Carla Maria Design: Transforming History into Modern Aesthetics

Welcome to the latest installment of our podcast, Tile Trends by Tile Club! We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Carla and Rosa Palenzuela of Carla Maria Designs, a mother-daughter powerhouse in the interior design world. Their incredible journey began with the transformation of a 1940s Spanish waterfront gem in Coral Gables, Florida. This duo is redefining design by blending day-to-day elegance with vintage charm and modern flair. They've honed the craft of honoring a home's history while fulfilling the modern-day desires of their clientele. The Palenzuela's approach isn't just about aesthetics; it's a narrative of each home, encapsulating a true dream home's essence. Their story is a testament to their belief in the magic of restoration, sustainability, and the joy of bringing a unique character to every space.

Carla spoke passionately about their start in interior design, which blossomed from lovingly restoring and remodeling their 1940s Spanish home. They were meticulous in preserving the home's charm, incorporating its character with modern elements – a process that clearly resonates in their current projects. Their eye for design, particularly their use of colorful tiles, has not only impressed friends and family but also attracted a substantial Instagram following, where they offer advice and showcase their eclectic style.

Rosa, with roots in Northern Spain, shared an inspiring story about her family home, a historic house that once stood as a jail during the Spanish Civil War. The original tiles there left a deep impression on her – a reverence for history and sustainability that she carries into their projects. The Palenzuelas are committed to environmental friendliness by integrating reclaimed vintage tiles, which they have personally sourced from Spain, into their designs. These unique pieces have become a signature in their work, honoring their history and reducing environmental impact.

Their conversation with Tile Club's Lindsay Fluckiger touched on the importance of sustainability in design. The Palenzuelas see it as their duty to preserve and cherish the little history that homes in the United States might have. This dedication is particularly poignant in their own Miami home, where they were able to save and maintain the original Cuban tiles from 1940, lending authenticity and a rich narrative to their space.

Their work is a blend of past and present, a dance between old and new. As Carla Maria Designs, they encourage their clients to embrace the unique character that vintage elements can add to modern homes. They inspire others to see beyond the current trends and appreciate the beauty and durability that vintage tiles can bring to a space. Their mission is a heartfelt tribute to the past, a way to keep stories alive through the transformative power of design.

Carla and Rosa's beautiful 1940's Spanish style home in Coral Gables, Florida.

The Focal Point of Design: Tiles

Tiles aren't just an afterthought for Carla Maria Designs; they're the heartbeat of the renovation. As Rosa pointed out, the tile is the first thing you choose, the element around which everything else revolves. This isn't just about picking a color or a pattern; it’s about setting the tone for the entire space. And their enthusiasm for this stage of design is palpable. She finds joy in the challenge of pairing wall and floor tiles, a process that sets the foundation for the rest of the space.

These beautiful vintage Spanish tiles bring history to the forefront in this modern meets vintage bathroom design.

One of the key insights offered by Rosa during the conversation is the consideration of light and environment when choosing tiles. She doesn't like darkness; she thrives on natural light and the outside environment being brought into the space. This philosophy was vividly illustrated in their renovation in Spain. Tile Club's Lake Moon Ceramic Subway Tiles and Mallorca ceramic tiles transformed the third-floor bathroom and the guest house bathroom into something out of a fairy tale – a cozy, princess-like ambiance nestled in the mountains, complemented by the tiles' vintage vibe.

Lake Moon ceramic subway tiles steal the show in this charming bathroom located in beautiful Spain.

Beyond Aesthetics: Practicality and Emotion

Tiles are more than just the “skin” of a space; they are a practical choice that can affect the feel and function of a room. But for Carla, it's also about emotion and personal connection. Rosa’s mention of a project that hasn't been published yet – a house in the Bahamas – highlighted how the choice of tiles can resonate with the natural beauty of the surroundings. The chosen tiles matched the turquoise ocean, effectively bringing the majesty of the waters into the home. This shows how tiles can transcend their role as part of the decor to become a narrative element that tells a story about the place.

Stunning yet simple Mallorca Ceramic Tiles create the perfect escape in this renovated Spanish bathroom paired with vintage wallpaper.

Advice for Renovators: Decisiveness and Quality

Rosa's advice to clients is to be decisive. She stresses the importance of not overwhelming clients with choices but guiding them towards a decision that complements their space and reflects their personality. And when it comes to materials, the message is clear: invest in quality. It's better to spend more initially on high-quality tiles than to pay the cost of replacing inferior products later on.

Design Wisdom For Listeners

"Don't be afraid," says Rosa, advocating for the preservation of a home's character, while Carla encourages homeowners to follow their instincts and express themselves through their spaces. Their collective advice emphasizes authenticity and the courage to make a space truly your own.

The Tile Club celebrates the work of designers like Carla and Rosa, who not only create stunning spaces but also advocate for sustainability and historical preservation through their craft. Their dedication to reviving the old and fusing it with the new aligns perfectly with the timeless appeal of tiles – a material that has stood the test of time from ancient Rome to modern Coral Gables.

Join us next time as we continue to delve into the fascinating world of tiles, design, and the stories behind the spaces we cherish. To our listeners, keep an eye on Carla Maria Designs – their journey is a masterclass in creating spaces that are not just homes, but legacies.

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