Architect Mike Stroh has recently completed what is arguably his most meaningful project to date – his own family home.
The Colombian native, who is president of Trio Cayman Ltd., moved into the two-story, canal-front home in Crystal Harbour in February 2014.
He lives there with his Venezuelan-born wife Bella and children, Abraham, 9, Rosana, 7, and David, 4, along with their beloved dog, a Great Dane called Tango.
Residents of Cayman since 2011, Mike and Bella were married in Miami, where their three children were born.
“After living in Miami for almost a decade, we realized we wanted them to grow up surrounded by a healthier environment,” says Mike.
“In exploring various options, we had a good friend who talked to us about this paradisiacal place called the Cayman Islands, and about how wonderful it was for his kids to grow up here. He sold us the island during a three-hour lunch.”
Crystal Harbour was their top choice to build a home because they love the neighborhood and the fact that their plot of land is located at the end of a cul-de-sac, which gives them a sense of privacy and safety.
The home’s style is Caribbean contemporary with a Key West twist, and its design elements are reminiscent of homes in Seaside, Florida, a city based on the principles of new urbanism.
Although Mike loves designing contemporary homes for a living, he wanted a family home that would belong to its surroundings with generous indoor-outdoor areas and many entertainment capabilities.
“We love to have people over to our house, and we have enjoyed that about it very much,” he says.
The home’s exterior is painted a soft apple green with hints of mint, a sentimental color choice for Bella as it’s similar to a house next door to her childhood home in Venezuela.
“Every day she would look at this house and dream about one day building one of the same color for her family, so that’s what we did,” says Mike.
The 7,400-square-foot home includes an indoor-outdoor entranceway that doubles as a sitting room and opens to the main home and guest home on either side.
Bahama and plantation shutters cover many of the windows and doors, further injecting a Caribbean vibe.
LaCantina folding doors have been installed in the living room, kitchen and front hallway of the main home.
“Since we love the interaction between indoors and outdoors, we chose these folding doors between the main entertaining areas, that way we can practically open the entire wall and allow the inside and outside rooms to become one generous space,” says Mike.
High ceilings and sandy-colored porcelain floor tiles resembling wood planks brighten the living space, allowing light into the open-concept living and dining room. A built-in shelving unit covers one wall, while a glass-encased storage room off the dining room displays Mike’s collection of high-end rums.
Adorning the surrounding walls is original artwork by such artists as Cuban painter Alberto Godoy, Colombian painter Omar Rayo, Colombian sculptor Ricietl Vurkovitsky Dha, and Australian landscape photographer Peter Lik. The pieces inject both color and character throughout the home.
The home’s kitchen has a crisp, cream-white palate that brings warmth to the quartzite marble countertops, Thermador appliances and cabinets set against white subway tiles. The breakfast nook is both comfortable and chic; a rustic dining table is set against a built-in booth and shelving unit, offering a pop of vibrant color to the kitchen in the form of turquoise and blood-orange pillows.
A chip n’ dale railing frames the extra-wide wooden staircase that leads to the upper floor of the house which includes four bedrooms and a family room-cum-office located in the center of the floor.
The master bedroom overlooks the canal and contains an eye-catching vaulted ceiling made of white-washed cedar. Its en suite bathroom resembles a luxurious spa, complete with gold Calacatta marble floors, a frameless glass rain shower and sauna-like wood-planked floors.
A generous-sized, walk-in closet can be accessed from the bathroom and includes an island for folding clothes as well as a vanity table and lots of shelving for shoes and clothing – a dream closet for any woman-of-the-house.
The entire house is equipped with one centralized smart system by Savant which Mike refers to as the “brains” of the operation; it’s hidden in an upstairs closet and controls all of the lights, security system and air conditioning.
An outdoor lounge area on the first level overlooks the canal and dock, leading to a 58-foot-long slate-colored pool. To the right of the lounge is a communal dining table and barbeque area, perfect for a nighttime aperitif.
Mike and Bella decorated and furnished the home without the help of a professional interior designer, instead relying on their keen eye for detail and design.
The attached guest home has many of same design elements as the main home and includes a bedroom on the main floor which has its own entrance leading out to the landscaped garden, as well as an “art/projects” room and a children’s playroom on the upper level that is accessed by a spiral staircase.
Working closely with Brent McComb of Phoenix Construction to build the house, there was a synergy right from the beginning, as, according to Mike, Brent has the same obsessive attention to detail as he and Bella. The house took four months to design me and 13 months to build.
“Each space has been designed specifically for the activities we enjoy,” says Mike. “As much as we believe it to be beautiful, this home was designed for us, and specifically for the way we live.”