We wanted a home that could be filled with family and friends and flow well for gatherings, large and small.
The hunt for the right place to call home can be laborious and tiring, but when you do eventually stumble on your dream house, you tend to forget about the process.
Peter Small and Joannah Bodden Small may not have “stumbled” upon Sardinia Close, so to speak, but their hunt for the perfect home certainly ended with no less happy an ending.
The newlyweds were having breakfast together at their normal spot, Cimboco, in 2007 when a sketch for a home in Crystal Harbour happened in a very unexpected way: on a napkin.
“We had spent so much time looking at house plans, touring homes we admired and talking to people about the design process,” Joannah says.
That sketch was then taken to Peter’s brother Rohan Small, who helped the couple nail a proper design outline.
The house would eventually become a true labor of love for the couple’s extended family and be built by Peter’s father Denton Small, of Small’s Construction.
“The kids say that Grandad built our home so strong that even the big bad wolf could never blow it down,” she laughs.
Family and function
Joannah and Peter, who will celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2016, were on their honeymoon in Rome when she woke up one morning to find Peter at the desk in their hotel. No doubt inspired by his idyllic Italian surroundings, the consummate professional was already looking at house plans for the couple’s first home: a grand residence in Crystal Harbour that would eventually be called Sardinia Close and designed in a style described as “modern Mediterranean.”
The Smalls liked a modern aesthetic but wanted a “warm and inviting feeling” for guests. A 24-foot ceiling in the 8,000-square-foot home’s great room sets the tone for many a large family gathering at the Small’s home. A mix of marble tiles and Brazilian wood flooring, paired with mahogany and Cherrywood finishes, give the space a lived-in feel, even set against the show stopping glamour of Sardinia Close’s stunning high ceilings and wide, open spaces.
“We wanted a home that could be filled with family and friends and flow well for gatherings, large and small,” Joannah shares. “I grew up in a family where we alternated between my grandparents’ homes for Sunday lunch with extended family friends.
“It was not unusual to have 50 plus people – aunts, uncles, cousins – all enjoying lunch and fellowship and celebrating special occasions.”
There is no shortage of space for such gatherings at Sardinia Close. In the grand room, a separate dining room and a full wet bar provide ample space for more formal occasions.
In nice weather, the back deck and swimming pool are the places to be for swimming and outdoor play. In bad weather, the couple can rest easy that the home is protected; the large exterior windows and doors feature a “coastal package” and are Dade County Category-5 hurricane protected.
Hospitality at home
A swim-up bar was another inspiration from the couple’s travels.
“While on vacation in Cabo in 2007, we spent a considerable amount of time at the swim-up bar at the resort, and so we knew that feature was a must,” Joannah says of the outdoor pool and deck area, which gets frequent use for birthday parties and family events.
Make your guests feel welcome. Cater for any allergies, food sensitivities or preferences. Be aware of particular food and drink items guests love and have those on hand.
Yet another piece of inspiration from that trip to Italy adds even more elegance and entertainment potential to Sardinia Close: a custom, temperature-controlled basement wine cellar.
“Peter was determined to build a home which included a wine cellar. He coordinated the design of the cellar and it is really a phenomenal addition to our home,” she says.
The space created a chance to make more memories with family and friends; all were invited to a “stock the cellar” party where friends each brought a favorite bottle of wine and a hand-written note.
Joannah says gathering loved ones together is important to their lifestyle. “My parents frequently entertained and so I was accustomed to seeing our home filled with their friends and business acquaintances. Hospitality was a way of life.”
When asked what the absolute must-haves are for entertaining in the Small household, Joanna’s answers are fast and earnest: “fresh flowers, delicious food and lots of laughter.”
Hospitality: a way of life
with Joannah Bodden Small
Depending on the event, Joannah uses the open plan of the grand room at Sardinia Close for cocktail gatherings and dinner parties, using seating, table heights and other elements to reimagine the space. Whatever your space or occasion, here are a few tips for making the most of your next event at home:
“Make your guests feel welcome. Cater for any allergies, food sensitivities or preferences. Be aware of particular food and drink items guests love and have those on hand.
“Arrange your kitchen and any serving areas so that guests are able to find things easily and help themselves if they choose. I arrange my kitchen so that the kids’ items are low enough for them to help themselves and ‘serve’ their own friends. One year Asher filled sippy cups with water for his uncles – it was very cute!
“Be ready when guests arrive and remember to leave yourself enough time to take moments and spend quality time with each guest.
“If possible, try not to set an end time and clear your schedule as much as possible for the remainder of the day. We found very early on that no matter what time we may have started the get-together, it would not be unusual for evening to come and to find people happily relaxing. Those are the times we smile and know our home has lived up to the dream we hoped it would be: a place of peace and joy.”