This Miami-based designer turned her childhood home into a world of color and pattern for her own young family
As a child, Jennifer Bunsa spent many happy hours on the shag rug in her bedroom in Miami, building elaborate Lego houses. Over 30 years later, it is in this same bedroom that Bunsa, now an interior designer known for her relaxed and elegant spaces, puts her six-year-old son, Jack, to sleep in a bunk bed that she has transformed into a comfortable tent. . “It’s still amazing to me that this is her bedroom now,” she said. “I guess that’s what people call coming full circle.”
Bunsa and her parents moved from the modest mid-century house in historic The Roads when she was eight years old to live in Orlando. But her family kept the accommodation, which had been passed on to them by her great-grandmother, as rental property. Bunsa eventually studied architecture at Harvard, practiced at Rogers Marvel Architects in New York City, married, and started her own family. But the house was still in his heart. “It has kept so many memories, especially of my [late] mom, ”she said. In 2016, Bunsa and her husband, Bryan Whitefield, were living in a rental in Brooklyn with their then-toddler when they started craving more space. “We wanted a garden but we weren’t interested in the New York suburbs,” she recalls. They realized the Miami house, just a 12-minute drive from South Beach, was the answer staring them in the face.
Measuring around 2,000 square feet, the house has the same footprint as when it was built in 1948. But Bunsa has refreshed almost every square inch, tweaking the layout and mixing furniture that reflects his zeal for color, Mid-century Scandinavian patterns and design. She notes: “My goal was to respect the house, but also to update it in a way that looks like us. “
In the Florida Room – or solarium – which serves as a conversation space, office, and play area, Bunsa replaced the louvered windows with hurricane-resistant glass and replaced the terra-cotta floor with limestone, adding a vintage Moroccan rug. The focal point is a loveseat upholstered in Josef Frank’s Mirakel fabric, one of the Swedish designer’s many prints. A wallpaper hand-blocked by another of Bunsa’s favorites, Marthe Armitage, carries from a wall to the kitchen, once clad in laminate and melamine and closed with pocket doors. Bunsa opened up the kitchen to the dining area and installed a golden Calacatta marble backsplash, radically lighting up the space. However, she made sure to preserve the corrugated glass embedded in the wall on either side of the sink. “When I was little, I would sit on the counter and track my finger on the bumpy surface.”
Other subtle changes have made a dramatic difference. She whitewashed the wood floors in the living room and bedrooms, which she deemed too orange for her liking, and moved a hallway, creating space for a media wall in the living room. Functioning as her own client, Bunsa also trained
splurge and save. The Lindsey Adelman chandelier in the dining room is an example of the first, the CB2 sectional on the patio the second. The kitchen cabinets and her bedroom wardrobe are a bit of both: good ol ‘IKEA in disguise with semihandmade walnut doors.
“According to my father, I spent too much on our old house,” she laughs. “But you know what? It’s okay with Jack then. —Catherine Hong