Tucked away on an unassuming street in Coral Gables—a historic community in Miami—sits a five-bed, four-and-a-half-bath house that is now home to a couple and their three young daughters. The residence, which interior designer Jennifer Bunsa refers to as her “ideal project,” captures her unique approach to design. Call it high class northeast meets daring Miami. “That’s just part of my repertoire now,” Bunsa quips of her signature style, “it’s embedded in what I do.” And for that, Bunsa can thank her South Florida upbringing coupled with a 10-year stint spent living and working in New York City.
The kitchen is outfitted with white oak cabinets, Hansgrohe fixtures, and a Thermador stovetop and hood. A Rich Brilliant Willing light hangs above the concrete island surrounded by Meru counter stools from The Citizenry that have been covered in Josef Frank’s Italian Dinner fabric.
After briefly relocating to Connecticut pre-pandemic, Bunsa’s clients were ready to come home. Luckily, timing was most definitely in their favor. “They moved back right during the beginning of lockdown,” Bunsa says of the couple’s decision to head back down South. The couple chose to refresh the home, originally built in 1955, as a way to breathe new life—and sneak an extra bedroom—into their space. “The construction took forever,” she remembers of the four years she had been working on this particular project. One new primary bedroom, some upgraded lighting, and a few tweaks to the existing bathrooms later, and the space was complete. Well, almost.
“We were responsible for the house since [the homeowners] weren’t in town,” Bunsa says of the unexpected challenges she faced once tasked with decorating the abode. “When someone isn’t living there, it’s not getting cleaned; there’s no one there to accept deliveries; and, because of COVID, we didn’t have our normal installer team. So it was definitely physically challenging.” With no furniture in sight other than a left-behind vintage dining table—Bunsa’s clients had previously been renting out the home to friends—the Harvard-trained designer began her quest to create a warm and inviting space for her clients and their children.
When it came to the initial mood board, capturing a sense of cheerfulness and familiarity through the use of color was top of mind. “My clients and I were on the same page,” she says, “[they] really wanted to make this house [theirs] again.” At first glance, concrete floors and sky-high ceilings don’t typically ensue the “homey” feeling Bunsa was keen on achieving, but after dipping into the homeowners’ art collection, adopting warm wood tones, and scattering Tuareg mats throughout, the Coral Gables home started to feel lived-in.
With color and sophistication at the forefront of her decor options, one of Bunsa’s decisions stands out: joyful wallpaper in the entryway of the home. Created by Marthe Armitage, a U.K.–based talent who sketches all of the illustrations by hand and then hand-blocks her work on an antique lino press, this just so happened to be one of Bunsa’s favorite additions to the space.
Muted tones and special additions, such as an Isamu Noguchi Akari Light sculpture, which dangles effortlessly above the dining table, bring stillness to the space. (The specific light piece also wonderfully illuminates the vintage and custom-made rugs, which were sourced from Bunsa’s trips to Morocco.) This grounding act of design is a nod to Bunsa’s quintessential and arguably enviable style. “Having worked in New York City for so many years, I guess that’s just what I bring to the table,” she jokes of her ability to blend decadence with purity. One might say her formula is even the perfect combination.
“I’d send [them] images of the wallpaper as well as other ideas and [they’d] show them to the girls and they’d weigh in,” Bunsa recalls of her efforts to keep the entire family clued in on the design process. And while the girls had to edit down their plush toy collection, their beloved giraffe, sourced from ABC Carpet & Home in New York, made the cut.