Monique Miller of Calimia Home
Tell us about the first piece of design that really mattered to you?
After living in NYC for years, my husband, Gustaf, and I knew we wanted to put down roots in Miami. Of all the charming neighborhoods, we landed on El Portal, which is fondly referred to as the ‘Bird Sanctuary’ for its large trees that are home to all kinds of exotic birds. We fell in love with an amazing property with an old, Mediterranean-inspired carriage house from the 1930s.
That first house is when I really discovered interior design. It was our first project and our first home in Miami – it was a very special property despite all the work. Through designing our own house, I fell in love with the whole design process – turning it into a home sparked a creative outlet for me that I didn’t know was there.
Give us a little insight into your design process. From initial meetings to breaking ground and beyond, what aspect do you enjoy most?
Through multiple meetings, we get to know the client and discover their lifestyle needs and wants. Once the client signs off on the design direction we get to the conceptual and schematic design. I consider this the start of the creative process — my favorite part. I like to start with the interior/exterior architecture and surroundings of the home and then work my way in.
At our final design meeting, we present 2D and 3D drawings, room boards, and samples of fabrics and finishes so the client can really visualize each space. We then move to the ordering process which, depending on the scale of the project, can be hundreds of items. These large installs can take a few weeks to deliver a picture-perfect turn-key home for our client.
Your first foray into design involved importing fine art and home décor. How has this background influenced the way you source unique pieces for clients?
Gustaf had a shipping business when we first moved to Miami, Wynwood Shipping, where he specialized in shipping fine art and home furnishings year-round. Now we source pieces from all over the world, and thankfully, his experience helps us get them back here safe and sound for our clients. It is so important for us to bring these standout pieces to our projects; it’s what makes them special and unique.
Decor trends seem to come and go so quickly these days. Do you have any tips for someone who is trying to establish a more timeless interior aesthetic?
We always suggest going with timeless and classic design choices for the hard finishes of your home. I like to reference old design books, hotels, and travel photos. You’ll see a consistent pattern of materials being used in each of these designs like classic subway tile, stone floors, raw brass, plaster, and wood floors. Keep it simple, pick good materials, and don’t overthink the design.
Your projects are often informed by the home’s existing history and architecture. With Villa Belmonte as an example, how did you use design to enhance the home’s 1920s Spanish architecture?
The architecture was so beautiful inside and out at Villa Belmonte, it gave us the perfect foundation for the furnishings inside. We took a minimalist approach, taking care to select paint and furnishings that showcase the building’s artful details and contribute to the laid-back vibe our clients wanted for their everyday life. The Breakfast Room is the perfect example of this harmony and balance. We brought in a tulip table, Ton cane chairs, and a custom banquette linen bench.
The exterior was just as important a part of that vision for their new life at home. The outside space is surrounded by lush landscaping and anchored by arches in a private courtyard. We created a patio space outside of the family room, perfect for entertaining with dining and lounge space overlooking the pool, the South Florida dream.
We’re fortunate to have worked with you on a few projects. What considerations are front of mind when you are choosing a rug for a space?
Color, texture, and feel are all things I consider when choosing from our Armadillo library. I typically lay out all my materials, and paint colors and then start selecting rugs to see what feels right. The standard sizes are great, but I also love that I can customize any of your rugs to fit the space right.
Do you have any go-to sources for inspiration?
I love looking through old and new design books, I have a nice selection in my office and I'm constantly ordering more. Our travels have also served as a great source of inspiration for me. Every summer we travel to Sweden and Copenhagen, where I am inspired by the Scandinavian lifestyle and design principles. And of course, there are so many interesting design accounts and hotels around the world to follow on Instagram.
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