Ode to Summer

The sun is out, the grill is hot and we are ready to cook up somethin’ special!

On a warm summer’s evening, twelve very special guests joined us for our very first cooking series workshop, Ode to Summer, presented by Mclaney + Butler All Things Home and Chef Julia Doyne with iCanCook.  A cherry red “Ode to Summer” punch was ladled from a vintage punch bowl for each of our guests surely to quench their thirst as they awaited the evening’s festivities.  Old friends, new friends and everyone in between, our guest list was an excited group of Miamians ready to indulge in a culinary experience.

First up, a presentation by Zach Bamman, renowned fisherman and wildlife expert, on properly filleting a freshly caught fish. Each guest suited up for a hands-on tutorial with their own 2 pound Snapper.  In the meantime, another group of sous-chef’s chopped, diced, minced and julienned to prepare the cioppino, a fish stew containing clams and mussels. Fresh sourdough bread, courtesy of Zac the Baker, lay sliced ready for grilling. While bearing the heat of the grill and the summer night, grilling 101 was attended by all as they diligently watched Chef Doyne demonstrate the proper way to grill a piece of fish to perfection!

Last on the agenda, time to feast!  After bonding over the intimate pastime of cooking, we all sat down to enjoy the meal we prepared.  The atmosphere was lively, likely due to a mixture of punch and the bounty of accomplishments, and the appetites were fierce.  Dinner was served family style paired with fresh summer wines and crusty sourdough bread straight from the grill.  Conversation was vibrant and table-wide. Invitees left as friends and friends left with a new experience in which to reminisce.  All in all, a success for our very first workshop!

Till next time, Bon Appetite!


Place Mat

Waterford Silverware

Classic Cotton Napkin

French Kitchen Marble Wine Cooler

White Dinner Plate

Madeleine Side Chair


Clusia Table Runner and Place Cards

One of our favorite things about entertaining is finding new and innovative ways to decorate!  We love to utilize the beautiful South Florida greenery that surrounds us year round!  One plant in particular is the clusia major, a native species that is hearty and robust with the most delightful shades of green to compliment any arrangement.  We chose to create a table runner by clipping branches from our clusia hedge that lines the garden.  Using garden twine, we layered in some Italian ruscus and goldenrod for color.  Once placed on the table, we sprinkled in some fresh lemons for a complimentary pop of vibrant color and texture.

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What to do with all of these lonely clusia leaves fallen from their branches?  Well, create place cards of course!  Luckily these thick leaves make for a nice clean surface to write in your guest’s names.  We used a white chalkboard pen that allowed for the name to stand out.  No matter how big or small your dinner party, we always suggest assigned seating.  This is a gracious way to accommodate guests, eliminate confusion and keep the party flowing smoothly.

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A How-To Guide to the Initial Permitting Process in Miami Shores

The dreaded permit process; a major deterrent for homeowners looking to renovate. Some conclude that bypassing this process all together will save time and money, however, it is proven time and time again that following through with the proper permitting process can and will assist in the completion of your project with satisfaction and confidence that your job was done right.  Every time we turn around, there is a new code or compliance to adhere to and trying to keep up during construction can be arduous. Along with your contractor and other hired professionals, we hope that this go-to guide will help smooth out any of those unsettling details to ensure your CO (certificate of occupancy).

All projects begin with an idea, a vision or a dream that is desperate to become a reality.  Your ideas and dreams are a far cry from what is feasible and can be built.  One of the most important first steps taken is hiring an architect and/or designer that understands your vision and can produce an attainable representation that complies with the long list of building codes in your area.  It is a long way from your set of plans to the actual job site so assuring that your contractor and your architect are continuously value engineering is key.  This concept will pop up constantly throughout a project.  Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so take your time!

Once your drawings are complete, we suggest a meeting with your city’s building department.  It is usually quite easy to schedule a meeting with the department head, introduce yourself and your proposed project.  A lot of uncertainties could very well be cleared up in a few short minutes of discussion.  This can save you a lot of headache down the road.

