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April 3, 2014

The dining nook

With seven children aged one to 17, a parent has to get crafty, especially around dinnertime. Bart Reines, principal of the namesake construction and design firm in Miami that specializes in dream homes and father of one such brood, knows this all too well. When it came time to design a space for his clan to enjoy their evening meals, he took inspiration from the family itself: since they love dining out, he thought why not bring home the idea of restaurant-style seating? The result is an oversize dining nook with a three-sided, tufted banquette that’s kid-friendly and chic at the same time. “It’s more than a place to eat. We use it to do homework and hold family meetings,” said Reines, recalling one meeting when it was announced that his wife, Ariel, was expecting twins, the youngest of the bunch, to awestruck, joyous reaction. These days, “we pull their high chairs right up to the table too.”

Instrumental in the 2013 Elle Décor Modern Life Concept House for Art Basel, Reines knows his local resources inside and out, and relied on them to build the nook. Bon Vivant Custom Woodworking built its multi-functional base of stained mahogany and painted maple, adding cubbyholes for backpacks and shoes. Cushions, which are upholstered in stain-proof faux leather from Arabel Fabrics, detach for cleaning crumbs and spills. Reines selected the tabletop’s white marble at Opustone and curated a gallery of black-and-white photos snapped on special occasions and family vacations. “The pictures are a big discussion point during dinner even after all these years,” he said, adding that he sits with the whole gang most nights around 6:30. “Ariel and I usually concentrate on conversing with the kids and making sure everyone behaves before having a quiet dinner together later when they’re asleep. We need some one-on-one time!” Ariel, a doctor who’s also an accomplished cook and published A Taste of Paradise, a collection of Bahamian recipes, doesn’t mind catering to the wide range of food requests she frequently receives. But to ensure young ones stay away from the stove and out from under her feet, Reines also built an island that divides the kitchen into separate adult and kid areas. “The biggest challenge was making a seamless transition between the two spaces,” said Reines, who pulled off the renovation in just one month. “I’m a builder. If I didn’t get that right, my wife would have not been happy!”

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