You never know where you will meet your other half. For Sasha and Gordon Stula, that place happened to be a hair salon in Moscow. Sasha’s friends ran an outpost of the world-famous TONI&GUY Salon, and she stopped by for a party they were hosting at the shop. Gordon, who was in town on business for his cosmetics-distribution company, had ducked in for a trim of his voluminous hair.
With a smirk from ear to ear, Gordon recalls now the moment “she walked in wearing an evening gown and sat next to me. We started chatting. The rest is history.”
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Fifteen years of marriage and four sons later, the Stulas look back on it all with pride and joy from the plush, white-linen couches in their living room. The comfortable room — like each one in their sprawling, nearly 12,000-square-foot home — is tastefully dotted with items the family has accumulated on its travels and is bathed in loads of natural light. A montage of contemporary works by Cuban artist Kcho prompts conversation, and everywhere you look you see modern luxuries living harmoniously among historic beauty.
A Unique Sense of Place at Stonegate Manor
The Stulas’ home, Stonegate Manor, is tucked within the gated Stonegate community in Coral Gables’ exclusive Ponce/Davis neighborhood. Built in 1923 for Oliver Sollitt, a retired Chicago building contractor and legislator, the home is unique for its elaborate coral-rock facade, which completely envelopes the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom manse.
Miami-Dade County designated it a historic site in 1981, and the home’s former owners completely renovated it at the turn of the 21st century. Famed Miami architect Charles Pawley handled the face-lift, staying true to the home’s original design. Swiss landscape architect Enzo Enea crafted the property’s lush greenery, soaring palms and protective hedges.
A Family That Invests in Family Time
When the Stulas moved there from Brickell Key almost nine years ago, they were less interested in the home’s size or historical significance than in proximity to good schools for their boys. The family makes the most of its time together — Sasha and Gordon and their 16-, 10-, 9- and 7-year-olds — by taking cross-country road trips or just staying local. Nothing makes them happier than catching a movie or going to the beach on Fisher Island. Sasha said they love ambling around Wynwood for the “simply enjoyable” experiences of walking, people-watching, grabbing a coffee. They also love Marky’s Gourmet Market off of Biscayne Boulevard, rummaging through the refrigerated shelves of epicurean delicacies.
This couple is as unpretentious as they come. They’re the kind who quietly donate to charities, not the the kind who yearn to be photographed at every black-tie gala. Yes, they vacation in the Hamptons. But they’re likely to arrive there in an RV (OK, a very nice RV) that they’ve driven from Gordon’s childhood home in Milwaukee.
From Kiev to Coral Gables
They take pride in the small things in life that they consider to be luxuries: throwing a football with their boys in their meticulously manicured front yard, or hosting a BBQ for a select group of friends who are like family. While Gordon frequently travels internationally for business, when he’s home he volunteers as an assistant football coach at his sons’ school.
Gordon has long considered Miami his home, and he persuaded Sasha, who is from Kiev, to live here with him. At Stonegate Manor, their shared interests in travel, family heirlooms and global art are apparent in the home’s show-stopping interiors, which Sasha designed.
She put her personal touches on everything from the home gym to — her absolute favorite — the professional-grade, state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen. It’s where the Stula clan has shared countless family meals, holiday feasts and homework sessions. Sasha has lent her eye for design to close friends who have pleaded with her to work on their homes and offices. “I was self-taught, but they trusted me,” she said.
Classic Design with Modern Touches
Besides her design work, Sasha also curates her husband’s wardrobe, preferring the Italian men’s shop Artigiano located near Merrick Park and bespoke clothier Seize sur Vingt in New York City. A similar local-meets-international aesthetic permeates Sasha’s closets.
“My mother was my fashion inspiration,” Sasha said. “I was raised in Soviet times, when there was a lack of possibility, but she was always creative. She was classy and stylish. I was also inspired by Vienna and the time that I lived there before I met Gordon.” That explains her fondness for jewelry from Girls Dreams, a luxury boutique in Vienna. She also shops vintage whenever possible, and lately she’s been supporting Just Bee Queen, a collection of up-cycled pieces by Cuban-born, Miami-raised founder Maria Strauss. “I love her one-of-a-kind deconstructed clothes,” Sasha said.
Gordon credits Sasha for wearing many hats yet still having a sense of humor that’s necessary in a household full of boys. They both acknowledge that laughter and good communication are vital to keeping life in perspective. “When we lie in bed and talk, it clears any slates,” she said.
Agreeing with this, Gordon goes back to complimenting his wife, then he attempts to define her overall style. He lands on a description that also fits their extraordinary Stonegate Manor, the home they’ve made and filled as partners: “a blend of classic and modern mixed comfortably together.”
Words by Erin Michelle Newberg
Photography by Nick Garcia
Photography Assistance by Ricardo Mestre
Wardrobe and Styling by Elysze Held
Styling Assistance by Dani Parets, Samantha Torres and Elisa Ramirez
Hair and Makeup by Gustavo Berroeta