Depending on your design, your city’s zoning board may need to approve your drawings. This occurs when there is a change to the footprint or exterior of the home such as an addition, balcony, perimeter wall, or driveway.  Any changes that can be seen from the street.  A homeowner will submit a zoning application as well as 7 sets of drawings, home survey, photos of the area proposed and a few other items.  Presenting this information in the most organized manner is key.  We suggest a report style presentation with dividers for easy browsing and referencing.  Keep the information concise.  The goal is to walk each member through your vision on paper.  Remember, you may study these drawings for hours at a time, however this is new to them so make sure all pertinent information is included.  Check with your building department on submission and hearing dates.  Meetings are held once a month with your submittals due the month prior.

Once you have zoning approval, if applicable, your drawings need to be engineered by a structural and mechanical engineer. Engineers are in charge or bringing your drawings to life.  For example, if you are re plumbing your home, your mechanical engineer will enhance your drawings to describe the materials/equipment used, locations and loads/pressures to ensure the proper system.  You may be asking yourself, “who regulates all of these changes and why?”  Other than your municipality, there are four outside agency requirements that must be met, DERM, WASD, HRS and Impact Fees. Bare with us as we breakdown each agency and why they are important in a nut shell.

The Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) protects our water quality, drinking water supply, air quality and natural resources that are vital to the health and well being of our great city and its residents.  This is a pretty important department with a big job on their hands so patience is key when submitting.  We suggest submitting to DERM first as they usually take the longest time to review.  Once the review is complete and approved, DERM will send the plans to The Miami Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) for their approval and fee calculation.  You will notice that each department has their own way of charging unavoidable fees.  It is possible that each department will have comments for disapproval.  Actually, it is highly likely.

The best approach during this complicated process is to go in person and become familiar with someone in each department that can get you the answers you need.  You would be surprise as to what a smiling face and pleasant attitude can do as apposed to a phone call to an automated system that just sends you round and round.  Think of it as a field trip to somewhere you have most likely never been before and likely never to return.  As you continue your journey, there are impact fees that will be due once your plans have been reviewed.  Miami-Dade County collects impact fees for public services such as fire and emergency, police and parks and educational facilities.  This helps in keeping taxes for these services to a minimum for current taxpayers.  The developmental fee is based on the size and type of land use.  On a two story home with 250 square foot addition, fees can range +/-$500.  The last agency is HRS or DOH (Department of Health).  This agency regulates the construction, modification and operation of all septic tanks.  This is very important as all properties in Miami Shores are on septic.  Good news here, your septic contractor will walk your plans through this whole process for you!  A fee will be due, of course, and this can usually take up to three weeks.

As you can see, this will take some time.  However you’re in luck!  Miami Shores offers a “dry run” submittal for $360.00.  This means that while you are navigating through the outside agency process, your plans can already be in for review and comments.  Plus, you will receive their comments back in 10 days!  This saves a heap of time.  The project drawings can be corrected as per the “dry run” comments to then be ready for re submittal once you have the blessings of DERM, HRS and WASA.

Whether this is your first time renovating or your 100th, the requirements are constantly changing. Ask as many questions and talk to as many people as you can that will offer insight and information. In a process that takes nothing but time, make sure to take your time!  Good Luck and Happy Renovating!


Some Things Never Change

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As we pulled into the driveway of this elegant 1940’s Miami Shores home, we knew we were in for a treat.  Forewarned by a family member that not a single thing had been done since they settled in back in 1964.  Most people would cringe, but there was something about this place that just had us so excited to get inside.  We walked up the brick paver walkway to a grand front porch adorned with two identical white benches. Furniture that have become fixtures over the years as if they were never supposed to be anywhere else but right there. The doorbell rang and it sent us into a trance as if marking the moment from a movie where a flashback began.  Here we go!  

Gracing the foyer and grand staircase was a lovely woman named Lucy and her daughter, Hampty.  “C’mon in!” they said. We were so enthralled by their stories of the past that we nearly forgot why we were there.  Treasured 18th century artwork decorated the walls, some oil paintings of family portraits, others restored paintings of passed loved ones or just ones unknown.  Antique furniture, some arriving by wagon, dressed the rooms, one more interesting than the next. Traditional jalousie windows in the pink and green “Florida room” leading out to over 16,000 square feet of lush gardens.  The formal dining room situated in the heart of the home surly once the setting to many elaborate occasions and holidays.  

