In Mike They Trust

His clients were sojourning in Europe. That didn’t stop designer Mike Stake from completing their house. A story of a Venetian Islands home renovation

Anyone with a luxuriously itinerant lifestyle—like the owners of this glorious two-story penthouse on the Venetian Islands—should know Mike Stake, founder of Mike Stake Studio in Miami.

“We are used to being kind of a one-stop shop,” he explains. “We’re actually pretty fully integrated: we do interior design, we do construction management, owner representation, interior architecture. We do window coverings, repairs, carpentry, plaster work. We’ll cover an installation, design custom furniture, manufacturing, showroom buying—clients can get all that done with one call. So, we’re kind of a complete package.”

As it turns out, what Stake offers was exactly what one particular married couple needed to transform their newly purchased six-bedroom, six-bathroom condo. The buyers were clients of Jill Hertzberg (aka one of “The Jills” from Miami’s most recognized luxury real estate brokerages, The Jills Zeder Group), who made the introduction. “With each client, Mike takes the time and thought to put into it what they want and what they like to create the best home for them,” she explains.

The couple had just parted ways with their Mediterranean-style Sunset Islands home hoping for a more turnkey lifestyle in the contemporary penthouse. “They sold the house and then they moved most of their existing furniture into the unit,” Stake recalls, “and then kind of realized, taken as a whole, it wasn’t quite right. So they asked me to come in and kind of sift through things and figure out what really did work and what major holes we have.” Especially since they were eager to keep many of their prized furnishings and a large portion of their art collection, this was definitely no job for a run-of-the-mill interior designer.

However, the clients were already back home in Europe when the transition began and had plans to remain there for quite some time. Stake communicated with them by using Webex, email, Dropbox and other resources to bridge the distance. “It was trust, but verify,” he says. “We would send them images and do FaceTime and all that.”

Generally, Stake explains, the 6,400-square-foot sun-soaked condominium already had a decent configuration; however, he immediately spotted the need for an architectural intervention: “You walk in this super impressive unit. But the entry was a little bit weird. There was this awkward column on the left and then a closet on the right. The first thing you were confronted with was this coat closet. So, we replaced the door with a flush door then did wall coverings on the whole wall. The coat closet disappeared.”

Stake also repaired the automated house system and ensured that blackout curtains and sheers were incorporated. “I love the view,” he says, “but sometimes the amount of light does get a little overwhelming. We needed to filter it.”

As the previous owners had merged two units to create the double-height penthouse, one of the former kitchen spaces was already repurposed as a bar and the upstairs area included two enormous primary suites. But Stake says the rooms that were most important to the couple were the office they wished to share and the family room, which had to be comfortable for television watching and movie nights.

Keeping in mind all the supply chain issues during the pandemic, Stake chose to work with the Bright Group out of New York to create both the curved sofa in the family room and the straight sofa with extended legs in the living room: “We wanted to make sure the items were manufactured in the U.S., so we were dealing with just a truck delivery as opposed to containers.” He also knew the company would be able to honor his request for altered dimensions.

Stake did, however, wait for the couples’ additional artwork to arrive from Europe and, in the interim, helped place the pieces virtually with Photoshop. By the time the homeowners were ready to return to Miami, their home was complete.

And then, a coda: Unfortunately, the owners eventually realized they could not spend enough time in South Florida to enjoy the finished product consistently, so they listed it with Hertzberg for $11.7 million. As of press time, the condo was available furnished (for obvious reasons). Hertzberg says that if the next buyer wants to personalize it, she would again recommend Stake, who just may experience a second act with this prized property: “Clients really love working with him, because they love the end result and they love the process with him.”

Riki Altman-Yee
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