Tampa’s Studio M is a full-service interior design firm founded by principal designer Michelle Jennings Wiebe in 1991. Having lived in Florida for most of her life, Michelle has always been inspired by coastal living . “Florida is home to not only beautiful tropical weather, but also to some of the most luxurious waterfront homes in the world. Over the years, our firm has been blessed to work on some truly exquisite waterfront projects.” Shake off the winter blues as Michelle walks us through a warm and sophisticated Florida home that challenges notions of tropical design.
Michelle says, “My clients did not want their waterfront home to have the traditional tropical feel that so many Florida homes have. Instead, they wanted a sleek, contemporary home that melded their chic lifestyle with the oceanfront exterior of their home. What I call “living coastal contemporary” is both a lifestyle and design philosophy that I used in defining the theme for this home. With so much beauty right outside their door, they wanted to be able to see it and enjoy it from different parts of the house. The tropical vibe is subtle — this house make sense anywhere in the country. It’s not themed, but it does reflect the beauty of the area.”
I presented my clients with a rendering of a contemporary living room that was almost identical to the finished one shown above (minus the dog). The TV wall in particular was definitely a hit! They loved the polished concrete wall and gas fireplace that served as the room’s focal point. My clients were so enamored by this room that they decided they wanted this clean, yet warm style throughout the house. Thus, “living coastal contemporary” was born!
The sophisticated, yet totally accessible feel of the living room continues into the dining room. Neutral walls combined with the dark, oiled wood floors provide the perfect contrast for the room — not to mention the back wall that offers another conversation starter and focal point for the room. This wall was designed to showcase my clients’ prized glass collection (discussed at each and every dinner party, I’m sure). One of my favorite pieces in this room is the dining room table — a custom creation I designed featuring “color blocks.” Imagine yourself eating dinner while watching the beautiful Florida sunset through those huge windows. Truly spectacular!
There is no place in this entire house that resonates “living coastal contemporary” more than the kitchen. The sleek, bronze cabinets and black island set the mood for the room, while the custom-designed stainless steel hood, high-end appliances and cabinet hardware show that this room is more than just a pretty face. It’s the center of the home, used for serious cooking and entertaining. I love the glass bar top raised over one of the islands. The addition of swivel bar stools made this kitchen fully functional for the entire family to enjoy. Remember, contemporary design should not only look sleek, but also be livable.
Next we visit the master bedroom. In this space, the clients were looking for a Zen-like retreat. A custom-designed bed with built-in nightstands, luxury bedding, along with custom pendant lights provide a sanctuary like none other. The full wall of oceanic views, a fireplace and comfy seating area further wipe away the stresses of the day. Also notice the retractable TV — what better way to tune out the outside world than storing distractions in the ceiling?
Like the master bedroom, my clients also wanted the master bath to be a place to unwind. The jacuzzi tub and rain shower both offer an escape from the stresses of the day. The tile selection in this room was specifically chosen to complement the “living coastal contemporary” theme. The iridescent, metallic tortoise-like tile around the tub was a perfect match for a home where sea turtles swim nearby. Subtle touches like this embrace the tropical vibe without being themed or kitschy. Here’s an uber-contemporary room that offers a sleek aesthetic combined with a relaxing environment. That’s what contemporary design is all about.
Living in Florida has many benefits, but my favorite is simply sitting outside and enjoying the breathtaking scenery. I wanted to make sure my clients could enjoy this peace in their home, too. The picture on the left is an outdoor kitchen that truly defines “living coastal contemporary” — a seamless juxtaposition of indoor comforts and outdoor beauty. You may recognize the room on the right. This is the same dining room we toured earlier, but this angle shows how the it can also serve as an outdoor dining area. By simply opening the sliding glass doors, the dining room is instantly transformed into the perfect place for enjoying the cool summer breeze. “Living coastal contemporary” style is all about comfort, sophistication and embracing the beauty of nature. I’m so proud of this house because it encapsulates everything I stand for as a designer and meets the needs of my clients. When beauty and functionality come together, it’s a match made in heaven.