A Clearwater Beach penthouse renovation wasn’t your typical clear-cut remodel. The clients, a couple from New York, wanted to create not just another vacation home, but a sophisticated retreat to rival the finest five-star hotel. The three bed, three-and-a-half bath home had plenty of room at 4,280 square feet under air, but that space was empty, echoing, and extremely linear.
The transformation of this space into a truly spectacular home was assured when the creative team of Michelle Miller and Ciera Thompson of Michelle Miller Design brought their special talents to the project.
“Just above this penthouse is the building’s pool and that not only gave us many constraints on our design, but there were drainage pipes everywhere, which we had to camouflage by incorporating them into our ceiling plan,” explains Miller
Miller and Thompson worked closely with the architect to come up with clever solutions to the challenges the renovation possessed. “For example, we designed soffits in front of every window into which the shades disappear when not electrically lowered,” explains Thompson. “This allowed us to maximize the height of every window.”
“We also designed many different types of ceilings in the home,” says Miller, “giving the illusion of height where we were actually prevented from raising the ceilings due to the drainage pipes.”
“Everything was along one spine with lovely western views of the Gulf, but was long and narrow with low ceilings and no division of the space at all,” architect Jordan Behar recalls.
The renovation was built around a plan that split the guest suites and master suites into separate wings using strategically placed interior elements, such as fireplaces, walls, and partial walls, to allow privacy for all and create common areas in the middle where the family and guests could come together.
“Careful space planning was required to create connected spaces that flowed, but the design was difficult because we had to work with an existing building. Therefore, we had to co-create with the already installed plumbing, electrical, and architectural features of the high-rise building,” explains Behar. “We had to be very creative.”
Pushing the creative envelope while still meeting a client’s practical needs is something for which Michelle Miller Design is known.
“We make a real deep connection to establish mutual trust with our clients. Learning their likes and dislikes and honoring their lifestyle is very important to us,” says Miller. “We start with a vision and walk our clients through the design process, from start to finish, until we make their dream and our mutual vision a reality.”
The restful palette in the inviting great room sets the tone for the rest of the home’s welcoming ambiance. Two Hickory Chair sofas are upholstered in tufted JF Fabric and accented with Calvin Klein cut velvet pillows. Between them is a glass-topped mahogany end table by EJ Victor. A clever white leather cocktail ottoman by Christopher Guy features a convenient wooden slider, perfect for balancing drinks. The Chaos Theory By Kavi rug from Jaipur Living combines the colors of the Gulf of Mexico and the beach where the owner played as a child.
A Christopher Guy silver-leafed Aster mirror and an original seascape flanked by Vol de Cristal Collection Fine Art Lamps sconces greet guests in this lovely foyer. The Theodore Alexander Ainslie console table hosts a John-Richard silver leaf tray and beneath it sits a pair of Christopher Guy ottomans upholstered in Romo fabric. The ceiling appliqué moulding set with a flush mount Crystal Enchantment light echoes the shape of the circular floor inset, designed by Miller, of Persian Blue and Calcutta Gold marble.
Woodbridge Onyx stools with cushions upholstered in creamy Holly Hunt leather offer seating at the expansive kitchen island topped with Macaubas Fantasy quartzite from Mont Krest. Leaded, frosted glass doors in the cabinetry flank an Art Deco-inspired custom backsplash, designed by Miller, of selected water-jet cut marble.
Solid carved mahogany stools by Christopher Guy offer seating at the elegant bar. A pair of Fine Art Lamps crystal pendant lights from the Lily Buds Collection shine upon the Mont Blanc quartzite counter from Mont Krest with a stainless steel butler/entertainment sink from Kallista’s Bacifiore Collection and Metropole fixtures from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. Custom cabinetry is inset with leaded, frosted glass doors and floating shelves backed by an antique mirror.
A trio of walnut-and-glass Sub-Zero wine refrigerators from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery are at the heart of this wine room. A bench against a leather-tufted wall provides a perch from which the owner, an avid wine collector, may peruse his 438 vintages. A floating cabinet, backed by a split-faced Crema Marfil wall, holds a tabletop corkscrew from Wine Enthusiast on its Mont Blanc quartzite countertop from Mont Krest. The antique mirror of the coffered ceiling hides pipes from the pool above and reflects light from the Sophie chandelier and sconces. A hexagon custom floor combines Crema Marfil, bark-honed limestone, and graphite wood.
The sofa by EJ Victor in this formal sitting room is upholstered in taupe chenille and holds Kravet pillows. Just beyond is the dining room, where the John-Richard glass-top table with two ebony and chrome macassar bases has seating for eight. A marquise chandelier by Fine Art Lamps, made of solid crystal pieces and silvered metal, illuminates the area.
Mahogany Megéve chairs by Christopher Guy, upholstered in button-tufted creamy Crypton chenille, provide elegant seating around the glass-topped dining room table, set on two John-Richard Macassar bases.
Miller designed a wrap-around marble wall in Royal Cream Marble from Mont Krest that divides the formal living room–which hosts the owner’s grand piano–from the rest of the great room. Here the wall holds a recessed television and a Planika ethanol gas linear fireplace. A Chaddock espresso-finished card table sports silver banding, and EJ Victor chairs with cutout backs clad in a shimmering navy Duralee fabric provide the seating. Overhead, a Hudson Valley Middlebury polished nickel ring pendant lights the bridge games hosted here.
Subtle glamour defines this sophisticated master bedroom. The classically curved oak headboard of this Century bed is fully upholstered in an ivory linen blend fabric from Duralee. The silk and organic cotton bedding is from the de’ Medici Celine Collection of Eastern Accents with Kravet shams. Twin Vanguard Roman stools, upholstered in Kravet linen, coordinate with the leather ottoman sitting in front of the EJ Victor settee. Like emerald-cut diamonds, the Currey & Company mirrors sit like jewels above the two-toned Century nightstands.
Marble takes the spotlight in this show-stopping guest bath. The custom floor by New Ravenna is a combination of black Nero Marquina and Danby white marble in an interlaced ribbon pattern from Mont Krest. Walls in the glass shower are polished Imperial Danby marble with bands of New Ravenna one-centimeter mosaic pieces. The shower floor is a New Ravenna Promenade mosaic in a basket weave. Black Titanium granite sits atop the walnut cabinet with an undermount sink and fixtures by ROHL from Ferguson, Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. Thomas O’Brien Edie Collection sconces from Visual Comfort & Co. flank the terraced mirrors by Uttermost.
Written by Kitt Walsh
Photography by Julio Aguilar
Michelle Miller Design
14603 Gulf Boulevard
Saint Petersburg, FL 33708
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
302 North Willow Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606
6795 114th Avenue North
Largo, FL 33773