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Remodeling to a Coral Gables house by United Architects

Project 12


These clients thought their house that was boring and colorless. "What can you do to update at it and bring it into the present era?”, they asked.

​This house was a 1950’s ranch house with wood shutters and columns in a dull brown color.  The clients hated the appearance.  They thought their house was boring.  They were looking for something original and more modern for their home.  The driveway they had was too small.  Inside the house the master bathroom was too small.

​As Coral Gables architects, we understand Coral Gables zoning and what is acceptable in the city. 

For starters, the city only allows sloped roofs.  Although there is a way to work around this, if you want your house to look like it has a flat roof.  In this case, for these clients, they thought their roof sloping was acceptable, they just wanted to update the façade and make modifications to their bathrooms inside the house.

The new design included the removal of the wood shutters which dated the house.  An entry feature was added breaking the continuous roof which made the house so dull looking.  The wood columns were replaced with cast columns and at the middle of the house, small cast columns were placed on cast stone pedestals.  This design broke the uniformity of the former front elevation. Cast concrete tile was added at the entrance to unify the facade. 

​A curved driveway was added along with new landscaping.  Much brighter colors were selected which make for a more interesting house.​

Inside the house the master bath was adjacent to another bathroom which served as a guest bathroom.  Since the guest bathroom did not need a shower (there was another bathroom on the other side of the house next to the pool), the shower was removed, and the area was incorporated into the master bathroom.  This allowed for a Roman tub which they otherwise would not have had the room for it.  The couple was very happy with this solution which solved their immediate needs for a roomier master bath.


Coral Gables is known for being difficult, particularly their structural department.  If you are going to make changes to the façades of the house, you must present your plans twice to the Board of Architects, first for the preliminary, and second, at the time the plans are finished and ready to be submitted for building permit.

In our case, we were not going to make any major structural changes to the house.  We were simply going to substitute the wood columns for steel columns and then cover the steel columns with the prefabricated cast stone columns.  At the time of this remodeling, they were less strict.  Today, they may require structural calculations.

Normally, when you go in front of the Board of Architects, you put the colors you want on the house in the plans, and you take paint chips to the meeting.  If you want to do more than one paint color on your house, you must present your scheme to the board.  There are, however, some pre-approved colors that you can use as long as the entire house was going to be one color.

In our case, the client and I wanted to use 3 colors.  When we appeared in front of the board, they said that we needed to color the elevations and bring the drawings back and they would be there until 11:00 AM.  We left, went to my office and put colors on the elevations with colored pencils.  We were so proud of our color scheme.  We went back and were immediately shot down.  Although there is an appeals process, this was not worth the fight.  We discussed chose two colors that they would accept and we got our approval.  Some things are worth the fight.  Paint colors are not one of them. 


View of front facade and driveway after remodeling
These are the "before" photos of the house

You can see where we were named one of the best Coral Gables architecture firm here.  If you have a Coral Gables project you

would like to discuss, call the principal of the firm, Maria Luisa Castellanos, R.A., LEED AP, at 305-439-7898 or email at

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