For a young family of six that splits their time between Florida and Brazil, establishing a sense of personal space was a driving factor when designing their new house in Miami. after purchasing a sprawling Mediterranean-style structure in a sought-after suburban neighborhood, the owners gutted it to make the home more in line with their family-focused lifestyle and modern aesthetic. to achieve this, the wife called on designer Ivonne Ronderos after seeing her firm’s work in a friend’s home. “our challenge,” says Ronderos, “was balancing ‘minimalism’ with ‘homey’ so it would be comfortable for the kids. it may not be apparent at first glance, but this is a truly lived-in family home.”
First, architect Jorge l. Esteban of accolade construction company and designer Philip Chappelle—of Philip Chappelle design—came on board in the early stages to modernize the Mediterranean lines of the house and develop the interior space planning. Ronderos and her associates at DKOR Interiors then stepped into further modernize the home and attend to every detail. The wife’s desired color palette was mostly white, with natural textures added for warmth, and spaces were to be spare and visually uncluttered—no heavy window treatments, for example. Wires, outlets and light switches were to remain unseen and, whenever possible, furniture should hang on the walls to keep the floor space clean. The deadline: 10 months.
“Our client had very specific ideas and an acute design eye. she definitely kept us on our toes,” says Ronderos with a laugh. “we guided her a lot, but she took the lead and became part of the design team.” working closely with builder Joey Newman (“our partner in crime,” says Ronderos), DKOR delivered a meticulously detailed home where function is just as important as form. They not only honored the wife’s requests but also took them to levels beyond, resulting in a modern design that is as playful as it is elegant and as sophisticated as it is family friendly.
The home’s bright, soaring spaces are warmed with bamboo, linen and controlled doses of vivid color. Vanities, tables and shelving hover, legless, above the floors, and through clever use of recessed metal baseboards and indirect lighting, walls appear weightless. Light fixtures hang in the air, and doors and frames are flush with the walls so sightlines are unbroken. “The homeowner wanted windows anywhere and everywhere possible,” says Ronderos. “And where we couldn’t put windows, she installed solar tubes to bring in sunlight.”
In the dining room, a cloud-like light fixture floats above a custom glass-and-wood table, and off-white leather chairs with curved chrome legs add softness to the horizontal planes. Panels of mirrored glass reflect the view of the backyard in the adjacent room, providing the windowless space with the illusion of natural light. Hidden behind the panels is a secret door leading to the kitchen and a mirrored wet bar with a single orange panel that conceals additional storage. In lieu of a bulky buffet, a ledge pulls out of the wall and locks into place; when not needed, it folds back into its niche, disappearing from sight.
Bamboo envelops the media room, extending from the floor to the ceiling behind the television, where it conceals wires and storage drawers. Adjacent recessed shelving keeps toys and games tidy and close-at-hand. “We used the bamboo to obscure the storage instead of building a huge wall unit,” says Ronderos. “It’s functional and looks cleaner and more beautiful.”
Upstairs, the master bedroom and the children’s spaces were treated to the same level of thought and design detail as the public spaces on the floors below. In the study area, which features a sleek desktop backed with orange magnetic glass, each child has a designated computer station and file cabinets for schoolwork and supplies. Unlike their sisters, the two boys share a room, but privacy can easily be achieved at the push of a button: a partition lowers from the ceiling, dividing the room in two. It retracts entirely into the roof, leaving only a thin line on the ceiling in its wake.
Although the beauty and success of the custom design elements lie in their subtle presentation, their execution required substantial amounts of thought, planning and precision, according to Newman. “So many people have to be on same page to get it just right. But it’s the effort and attention to detail that make this house stand apart,” he says. “The homeowners didn’t just want everything to look good—they wanted to build a quality home.”
They also wanted to create a place to forge family memories. “our client was very thoughtful about how her family lived, and she was a perfectionist in the best possible way. No detail was overlooked,” say Ronderos. “It was a definite challenge, but she taught us how to seek perfection in our own work, and that was the greatest lesson.”