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Drew Limsky | Photo: Barry Grossman | April 11, 2014
A snowbird couple quickly outgrows mid-Atlantic traditionalism with the help of designer Steven G.
It was time for a change. The Washington, D.C.-area couple lives on the Potomac in a home that’s roughly 12,000 square feet. No problem there. Many well-heeled couples summer in the Northeast and winter in South Florida, and this particular couple chose a home in the Marquis skyscraper as a second residence. Their primary house was—expectedly, given its location—traditional.
But the four-floor, 8,000-square-foot Miami penthouse with the million-dollar views—we’re talking about one of the highest residences in the state of Florida—would require something else.
That something else would be delivered by Interiors by Steven G., which is known for creating cinematic homes that look like fantasies of the good life, places appropriate for celebrities and movie shoots. Steven Gurowitz, the firm’s chief executive and a South Florida icon, toured the couple’s primary home. “It had dark-wood crown moldings,” recalls the designer. “It had carved chairs and rolled-back sofas with tassels and fringe; it had wall moldings; it had area rugs on marble floors; and the draperies were tiebacks with tassels and more fringe. I would call it heavy Mediterranean.”
The wife remembers being impressed by Gurowitz’s professionalism at the outset. “When we interviewed five design firms, the first thing that was evident was that Steven was early for our initial meeting, while others were late,” she recalls. And his thoughtfulness sealed the collaboration. “We walked through a basic shell of an apartment [in the Marquis], and Steven started to ask us about our lifestyle. We looked at every room, and Steven was vocal regarding how each room would lay out according to our lifestyle.” And what became apparent was that their Miami residence would suit them perhaps better than their home up North. “They realized after living in a traditional environment that they really didn’t love the traditional environment, and that they really weren’t traditional people at heart,” Gurowitz says. “They felt their first home was too formal, too overdone, and it didn’t make them feel happy.” Happiness would be achieved through a six-month design and pricing process, followed by a 14-month delivery and installation period.
Once the decision to go modern was made, did the couple ever feel overwhelmed by the new territory they’d entered and how to make sense of the four floors? “Not at all,” says Gurowitz, explaining the logic behind the layout: “The bottom floor would contain the guest bedrooms, the guest bathrooms and what I’m going to call a miniature great room for the guests. As you went upstairs to the second level, you’d find the entrance, powder room, kitchen, dining and living areas.” The third floor was designated for the master suite, while the top floor boasted not only the pool and patio, but also the husband’s office and a sitting area. “Because the spaces were so defined,” the designer says, “they found the plan very livable.”
Livable, yes—a livable movie set. One showstopper among many is certainly the 1,459-square-foot master bedroom suite, which features an ultrasuede bed wall and Pratesi bed linens. By virtue of an interior glass wall that overlooks the apartment’s atrium, the bedroom seems to both float above and lord over the other floors and open spaces. “When reviewing the floor plan,” the wife recalls, “Steven and the team suggested removing the wall and inserting glass to enhance our most amazing views—then, by the push of a button, the glass becomes frosted for privacy.”
The effect is particularly dramatic due to the apartment’s open floor plan; not only does the glass bedroom wall allow for a more expansive view of the city, but it also looks out on striking interior elements, like dramatic dropped ceiling panels and staircases—all custom-built—that look like modernist sculpture. “The staircases were the single toughest job of the entire project,” Gurowitz says. “When the unit was built, it contained no finished stairways, only construction staircases.” To preserve the views and the light, the designer avoided adding walls, and he wanted the staircases to be architectural features. The result was glass steps with stainless steel side panels and glass railings. LED lights on the stairs make them present as green-tinted because the thicker the glass, the greener it appears. “It’s very sexy, to say the least,” Gurowitz says.
The wife calls the LED lighting “an amazing stroke of brilliance, as it made the staircases like artwork.” The custom-made glass pendants that hang above the stairs are delicate, so as not to detract from the scenic and architectural elements. “We believe, as a design firm, that it’s never about furniture,” Gurowitz offers. “It’s always about ceilings and other architectural aspects.”
But, as furnishings are a necessity, Interiors by Steven G.’s 100,000-square-foot South Florida showroom came in especially handy. Signature pieces were sourced from his showroom, such as the dining room chairs by Brueton—a line that, according to the designer, carries “the finest-made upholstery and stainless steel product in the United States—and the most expensive.” The white leather living room sofa is from Gamma, and the accompanying leather chairs (“I call them Bugs Bunny chairs—they look like ears”) are from Poltrona Frau. The three brands, it goes without saying, are all touchstones of contemporary American and Italian design.
So did Gurowitz successfully convert these clients to clean modernism? As the wife readily acknowledges, “Our current home is very heavy and traditional, so I’d say this was a departure—180 degrees in the opposite direction. Now we are considering redoing our other home.”
Living room sofa
Janus et Cie
Throughout the residence
Poltrona Frau Group
Living room chairs
Swivel chair in master suite
Throughout the residence
Wayne Lagana & Co.