Each nook and cranny told a story, some not even through words.  It was a moving experience that brought us back to simpler times.  Times of elegance, tradition and grace and we are grateful to share it with you. 

-Shop This Style-

Update this style all while keeping with it’s charm and elegance.

Bella Pieroni, Dancer Resting I

Lafontaine 51″French Settee, Ivory Linen

Kenley Tufted Rug – Khaki

Vintage Tea and Coffee Set

Magnolia Pillow Cover

Petal Brushed Cotton Canvas

Luna Stripe Wallpaper

Derry Demilune Sideboard, Chocolate

2-Story Miami Shores Charmer

Welcome Home!

After all the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted, you may ask yourself, now what? Adding your personal touch can be a daunting task after the long journey of house hunting and finally closing on a property. Some homeowners are ready to get started and have an exact vision, while others may encounter somewhat of a designer’s writer’s block.  Fear not, we are here to help!



New to the Shores, clients Jen and Adam were faced with this challenge after purchasing a fabulous 1940’s, 2 story Mimo inspired home in the heart of Miami Shores.  This home was full of character, warmth and most importantly, potential!  Wood floors, tray ceilings, fire place, this home has it all.  All that is missing are those final touches that makes you feel at home.  The living room was tackled first.  Homeowners Jen & Adam wanted this space to be versatile.  Anything from movie watching to hosting gatherings and all things in between.  What was once the formal living room of the home, now called for a lightened mood in order to create an elegant yet inviting and comfortable space.  Once we chose a soothing paint color, Benjamin Moore’s Pearl River,   and addressed the need for some much needed lighting, we were off to a great start.  One personal touch that is a quick and easy update and stamp of your own style is to make your own throw pillows.  Just about any dry cleaners will have a seamstress that can make pillow cases.  All you have to do is supply the fabric and inserts.  Choosing fabric can be a lot of fun!  There are no wrong answers.  For this particular client, we chose two classic neutral patterns with a feminine floral and rose color embellishment.  Just the right amount of softness for this living room that may host a guys night or two in the future.  Incorporating soft and neutral throw blankets like this one from West Elm really cozy’s up the space.


The most important thing to remember when faced with a design challenge is to not take it too seriously.  Allow your creativity and inspiration to take over.  Design is not an exact science, it is all trial and error.  Find what works for you and your lifestyle and have some fun!  The best ideas come from thinking outside the box and utilizing items that surround you.

Shop our idea board!

Luxurious white couch for a steal

Essential black bench

Stunning statement chandelier

Cozy family room blanket

Our favorite art




A Father’s Day Affair to Remember

The table is set, the wine is chilling and the music is flowing throughout the house.  All that is left is our honored guests for this very special Father’s Day celebration.  Each place setting is graced with a timeless black and white photo of their loving children.  A rock from the garden with a handwritten name upon each acts as a place card.  An Old Fashioned bar greets guests as they arrive as well as the most refreshing summer punch one has ever tasted!  A humidor unfolds the decadent cigars that will later be enjoyed al fresco.  No detail left unnoticed for these very special dads.

File Jun 20, 9 38 48 PMFile Jun 20, 9 39 31 PMFile Jun 20, 9 39 04 PMFile Jun 20, 9 40 30 PMThe evening was envisioned to be an interactive dinner party.  We decided to host a small cooking class, led by Chef Julia Doyne with iCanCook, for the ladies as their men enjoyed a welcome whiskey cocktail.  First up on the menu, smoked salmon cucumber cups, beef tartare crostini and tomato, basil and mozzarella skewers prepared and served with love by the wives.  After re joining the party as guests, the escort began for the VIP’s to the dinner table.  Time to eat!  The main course was served family style to our hungry guests.  Bowls of summer squash and saffron risotto were scattered on the table for guest to help themselves.  Small bowls were used to make self serving easy as well as passing the delicious dishes to other guests at the table.  This also helps to lighten the mood and break the ice for conversation with your fellow dinner party guest.  Jumbo shrimp scampi for the seafood lover and for the piece de resistance, beef tenderloin served banquet French style accompanied by a béarnaise and au poivre sauce.  After many laughs and toasts that left your heart full of love, the most delicious and refreshingly light angel food cake made an appearance with strawberries, chantilly and toasted almonds.  The most perfect way to end a meal!

