Coastal Cool

A Seaside State of Mind

Story by Carol Cortright ❧ Photographs courtesy of Studio M Interior Design

With a tug as strong as an outbound tide, Redington Beach’s Vizcaya charms the senses, from strong salty breezes wafting across deep, shaded terraces to the calming vision of its beachfront locale.

Photo by Susan Jeffers

Guess what?

A certain Tampa interior designer just made a splash on HGTV’s radar. 

“They came across my Web site and really liked my work,” explains Studio M’s Michelle Jennings Weibe. 

After on-camera auditions and meetings with HGTV’s Head of Program Development, Michelle’s found herself on their “short list” of potential designer appearances for a new show. 

“I enjoyed learning about the television industry and it was a very productive trip,” she says of a recent NYC jaunt. No commitments yet, but “apparently, I’ve passed the test to stay in their databank.” 

Fabulous, Michelle! VERTICAL is rooting for you!

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Overlooking golden sands and sparkling Gulf, Joel Cantor’s family getaway on the second floor of the eight-unit condo built by his development company, Cantor Partners, captivates all who cross the threshold.

Tampa interior designer Michelle Jennings Weibe of Studio M worked side-by-side with Cantor throughout the building process, from concept to reality. She assembled the standard finish and fixture options and completely decked out two of the units from top to bottom.

One of those belongs to the builder himself.

“Michelle has designed over a dozen properties for [the company] and we love them all,” says Joel Cantor. “She listens very carefully and generates a concept that exceeds the client’s dreams.”

Joel, wife Shannon and their four boisterous boys wanted a retreat that would “transport our family from our hectic daily lives to the realm of a dream vacation home....light colors and textures creating a modern touch that is warm, coupled with not taking ourselves too seriously.”

Michelle translated that into: “Let’s give this a fresh NYC vibe. Clean colors with some South Beach influence. A little deco in the lines and shapes. I looked out the terrace and was inspired by the view—cool greens, blues, beiges. I actually drove around with a bag of sea glass to make sure the colors matched.” From social gatherings to business entertaining, the Cantors’ condo makes quite an impression on its guests. “Everyone loves the kitchen,” says Michelle of this masterpiece surrounded by pixilated ocean: tiny glass tiles in cobalt and aquamarine wrap around the bar and backsplash.

A magnificent island of blue bahia granite anchors the room. Waves of alternately warm and cool maple and stainless slab door cabinets contain all manner of kitchen gadgetry.

“We had fun with the appliances,” says Michelle. “It’s like an appliance showroom. Double ovens,warming oven, wine cooler, huge Sub-Zero fridge. We spent a lot of time on the kitchen making it functional and beautiful.”

The master bedroom boasts the sensuous feel of big-city luxury with a plush, icy blue upholstered headboard and a wall of blue suede.

When she designed the place just a few years ago, many of the materials Michelle used were cutting edge, like the stunning guest bathroom counter made of thick, lagoon-blue Avonite. “This stuff is pretty hot now,” Michelle notes.

The condo showcases plenty of unique Bay area treasures and talent as well.

“We included quite a few pieces of local artwork,” Michelle says. “And the kitchen cabinets were done by Olde World Cabinetry. Cutting Edge Granite did the countertops.”

As for exceeding client’s expectations—“Joel wanted it totally custom,” she reiterates—Michelle even designed some of the furniture herself.

From her vision emerged the breakfast nook table and the living-room media cabinet, called into being by artisans at the South Shore Gallery in Apollo Beach.

To complement the sleek surfaces, Michelle chose a grasscloth-look woven silk wall covering as an accent. “We didn’t want to just paint the walls. We needed something to offset all the glass and stainless. In addition to texture, the silk adds a bit of shimmer,” she says.

If the Cantors’ Vizcaya condo had its own soundtrack, what would it be? “Nice mellow jazz with waves in the background,” Michelle suggests.

“I like how I feel as soon as I walk in. It’s very soothing. Very relaxing. I turn into a noodle when we’re out here,” she says of her family’s past visits. “The weight of the world is lifted off your shoulders—but at the same time, it’s very elegant, very chic.”

Similarly, Joel shares a favorite feature for his family: “We enjoy leaving the huge sliding doors open, falling asleep listening to the waves and birds. When someplace feels right, you instinctively know it.”

Michelle describes life at Vizcaya: “You wear a swim suit and cover-up from the minute you wake up and that’s it.”

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