Randy Florke—a New York decorator and author who juggles the responsibility for three adopted children, six houses, a string of high-end design projects, a brokerage business, a construction company, and a steady run of television appearances—can fit a lot into a day.
So it follows that Randy knows how to make smart use of a tiny space, most recently in a Miami Beach getaway for his young family—17-year-old Jesus, 6-year-old Daley, 4-year-old Essie and Randy's longtime partner, Sean Patrick Maloney, a lawyer and former White House staff secretary under President Clinton.
Randy bought the apartment on a whim in March 2005. Its location, at the quiet end of trendy Lincoln Road, sold him on the spot. But the space—a white concrete box with bland ceramic tile floors—defined style-challenged. Undaunted, the designer cut to the real predicament: how to make 750 square feet yield the right degree of togetherness for a dynamic family of five—and all within his $16,000 budget.
Now, the one-bedroom apartment is beautifully designed to meet everybody's wish list. "For my son, it's all about TV and wireless Internet," Randy says. "The girls need some soft space, so I did the Flokati rugs."
The living room drapes and the ottoman were custom made, and the lamp was converted from a Mercury-glass vase purchased at John Derian Company.
Randy embraced the project with one strategy in mind: Set some ground rules. "I needed to create a space that would offer as much privacy as possible while all five of us are here," Randy says, "and, at the same time, to make it feel like a luxurious hotel suite when Sean and I are here alone."
The condo now boasts a terrifically economical setup, with separate hangout areas connected by an upbeat color scheme. Throughout the apartment, Randy's mix of elegant antiques and flea-market finds—combined with an innovative use of fabrics (bought in one hour at a discount store)—conjures up a beachy, retro-modern vibe. "I wanted it to look like a page out of Architectural Digest from the 1960s," he says.
The nondescript living room was recast as a youthful, yet elegant lounge that doubles as the children's dorm and entertainment zone; they sleep on two Moda Furniture sofa beds. Randy bought the blue-framed mirror at a Ferndale, New York, antiques store. "My son thought it was awesome right away," he adds. "The girls assumed it was a hotel room. It took a while before they realized that it's ours."
Back home in New York City, Randy shopped for furnishings. In order to design long-distance, he took some photos and measurements before he left and formed a plan of attack. "It wasn't enough to put in furniture," he says. "When you're dealing with something this blank, you have to do something special to give it character; it needs a history and a story."
The family's new dining room certainly has a vintage feel. The painted wood dining table, from Malek Furniture, is lit by a 1940s French chandelier Randy purchased at Chelsea Home Collection. The plates are from the Upper Rust Antiques.
With the help of his Miami real estate agent, Randy was able to install custom touches, such as dentil moldings and casement windows to add instant architecture.
Pocket doors between the bedroom and the living area also provide a quick fix for a small space that, depending on the situation, needs to be open and airy or private.
The second time Randy ever saw the apartment was on move-in day—four months after he discovered it. Randy made the trip a family affair. "My brother, who is the foreman of my construction company, drove the furniture down and helped hang everything," he says. "Within two hours, we were done unpacking. Within 12 hours, it looked like it looks now. So we had a great vacation."
Randy and Sean's bedroom is a true retreat. The bed was made by David Gigi, as were the curtains. The bedding and the bench are from the Company Store. The nightstand is from Recycling the Past, and the lamp was found at a flea market. The armchair was recovered from an old house that was being torn down.
Now that everything's settled, Randy and his family love their close quarters. "There's something really genius about being that close with your family. It forces us to communicate," Randy says.
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