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From start to finish, the evening left everyone with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Thankful to be surrounded by friends as good as family in the most comfortable of settings, home.

Sensational Summer Punch 
Serves 10
2 bottles of your favorite Pinot Grigio
1 bottle of prosecco
1 sliced cucumber
1 bunch of mint
1/2 cup simple syrup
1/2 Lemon squeezed and zested
5 oz of vodka


Turn any bowl into a vase with a few quick and easy steps. All you need is scotch tape and an assortment of your favorite flowers. Tape vertical and horizontal lines about 2″ apart. This will create a checker board look. Pour in the water to cover the bottom of the bowl. Start arranging the flowers in the center and work your way outwards. For a cascading look, use flowers such as Omithoalums or Bells of Ireland and drape over the edge of the bowl.

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The Door’s Open, Come On In

We are always trying to come up with new and exciting ways to do things.  Check out our take on freshening up that same old boring open house.  Keeping it light and lovely is our motto.  From homemade dishes to one of a kind home fragrances, each gathering is unique and fabulous!

Fresh flowers are a must, music is crucial and lighting is key. As we welcomed guests to preview our one-of-kind condo listed in Quayside’s building favorite, Tower 4, we decided a happy hour was best. Quaysiders love to mix and mingle while chatting about design ideas for their next condo renovation. To set the tone for a casual and inviting gathering, we chose Nina Simone radio on Pandora, one of our client’s favorite, sea salt aromatherapy to give a touch of the salty air beyond the sliding glass doors and lastly, candlelight, the best kind of lighting for an evening function.

The door’s open, c’mon in!

The Easiest Artichoke Dip You’ll Ever Make:

2 cans of artichokes drained, 1 can of parmesan cheese, 2 cups of mayonnaise and a dash of garlic powder. Chop artichokes and combine all ingredients in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until browned.

Decadent Deviled Eggs

Place 12 eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks to a medium bowl, and placing the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, Ding’s pickled relish, and mix well. Evenly disperse heaping teaspoons of the yolk mixture into the egg whites.

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To find out more about this beautiful Costal Cottage in the Sky, please visit our listing:

4000 Quayside Terrace #1108

Get A Little, Give A Little

It is very important for us to stay true to our mission and remain constant with our business goals and aspirations.  One of our main focuses is to bridge the gap between business, community, and giving back.  With each sale, we pledge to donate back into our community through various efforts and capacities.  We truly believe that what you do in life, whatever path you choose, there must be a foundation of passion.  Since being involved in public service for 10 years now, we have devoted our passion to helping those around us and encouraging others to as well!

Our most recent sale, 500 NE 102nd Street in Miami Shores, was on the market for only 9 short days before we were under contract for our asking price of $840,000!  As the contact came to a close, it just so happened to coincide with the grand opening of our neighborhood’s first ever dog park! With animals very near and dear to us, we decided this must be our sale’s contribution!  We donated a park bench on behalf of A Way for a Stray.

A Way for a Stray is a local animal rescue co founded and operated by our very own Cristina Imburgia Butler.  This animal rescue is only but 4 years old, however, A Way for a Stray (AWFAS) has raised over $200,000 and saved 300+ dogs!  AWFAS’ mission is to assist and aid in the care and placement of homeless, neglected and abandoned dogs in the city of Miami. For more info, visit AWayforaStray.org.
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We plan to continue to give back to the community that has already given us so much. We owe it to the wonderful members of our small village to the law makers and city officials that keep us safe and all those in between.  It is up to us to make a difference, no one else!  As the great Dr. Suess says, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”
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The Best Kept Secret in the Biscayne Suburbs

Who likes vacation?  If you uttered the word no, stop reading, but if you are one of the majority that answered yes to that question, allow us to introduce to you, Quayside.  Tucked away in the Northern section of the Biscayne corridor, NE 107th street and Biscayne Blvd to be exact, many pass this diamond in the rough dozens of times a day without even a glance.  Though it may be hard to avoid a quick gaze at the cascading water falls at the entrance or the tree lined street that leads to some elite and undisclosed location that causes one to say, “what’s back there?”.  Wonder no more as we welcome you through the gates and lush landscaping into the world of Quayside. 

