posh," she says. "I was more concerned with quality and comfort." She dressed the Crema Marfil tile floor with a fun, brown leather shag rug, mixed in wenge-stained rift-oak furniture with h upholstery, and added wicker accents to define the transitional style.
Whether relaxing inside or entertaining out by the pool, the Veguillas now enjoy their new lives and good fortune against the beautiful backdrop Martin created.