What Does it Take to Make a Great Home?

The Science and Art of Home Design

Your home is your castle. That, at least, is what Sir Edward Coke had to say about it at the turn of the 17th century, a time when the idea of home as a comfort zone really came into play. Before that, according to Witold Rybczynski (author of “Home” and “The Most Beautiful House in the World”), our homes were places of crowding in shared spaces, where a single large room was used for cooking, eating, doing business, spending time with family and friends, and sleeping.

In the 1600s, thanks to the middle-class Dutch, homes began to take on roles more familiar to us today — places of refuge and solace, where you could find a bit of privacy and live with your nuclear family.

Today the art of home design has reached a kind of rococo, where we ask professionals to help us achieve elegance, warmth, and balance with superior layouts and well-chosen furnishings. The scatter and chaos we all go through when we are young and indifferent to home design (think of those college days) gives way to a more studied approach to our domiciles. The results can be quite spectacular, as we reveal in the three displays of quality work by local interior designers, followed by the stunning pool designs of Gables-based Mosaicist.

RELATED: Diving into Mosaics with Ray Corral

Home Design

Filling your home with the best accoutrements is another challenge, in terms of everything from bathroom mirrors to nightstands by your bedsides. Sometimes we also defer to our expert designers when choosing what goes where. Other times we come across items that we simply must have. Coral Gables is filled with purveyors of all things home, from lighting to patio furniture. Following our look at completed interiors, we offer a quick guide to some of the more interesting pieces homeowners can source here in the Gables.

Finally, we take a quick look at four local homes that have been in the Gables for a full century, how they looked then and how they look now. Even as we head deeper into the 21st century, it’s always edifying to look at our heritage of historic homes, which still define the City Beautiful.

Historic Homes

So, what does it take to create the perfect home?

“I would say that the most important thing in a home is making it a comfortable refuge for the owners,” says Monique Selman, the CEO of Albany Homes, a general contractor based in Coral Gables. “Some may want grandeur; some may want something more subtle and inward oriented. But all want a place that provides quiet, private spaces for individuals.”

As for the current trends in home designs, Selman says that functionality is now a prime concern. “The kitchen is becoming the center of the home, the place where the family congregates, so it’s necessary to provide an adjoining dining space. And there is a growing desire for a family room, as well as other smaller refuges, like studies and gyms. It’s all about providing private spaces separate from those where friends and other non-family members can be entertained.”

Designing Homes, Home Design

Adriana Hoyos, who recently opened her flagship atelier in the Shops at Merrick Park (she is represented with showrooms in 17 countries), designs furniture and well as provides interior design services. An admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright, Hoyos says, “He is an inspiration given that he was an architect, as well as both an interior and furniture designer.”

While she avoids following market trends, Hoyos does pay attention to things like what’s happening in fashion — a particular color or fabric that can provide inspiration for furniture. In the end, enjoyment is ultimately king. “I like my pieces to be sculptural [but] of course, my team and I also pay a lot of attention to comfort, and textures, as well as trying to understand the needs of clients.” And that, ultimately, is what makes a great home: the happiness of those who occupy it.