Tranquil, lush, peace, quiet, friendly and safe.  These are the adjectives Cathy Imburgia with Imburgia Realty, resident, realtor and Quayside expert, uses to describe Quayside.  We caught up with Cathy to get an authentic perspective of what an honor it truly is to be a Quaysider.


One of the many things that Cathy loves about living within these gates is you are never further than a stones throw from a friendly face.  Quayside residents are always out and about on the property walking their dog, headed to the gym, out for a stroll in the marina or headed to happy hour at Sneakers Bar & Grill.  You are always greeted with a smile and wave hello.

The property boasts amenities that will surely not disappoint.  On its 34 acres, yes 34 ACRES, Quayside is home to a state of the art gym and spa that includes tennis and racket ball courts, indoor lap pool and sauna and steam rooms.  With their in-house facialist and massage therapist on call, a spa day is never a challenge to arrange.  For the youngsters in the family, Quayside offers tennis clinics for all ages, a basketball court for pick up games and toddler playground for the little ones.  Just about everyone in Quayside is an animal lover so many congregate with their four legged family members while out for a walk or on the properties private dog park. Another must-see is the sunset from the pier in the marina after a Happy Hour gathering at one of the two private restaurants.   “There is just something for everyone.” Cathy confirms.  In addition to all of these wonderful attributes, residents enjoy unobstructed bay views and 24 hour security.  This leaves us with one question, why are we all not living in Quayside? 

Cathy and Lou Imburgia invited us into their newly renovated penthouse in tower 4 to show us how truly wonderful it is to live above the twinkling lights of the city below.


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Now that you have seen beyond the gates of Quayside, we want to know, are you intrigued? Wouldn’t you like to embrace this friendly, carefree and healthy lifestyle that just seems to appeal to the masses? We are left speechless with the array of gifts the Quayside comes bearing.  We have nothing left to say than, yes please! 

Please enjoy the details of two of Cathy’s listings that we would like to feature.  The Bayfront Townhome is one of eighteen exclusive units offered in Quayside with unique bay views and each unit accompanied by a boat slip.  Cathy’s listing achieved the highest price in the shortest amount of time on the market! Visit ImburgiaRealty.com for more information.





Water Water Everywhere

From the depths of the ocean feeding into Biscayne Bay, then trickling down the canals and rivers deep into the city, you do not need to travel far to reach some body of water.  So much in fact, in the 1800’s, 72nd Street was home to the Biscayne House of Refuge to provide care for those who were shipwrecked.  Though, we are long from the days of being abandoned at sea, we sure do like to relish in it’s beauty.
Waterfront living is a major draw for home-buyers looking to settle in with spectacular bay views in the Biscayne Suburbs. Whether you are front and center with multiple shades of blue as your backyard, or you are nestled on one of the many canals that slither up and down the streets of Miami Shores and Belle Meade, waterfront is where it’s at.  To bask in bay front beauty, you are looking at an average price per square foot anywhere from $630.95 to $1,242.24!  Far cry from the average dry lot sale hovering around $300 per square foot.  Those who crave the salty air in the Biscayne Suburbs definitely require somewhat of a deep pocket.
The real sought after lifestyle is reminiscent of an endless field of green grass cascading down to 100+ feet of seawall.  The homes were set back on the property to allow for an impressive backyard and entertaining space including an oversized pool featuring the long lost diving board.  However, the typical mid century modern split level has turned into a concrete jungle boasting nothing but zero lot line building.  The more we see this happening, the more we want to share with you those waterfront gems that bring yesterdays delights and today’s necessities together in the most perfect way.