Blockbuster film director Michael Bay creates a seriously sexy retreat
Written by Trent Tackbary • Photographed by Roger Davies • Produced By Anita Sarsidi
“Too Big!” That would probably be the typical first reaction of a single man stepping inside a 17,000-square-foot Miami Beach house perched on the Intracoastal Waterway. But Michael Bay is hardly typical. For the director of larger-than-life, over-the-top action films on steroids, including the Transformers series, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, and both Bad Boys, nothing on film or in life is too big. And for a man who could storyboard the end of the world, it was no problem to conjure the grand vision needed to turn a dramatic but stark modernist structure into a home. “This house had a lot of potential,” says the director. “It just didn’t have any soul.”
The previous owner, who packs a punch in his own right, was wrestling icon Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan. He had used the house as the setting for the reality show Hogan Knows Best, and the interior was filled with a mishmash of lackluster furniture and overloaded with incongruous seating areas.
Since Bay, like any film director, understands the power and importance of collaboration, he turned to his longtime interior designer, Lynda Murray, and to Chad Oppenheim, the architect who had originally designed the structure. Oppenheim, who says he wanted to “capitalize on the natural building materials of Miami—the sky, water, and trees,” while “striving for the experiences of a classical home,” conceived of the house as a sequence of courtyards.
At the entrance is a car court wide enough in which to station the entire Autobot Transformer army. A series of shallow steps leads through an angular gleaming-white stone entry, past a guest wing, to a second courtyard, which contains a reflecting pool surrounded by greenery. To access the main house and living area, one traverses the pool via blocks of coral that seem to float above the water. At night, they shimmer in a crosscurrent of moon glow and muted underwater lights.
The interior was reconfigured with on-the-set urgency. An indoor squash court was quickly made over into a state-of-the-art screening room. The master bedroom and bath saw perhaps the greatest changes. “We ripped it apart,” Bay recalls. The renovated bathroom features a large cast-concrete tub and a wall of etched-stone tiles that separates two distinct spa-inspired shower areas.
Murray, who has worked with Bay on several residences, says that despite the director’s high-octane films, he is actually a relaxed and understated guy, especially when in Miami, where his day-to-day routine “is such a contrast to the Los Angeles rhythm.” To reflect that, she created an interior aimed at serenity and comfort, mixing Asian antiques with contemporary furnishings covered in neutral linens and soft leathers and chenilles. In the living area she installed the statement piece and heart of the interior, a concept Murray says came to her while she was sleeping: Cascading through the center of the dramatic 40-foot nautilus stairwell is a site-specific, ceiling-tofloor light sculpture by Alison Berger. Composed of 37 handblown- crystal pendants that seem suspended like a rain shower frozen in time, it’s the kind of thing one would expect to see only in the movies and it is the single object in the house that Bay’s two large and lovable English mastiffs, Bonecrusher (named after a Decepticon Transformer) and Grace (the name of Liv Tyler’s character in Armageddon), instinctively avoid.
Everything else is fair game for the dogs, who collectively weigh in at nearly 500 pounds. The mastiffs schlep from the swimming pool at the edge of the waterway, through the sliding glass doors, and slosh into the expansive living area, leaving a trail of water across the limestone floors and Indian hand-knotted-silk rugs. They flail their enormous tongues, splattering nearby furniture. Bay, who is accustomed to micromanaging every aspect of his films to ensure perfection, simply ignores this. “You get used to the drool flopping ten feet up on the walls,” he says, laughing. He may control the action on set, but here in Miami, he admits, “the dogs rule.”
Bay believes houses are never quite complete, and the next project is a pool Oppenheim is designing for the rooftop deck that will utilize huge slabs of aquarium glass. The roof deck already affords a panoramic view of the city, the waterway, and a distant bridge, which at night is outlined with a stream of car lights. “When you see the lights reflected off the water, when you see the cityscape, it’s beautiful,” Bay says. This juxtaposition of intensity and serenity, not unlike his own life on and off the set, is what drew him to Miami. When alone, says the man of action, “it’s a nice house to read in.”
Source: Elle Decor