Behind every project is a driving factor that inspires the interiors’ look and feel. For designer Carolina Freyre, two primary elements were clear from the start of the third residence she completed for repeat clients: the family’s compelling art collection and the home’s modern farmhouse architecture. “It was a luxury to start with art, because it really anchored and directed the project,” Freyre says. “And it was exciting to work on an edgier idea of a farmhouse; the two fit well together.”
Architects Max Strang and Alexandra Mangimelli had dreamed up this concept on a bosky lot in Miami, and the family purchased the property after builder Alex Pirez framed the structure. “We describe much of our work as ‘regional modernism,’” Strang explains. “It’s a softer version of modernism that adapts a house to its site and climate.” Responding to this setting among wonderful old oak trees, the team combined bold exterior materials such as keystone, Kebony wood and glass—lots of it—for a palette that is simultaneously distinctive and rooted in the locale. “It’s a style never before seen in the area,” Pirez adds.
The home’s connection to the grounds was furthered by landscape architect Christopher Cawley. “When you think of a modern farmhouse, you tend to think of a forest and then a clearing, where you’d find the structure,” he explains. “So, we tried to use restraint in our design to accentuate the architecture.” One example: After designing the circular driveway, his team planted a trio of gumbo limbo trees in the middle to create a small grove. Grass slits in the front pavers soften the hardscape, and Coccothrinax palms join exterior sculptures in adding interest to the front lawn.
The entry of the H-shaped residence, topped with gabled rooflines, is defined by a central glass volume. “It’s so transparent that as you’re walking up to the front door, you can see through the foyer to the pool and backyard,” Strang says. These light-filled spaces called for a style that is “clean, contemporary, livable and warm, with pops of drama,” Freyre describes. She began by considering the clients’ art collection, an assortment of bold-colored works and commanding sculptures. “The art is not delicate or subtle,” the designer notes. “It’s bright and strong, and it makes a statement, so I knew I’d choose a lot of neutral items to let the art be the focus of many rooms.” After deciding on a dining room wall for a vibrant Mr. Brainwash piece, for instance, she selected an ash table, cream-colored chairs and glass pendant lights to keep attention on the painting. A series of Roy Lichtenstein works lining an adjacent hallway creates a “pop art moment,” Freyre says, while white walls and reveal baseboards throughout add a subtle gallery feel.
In many ways, the house itself is a work of art. For the living area, walnut veneer and a slab of deep-green quartzite align to form a two-toned wall, each side displaying a striking portrait. Like the dining room, to keep the focus on the art wall, the designer curated neutral furnishings for the space, working in natural materials such as wood armchairs and a driftwood-and-glass coffee table. Across the arrangement, the marble reappears as a shelving backdrop in the glamorous bar area, where she displayed the owners’ crystal collection on a spectacular custom Lucite bar. “I’m always thinking about the mood of a space and what the clients are going to get and feel out of each area,” Freyre explains. “I needed a story that matched the level of entertainment that takes place. Each room serves a purpose.”
Together, all these thoughtfully planned moments allow the residence to function for bustling everyday life as well as for hosting special occasions. The black-and-navy kitchen, for instance, opens to a breakfast area for casual daily meals as well as the family room, which has sliding doors leading to the patio and pool—ideal for gatherings that spill outside. “You feel like the house is accommodating you, whether you’re having an intimate conversation or a large dinner party,” the designer says.
Although each space is striking in its own way, the home’s most consistent feature is also one of Freyre’s favorite elements: the views of the lush landscape, seen through expanses of glass throughout—the only “blank” walls in the house. “Everywhere you turn, the outside is part of the inside,” she muses. “The landscape is also art, and it fills up the eye.”