bold & beautiful

unencumbered by conventional design ideas, barbara becker revels in her cosmically cool blast from the past.

Text by: Saxon Henry
Photos courtesy of: Troy Campbell
Styled by Susan Cannon

published by miami herald home & design september 2009 | view original article

Designer, model, actress, athlete and mother are descriptors that rest as easily on Barbara Becker’s shoulders as do her casually chic clothing designs. At any given moment during any given day, she will likely be handling duties as diverse as negotiating deals for her new design lines to playing backgammon with her children to filming a Pilates video.

In fact, the backdrop for her life in Miami, a home tucked inconspicuously into its lush island setting, is the epicenter of so much vibrant activity that the interiors demanded an amplified personality to stand up to all the excitement. “When the first strip of wallpaper went up in the dining room, my friends were screaming, I can’t take it.” she says, laughing. “Then I put the pink shag carpet on the floor and for a minute, I couldn’t take it, either!” But as each element fell into place. Becker knew she’d created a home that was uniquely personable and fun, one that satisfied her desire to surprise.

“I think as I’m growing older, I’m decorating younger,” says Becker, once married to tennis great Boris Becker. “I don’t approach decorating my home any differently than I approach dressing: If it’s possible to dress a certain way, it is certainly possible to adapt that to a room.”

During the extensive renovation, architect Oscar Glottman and antiques dealer Gustavo Olivieri were the other members of Becker’s mod squad. Glottman was the architect of record on the project and a large percentage of the furnishings were purchased through his showroom. “I Jove blending the old and the new,” says Becker.

“Oscar’s aesthetic is very manly and streamlined, while Gustavo’s is romantic and voluptuous. I brought both these styles together into something that suits me very well.”

Though the advent of most design schemes centers upon a wall color or the perfect carpet, each of Becker’s rooms began with the light fixtures. “I work around light in every scenario,” she explains. “It’s because I’m in love with light, which is one reason I adore Jiving in Miami.”

Her attention to detail in lighting is a c rowning achievement in each space. In the dining room, a leafy, womblike chandelier made of hand-blown Murano glass in a violet-pink goes from pertly bright to wistful when the lights go from full on to dim. In the family room, which is swathed in green and silver wallpaper, BigMod Sputnik chrome chandeliers are glamorously groovy.

What saves the interiors from being nostalgically typecast is the mix of styles in each space. Neutral shag carpet, an antique African bed for a coffee table, and an Eero Aarnio Bubble chair are among the combined antiques and modern furnishings in the family room, which, like the other rooms, is an homage to a modern woman who is pretty comfortable with her own bold style.

“The House is like me; it’s not what people expect it to be from the outside. it has this colonial feel on the outside and, when you come inside, it’s almost ‘clockwork orange’!”

– barbara becker