Why Palm Beach Is A Hot Spot For Interior Design
Once viewed as kitschy and a bit archaic, the Palm Beach aesthetic has been given a shot of adrenaline by big name designers like Jonathan Adler (a seasonal resident) and Celerie Kemble. Plus, business mogul Aerin Lauder just released her new book, Palm Beach, a nostalgic look at what makes this area’s style so unique.
This month marks the 3rd Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach in the home of local antiques purveyor Lars Bolander, but you don’t have to live in an Addison Mizner villa to embrace the hallmarks of this enduring style. The preppy colors, palm prints, rattan and coral (the color and the resin version, please) are popping up everywhere.
Like a Lilly Pulitzer shift, the decor pendulum has swung back to embrace exuberant prints and patterns, so let’s take a closer look at why this style is hitting all the right notes now.
“I wanted to really capture the spirit of Palm Beach — it’s needlepoint, it’s nautical, it’s Slim Aarons and it’s a bit of chinoiserie,” says Jonathan Adler of the suites he designed for the five-star Eau Palm Beach, once an exclusive private club, La Coquille. The hallmarks of the Palm Beach look are rendered in tones that reflect the sun and water, as seen on the navy-banded bed canopy. “The only thing better than a hotel breakfast is a hotel bed, so I wanted to make sure everything was luxe and comfortable — even the headboard, which is covered in Arbre de Matisse by Quadrille,” he says.
Jonathan’s wall of custom handmade sun face art decorates Eau’s Breeze Open Kitchen where the benches are lined with peppy citrus cushions and the finishes are sun-bleached and subtle. At night, string lights give a rustic beach shack vibe.
Nowhere is grapefruit pink more at home than in Palm Beach, and in the 3rd Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach, it got plenty of play in the Great Room. Designer Suzanne Kasler built on a quintessential palette of pink and white and combined well-loved staples such as rattan, linen and natural materials. High-gloss, built-in bookcases in Benjamin Moore’s Custis Salmon (CW-215) stretch across an entire wall, while a tropical wall covering sets a languorous, “I’m definitely on vacay” tone.
The woven seagrass carpet, Lucite coffee table and bamboo canopy topped by palm finials are pure Palm Beach, but New York-based designer Alessandra Branca was also inspired by Portugal, choosing blue and white wallpaper resembling Portuguese tile. “Color is the spice of life — and I like spice,” says Alessandra.
Kelly green enlivens a crisp palette of black and white on the Show House’s shaded terrace designed by Sherrill Canet. This loggia blends modern touches with antique pieces for a tailored look, inspiring conversation and glamorous yet comfortable outdoor living.
Toronto designer Colette van den Thillart transformed the outdoor dining terrace into an enclave full of character and texture. Colette took a boho approach to Palm Beach but updated the look with an intricate custom trellis and beachy woven lanterns from Serena & Lily. The floral rug mimics the lush growth of vines on the portico supports.
For a new twist on the home’s typically tropical garden, Palm Beach landscape designers Mario Nievera and Keith Williams took inspiration from the Taj Mahal and created a striking Mughal design utilizing sod and gravel to surround the pool. Purple and pink bougainvillea bring a pop of color among the greenery of the native plants, such as the de rigeur mature palms.
Longtime resident and Palm Beach social fixture Aerin Lauder details some of her favorite haunts in her new book, Palm Beach. This shot depicts The Palm Courtyard in The Breakers hotel, a glam destination modeled on the Villa Medici in Rome. A stylized ikat print on the faux bamboo chairs is contrasted by vibrant floral pillows. The roof’s barrel terracotta tiles, tiled floor and trellis are classic Palm Beach signatures.
The Colony Hotel is another Palm Beach fixture that has been given new life. Artist Kate Schelter gave the historic pink palace a new logo (a sketch of Palm Beach’s favorite mascot — Johnnie Brown, architect Addison Mizner’s famous Spider monkey) and splashed a sea grape pattern over all the matchbooks… which are often pocketed, along with the pink pens. The hotel’s beloved pink and green scheme is heralded by a playful rose golf cart and leaf-print paddleboard, parked outside.
Inside The Colony, exuberant Brazilliance wallpaper made famous by Dorothy Draper turns a hallway into a lush jungle.
Designer Celerie Kemble is a famous Palm Beach alum (she partners with her mother, well known local designer Mimi McMakin to form Kemble Interiors) who helped revamped interiors for the Colony’s $18 million top-to-bottom renovation. In this sitting area, a macramé fringe updates a comfy tufted seat with preppy embroidered ottomans and a carved stone mantel topped by a grandiose faux coral candleholder.
Tape trim embellishes the umbrellas and the soft shade of celery — instead of the more common emerald or hunter green — updates all the outdoor chaise longues around The Colony’s pool.
An inspiration board in the iconic, pink-canopied Worth Avenue Lilly Pulitzer flagship store shows a photo of Lilly nimbly hopping down the wing of plane while carrying a stack of her signature fabrics (which became Palm Beach staples once worn by school chum Jacqueline Kennedy). New takes on the vibrant color and natural fauna are optimistic and carefree.
Acclaimed London-based designer Martin Brudnizki revamped the interiors of the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach with classic cabana stripes and a trompe l’oeuil ceiling treatment that resembles a tent, plus beachy woven rugs. “We wanted to embrace and build a narrative around a sophisticated beach experience. The interiors pay homage to the Resort’s coastal location and the charming heritage of the Palm Beach neighbourhood,” he says.
Florie’s terrace takes makes old-school ’80s sage look fresh when rendered in lattice-style tilework which accents the blocks of coral stone flooring. A pergola structure lets the sun shine through.
You can’t find a better origin story for Palm Beach style than Whitehall, the Gilded Age Estate built by the driving force behind Palm Beach, industrialist tycoon Henry M. Flagler. Now the Flagler Museum, the national historic landmark features the Mediterranean overtones so popular in the area in its soaring fluted columns, arched doorways, elaborate metalwork and oversized urns, which mimic a grand European villa.