5 Questions With: Katia Bates, Designer Behind the Restoration of the Versace Mansion

  1. 1. The Versace Mansion is undoubtedly your most famous project. Tell us about the design of the Mansion and what went into its restoration.

The Versace Mansion is a collection of styles and cultures that reflects the personality of Gianni Versace and represents the essence of Italian style. Historically, Italy was invaded by the French, Spaniards, Austrians, Germans and others. Over many centuries, each population brought their own culture to Italy which is why we very often find Rococo style coupled with Moorish style in the same square in Italy.  When we restored the Versace Mansion, we understood that it was of vital importance to the Loftin family that the existing style would be kept intact. We did extensive research and put a lot of thought into the restoration but my personal experience was a great asset to the project as I am Venetian born and have been exposed to a variety of European cultures and styles my entire life. We were very careful to preserve the originality of the work.

2. What were some of the key elements that were crucial to the Loftin family in terms of design? How involved were they?

The Loftin family was very involved in the restoration of the Versace Mansion as they wanted to ensure that we kept the originality of the existing style and implement a continuation of what Versace started himself. They were involved in the selection of all the materials and designs we proposed, and we would have weekly meetings to allow decisions to be made in a timely manner so that we stayed on schedule.

3. What are the fundamentals of creating a unique living environment?

The fundamentals of creating a unique living environment are selecting custom, one-of-a-kind accessories, furniture, and fabrics. In order to be unique, you must express your individuality.

4. They say that “those who can’t do teach.” Was designing your own home difficult?

Designing my own home was the easiest of projects for me. Convincing my husband that what I was doing was the right thing for our family was the biggest challenge I encountered. Although we both agreed that we wanted to turn our home into our own “Venice away from Venice,” there were a few things we disagreed on and we both had to compromise. The end result was fabulous, and a great collaboration of our ideas

5. Tell us about your success on TLC’s Four Houses?

I won the Miami episode of Four Houses, and that is huge for my business in terms of credibility. The response has been overwhelming and I am experiencing a small taste of celebrity status.  My family, friends and clients from around the world have been so supportive and I feel very lucky to have had this experience.

I really enjoyed doing the show.  The four contestants gave a very accurate representation of what South Florida is all about – an ensemble of different styles and cultures which is what makes life interesting!