While many homes are handsome, well-crafted or exquisitely furnished, only a rare few can be called enchanting. Such rarities epitomize more than design and craft, more than furniture and fabrics, more than merely opulent materials—they have an almost magical capacity to whisk our imaginations away to a different, more wonderful world. While many of those enthralling homes take us to a land and time of princes and princesses, this richly detailed house in Coral Gables carries us to a subtler place: a villa of the Roman Republic, perhaps—or more simply, the domain of an artistic Renaissance couple.
The owners—husband Carlos Gonzalez-Abreu and wife Ana Maria Alas—are like Renaissance masters, serving as the architects and interior designers of their home, while also helming the build and designing the landscape. It’s clear that the couple are as comfortable with interiors as with architecture. Still, they gave the personal project its due time. “We’ve been designing this house for many years,” says Alas. One might sketch out an idea while the other considered and commented on it. Then, the thought might get put aside for six months while the pair carried on raising kids and designing for others. In the meantime, they were buying pieces for themselves as they traveled the world shopping for clients.
Creating enchantment takes time. “This design was a decades-long process,” says Gonzalez-Abreu. The pair met in college, studied in Europe (him in Paris, her in Rome), married, started their own firm, traveled extensively, and raised a family while living in a small house built in 1936 situated on the rear of this lot. All the while, they were sketching ideas and setting aside wonderful pieces. What they finally created with all that knowledge and all those artifacts is a magical world where Rome meets Florida meets Michelangelo. Says Gonzalez-Abreu: “This house is a diary of our lives.”