Designer Mike Stake’s clients knew the South Beach condo unit they purchased would need a renovation at some point. At first, the couple figured, a simple redesign would do. But after living there for a month, they realized their vision for the waterfront vacation home required more than making minor upgrades throughout the space.
Rather, it entailed renovating walls, acquiring unique pieces from around the world and incorporating elements that span decades. The only part of the project that could remain unchanged was the eight-month deadline: Stake had to finish the residence in time for a 60th birthday party for one of the owners. “It was pretty incredible,” he recalls of the challenge, able to laugh about it now. “The project scope more than doubled in size. And we made the date.”
However, Stake wasn’t as confident at the start. When the project kicked off, the homeowners’ vision was a bit in flux. “We knew we wanted a sophisticated look but not stuffy, with some Miami appeal,” one owner says. “But we were uncertain where to go from there.” The designer guided them toward the idea of a masculine, Miami feel— without being too much of either. “This sent me in a direction of more urban chic than beachy,” he explains. Stake’s first move was to stain the oak flooring black, a departure from traditional sand tones seen in the area. He then balanced the dramatic look with more endemic selections, such as a terrazzo kitchen island and a sunrise-inspired mural in the guest bedroom. “Lively Miami undertones provide a sense of place and take the edge off the home’s urban-chic modernism,” the designer says.
Another transformation occurred when the clients made an ambitious request: to find a home for a 65-inch television in the modest living area. Stake created space by relocating the door to the main bedroom next to the bar, expanding a prime wall for the television. He clad the wall in oak paneling for a masculine feel and installed hidden hinges that allow the door to integrate fully, appearing seamlessly flush when closed. In a similar spirit, the designer commissioned a diptyque that conceals the television when not in use, parting via a custom lift when needed.
Such decisions point to the creative flexibility the owners gave Stake for the design. Because this isn’t their primary residence, the couple was open to sensitive materials and items, as opposed to strictly performance fabrics and pieces fit for daily use. Permission granted, the designer incorporated special touches like a cotton-velvet sofa in the living area and a silver raffia wallcovering in the main bathroom. “There are many substantial luxurious things, but it’s not heavy handed,” he says. “Hues of pink and jewel tones, mingled with vintage finds, further soften the tone.”
The furnishings, too, represent varying eras and origins so as not to give the high-rise a look that is too Miami modern. “We both have a clean, contemporary taste, so Mike did a good job pulling in vintage pieces but keeping with the overall contemporary look,” one of the owners says. In the guest bedroom, 1970s Lucite lamps on midcentury Italian nightstands bookend a vintage rattan headboard. The main bedroom’s 1950s Italian chandelier plays off contemporary oxidized-metal pendants above a 1960s settee from Denmark. The living area cabinet is from Sweden, the kitchen barstools are from Copenhagen and the barware is midcentury. “This home could be in New York, London or São Paulo and is by far the most globally sourced project I’ve worked on,” Stake says.
Outside, the designer organized the generous-size terrace overlooking Biscayne Bay into an enticing alfresco dining area and lounge. Among the seating options, he included a waterproof queen-size bed, a playful piece offering additional lounging. “A little whimsy brings luxury down a notch,” Stake says.
The multipurpose space proved valuable during the client’s birthday party, when dozens of guests from across the country gathered, pre-pandemic, to celebrate. It was the ideal reveal of the residence, received to much approval. “We love the attention to detail,” one of the owners says. “It’s a beautiful unit.”