Design — 03 February 2017
Designers set high bar in high-rise style

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

City & Shore Magazine

Waterfront or cityscape views are the attractions of high-rise life, and designers do their best to enhance – not detract from – the million-dollar views. They are mindful that the ocean may be beautiful during the day, for example, but resembles a black hole at night. Some prefer to design the spaces so owners face the view; others use the view as a backdrop. These three South Florida designers set the bar high for high-rise style.



Mike Stake fell in love with the view of downtown Miami, South Beach and the Government Cut jetty at the 1000 Venetian Way condo on Miami Beach. But he wasn’t in love with the interior, so he gutted the 2,500-square-foot condo and negotiated for a year with the condo association to enlarge it to 4,500 square feet.

“When I sat on the sofa I feel like I am on a boat,” he says of his former residence. “The goal was to not obstruct the view but bring it into the home with colors, materials and texture.”

One of the most dramatic views is from the rooftop, which he describes as a blank slate. Stake created a spa-inspired design with a conversation area, an outdoor bed and a heated spa with a waterfall that lights up at night. Behind the spa is a large vegetable bed where he planted tomatoes, peppers and herbs. There is also an outdoor shower, dining table and grill.

The third floor, which used to be the master bedroom, is now the living area/kitchen. This level has the best view and is the prime area for conversation and watching television. The bedroom was relocated to the second floor.

Stake’s addition of a glass elevator and the adjacent open staircase is the most dramatic element in his design.




Frances Herrera faced a challenge in designing a condo on the 12th floor of the Palms in Fort Lauderdale. The new owner, a snowbird with traditional taste, bought the condo furnished.

“Her house in New Jersey was very traditional,” Herrera says. “She wanted the condo to feel fresh and coastal but not too contemporary. When she first moved in, the furnishings were mostly brown and burgundy. We took the traditional design and gave it a fresh approach with new lighting, accessories and artwork.”

Herrera saw no point in replacing the traditional pieces that were well made and in good condition. She added accents of coastal blues and metallic pieces to enhance the ocean views.

In the living area, she kept the brown sectional and updated it with blue pillows, a sculptural lamp, a new area rug in a large damask pattern with a contemporary feel. She reupholstered the round tufted ottoman, transforming the look from burgundy velvet to aqua velvet.

She updated the traditional bed in the master bedroom with an ivory and gray contemporary rug, mirrored end tables, lamps in blue glass and contemporary art depicting x-rays of seashells. The walls were painted a subtle shade of lavender and the bedding picked up the accent colors of gray and lavender.

“Many people think a condo has to be contemporary or modern, she says. “This design shows that you can highlight a traditional style and still look fresh.”




What do you do if you love the view but don’t have enough space?

Juan Poggi’s clients bought two condos to double the space from 2,400 to 4,800 square feet. They now had views of the city as well as the ocean.

“We gutted it completely and had to reset everything,” Poggi says of the vacation home in Sunny Isles’ Jade Ocean. Originally there were six bedrooms with the combined space. The new plan enlarged the master bedroom and eliminated one bedroom.

“We had a situation in the dining area. One of the columns housed the sound system and the upstairs neighbor wouldn’t let us take it down for even a day so we decided to make the column a feature.”

The clients wanted to have enough room to seat 14 people in the open living room because three families often come to visit.

The daughter’s bedroom was designed around a large-print wallpaper she selected. Poggi selected the wooden four-poster bed with thin posts so the view would not be obstructed.



Frances Herrera
Frances Herrera Interior Design, 401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Suite 130-503, Fort Lauderdale, 954-376-1909,

Juan Poggi
Poggi Design, 2030 S. Douglas Road, #120, Coral Gables, 305-448-5469,

Mike Stake
Mike Stake Studio, 927 Lincoln Road, Suite 212, 305-433-8211.


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