After Loftin bought the mansion in 2000, Bates purchased the billiard table for his game room, but when the home was turned into a private club there was no room for it. The table sat in a warehouse from 2004 until this February, when her husband convinced Loftin to sell it. Bates said the table won her heart because lions are the symbol of Venice.
Bates also took one of the ideas for her redesign of the Versace mansion into the master bedroom. Loftin had asked her to put larger beds in the three largest bedrooms for tall club members who were basketball and football players. She ordered what she called “super beds,” which were as large as 10-by-12 feet, and later ordered an 8-by-8 foot bed for her home.
Juan Montoya, a New York designer and architect known for his multi-cultural eclectic style, and Jacques Garcia, a French designer and architect known for his contemporary interiors of Paris hotels and restaurants, are among designers she respects. She also has high regard for the late Andrea Palladio, a Venetian architect whose work was based on symmetry and perspective of ancient Greek and Roman architecture, and the late Addison Mizner, the architect who gave South Florida its distinctive Mediterranean Revival look with barrel tile roofs, pecky cypress ceilings, rough finished stucco and doors that open out onto wrought iron balconies.
Mizner style is reflected in the Bates home. The 10-foot-high front door features a custom pecky cypress façade and so do the undersides of the overhangs. The living room ceiling, which she copied from the Danieli Hotel, also reflects the painting Mizner did on ceiling beams.
Bates has a degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and a bachelors degree from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, where she studied business. She learned most of her interior design and building training while working with her father, who restored historic buildings in Venice. She took the Venetian philosophy into her redesign of the Versace mansion.
“My father taught me to modify, not destroy,” she said. “In Italy, we don’t destroy. We have to work with what’s there. It was very important for Peter Loftin to keep what was there. I didn’t have the heart to destroy because Gianni [Versace] was a legend in the fashion world.”
Bates has earned the respect of clients as well as her purveyors.
Tom Engel, a salesman for the David Sutherland showroom at the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, met her on a project and has worked with her on a few projects. He is a big fan of her work and her style.
“Katia is one of the most sophisticated, glamorous people I know,” he said. “She has a presence that’s unmistakable. She is all about chic and all about glamour. In terms of her work, she is one of the most sophisticated in the market. She really knows her resources. She knows how to use them and how to use her vendors.”
Rug designer Vera Za’arour, who has designed custom rugs for Bates, echoes the sentiments.
“Katia has a sophisticated, elegant and chic design style,” she said. “As a talented designer, she can communicate what she wants.”
And Bates also understands what her clients want, according to Pat and Lynn Murphy whose home in Fort Lauderdale’s Harbor Beach she decorated. The walls are Venetian plaster with Maitland Smith furniture and a Murano glass chandelier.
“Katia is a very classy lady,” Pat Murphy said. “She and Tom are probably my favorite people in Fort Lauderdale. They are a great couple and a great family. You can tell her what you want and she can pick up on it and know what you are talking about. If we were ever building another home, I would turn Katia loose and let her do it.”
Mitchell Rosenbaum, executive producer of Four Houses, said the homeowners are selected to provide contrasts in style and personality.
“I have never met someone as committed to the authenticity of their home,” he said when asked about Bates’ work.
Known for her philanthropy, Bates donated the $10,000 she won on Four Houses to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County. She is one of the sponsors of the 25th annual Showboats International Boys & Girls Clubs Rendezvous Nov. 8-10 at Atlantis, Paradise Island, in the Bahamas.
Matt Organ, executive vice president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, said Bates has been supporting the cause for 12 years.
“She has been very supportive of our mission,” he said. “For her to donate her winnings was not something she had to do. She believes in what the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County are doing, and her donation says an awful lot about her.”
Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.