Historic Palm Beach house near Worth Avenue gets a sensitive update

Zoya Soane has an affinity for older houses. So when she and her husband, David, set out to buy a home in Midtown Palm Beach four years ago, they were happy to find a 1925 landmarked property at 130 Brazilian Ave.

Like many vintage homes, the three-story house needed some work. Although it ended up being a major project, Zoya Soane was undaunted.

“The house, unfortunately, had been gutted of all of its original details and was redone in a 1980s style, with mauve Corian counters in the bathroom, for example. It was turned into a plain-old American house,” she explains.

The Soanes, who have homes in France, decided to give the interiors of their new residence a French feel, a style they knew would work nicely with their French antiques.

With an elaborately decorated ceiling and two chandeliers, the dining room showcases the Soanes’ collection of French antiques.

To restore the house’s charm, Zoya says, “we had to do everything to it. I did all the designs myself, and Jason Drobot (of Brasseur & Drobot Architects) helped me put it on paper,” she says.

The name of the Mediterranean-style house’s original architect has been lost to time, according to the landmark designation report prepared before the house earned the town’s protection in 1996. The report noted the house was “castle-like” and “boldly and asymmetrically massed, rising to three stories at its central core.”

After the Soanes’ renovation plans were drawn up, Drobot helped the couple shepherd the project through a review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which oversees renovation and restoration projects at the town’s landmarked properties.

Eison Construction Co. was the primary builder.

Viewed from the main house, the separate guest house provides a visual focal point beyond the pool.

“We redid the staircases with beautiful wrought iron instead of wood balusters that could have been anywhere in America. Every surface has been upgraded, renovated, and made more elegant and classic,” Zoya says.

They also added a family room and elevator, and reconfigured the kitchen and bathrooms.

“We put in (some) new floors, and we have plaster moldings and trims everywhere in the house. Every room has been upgraded and redone,” Zoya says. 

French doors at the far end of the living room lead onto the pool patio. The homeowners added decorative moldings during their renovation.

With so many homes — abroad and in Palm Beach, New York and in San Francisco — the Soanes have decided to downsize. That meant listing their four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home for sale. Agent Patricia Mahaney of Sotheby’s International Realty has the price set at $8.5 million for the house, which has 5,518 square feet of living space, inside and out. 

The house stands in the ocean block of Brazilian Avenue, three streets north of Worth Avenue. On a third of an acre, the Mediterranean-style exterior features a stucco façade, decorative surrounds framing the front door and some of the windows, arched details and a barrel-tile roof.

The Soanes’ home at 130 Brazilian Ave can be seen in the foreground lower right, the second house west of a mid-rise condominium building that faces the Atlantic Ocean.

Inside, the library and living room are east of the entry and stair hall, with the dining room, kitchen and family room to the west. From the second floor stair landing, the master bedroom suite is to the east, while two guest bedroom suites are on the opposite side. On the third floor, accessed via a circular staircase, is another guest bedroom suite.

The foyer’s staircase was given a new banister during the renovation in keeping with the French style of the interiors.
From the second-floor stair landing, a circular staircase leads to the third floor.

Features include marble flooring in the entry. Other floors are covered in oak or the original Miami Dade pine. The renovation included the installation of mahogany-framed windows fitted with impact-resistant glass.

In the living room, the mantel on the gas-powered fireplace was carved from marble, and a bank of French doors opens to the pool area.

A special highlight of the well-equipped kitchen is a LaCanche stove from France.

With its shapely range hood, the French LaCanche stove anchors the kitchen.

In the master bedroom, which has a wood-burning fireplace, doors lead onto a private terrace, and the master bathroom is finished with a Carrara marble floor and walls covered in Thassos marble. The vanities, prefabricated from Restoration Hardware, resemble furniture.

In the master bathroom, a freestanding bathtub is positioned opposite a double-sink vanity with a marble top.

A swimming pool and patio are central to the property, with the guest house near the southernmost boundary. Here, on the first floor, the living room, kitchen and bathroom adjoin two one-car garages, and upstairs are two bedrooms and a bathroom. Floors are either tiled for covered in Dade County pine.

The Soanes redid the landscaping, reconfigured the pool and installed coral stone for the hardscape.

The overall effect, Zoya says, is a house that appears to be one with its original era.

“When people walk in, they don’t have a clue that everything has been redone because I wanted it to feel like a classic 1920s house,” she says.

Added during the renovation, the family room has windows that overlook the pool area.
Wood floors add warmth to a second-floor guest bedroom.
The home office has a partners desk and oversized windows fitted with plantation shutters.

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