The exterior of the 5,000-square-foot home with an Intracoastal view looks like it was plucked right out of a Key West neighborhood with its clapboard-like appearance, filigreed balustrades, widow’s walk and brick sidewalks.
But don’t expect the laidback and quirky interiors of the Conch Republic.
Sixteen design firms have created a modern take on tropical décor for the 37th Red Cross Designers’ Show House in West Palm Beach that is creative, sophisticated and suitable for stylish homes anywhere in South Florida. Their interpretations of island life may be totally different, but they have a few threads in common such as the use of wallpaper and an ability to mix patterns and periods of furnishings.
Wallpaper was used throughout the house, a trend that has been mushrooming the past four or five years. One of the reasons it is back in vogue is because manufacturers were able to bring back old favorites with new twists and create new offerings because of technology such as digital printing and three-dimensional effects.
A good example is in the second floor room that Lisa Erdmann of Lisa Erdmann Associates in Palm Beach envisioned as a “private place to entertain family and friends for well-crafted cocktails.” Grass cloth, a popular wall covering in the 1970s, has expanded choices with more colors, textures and textured patterns. Erdmann used Feather Bloom, a green print that resembles a flower, on the walls, and she covered the often-neglected ceiling with a tan grass cloth. All fabrics and wall coverings she used are from Schumacher.
“I like the idea of adding intrigue to the ceiling,” Erdmann says. “The grass cloth inspired me immediately with its delicately nuanced pattern. We applied a braid trim inset, accented with dark nail heads to add surprising visual interest to the space.”
Erdmann’s conversion of a closet into a bar is a great idea for a room where extra storage is not needed. A zebra-like Ripple wallpaper by former Palm Beacher Celerie Kemble makes it stand apart from the rest of the room. Above the bar are black and white photos of friends and celebs.
She also mixed fabric patterns that started with Chiang Mai Dragon, a bold print linen used for the draperies. She selected accent pillows in Kemble’s Betwixt, a geometric, and the sofa is covered in Imperial Trellis. The room features a mix of furniture styles — from 19th century antiques to a new custom hand-painted table.
Cuba may be only 90 miles from Key West, but Cuban-born Joseph Pubillones brought his homeland even closer with his interpretation of a writer’s studio.
“The whole house was an island theme because this is a Key West style home,” says the Palm Beach designer. “I wanted to evoke the island without the clichés. The room evokes a feeling as if I were in Cuba during the 1930s and 1940s.”
He used a neutral color palette reminiscent of sugar and sand with different textures and patterns. A flat weave dhurrie rug with a graphic brown pattern was played against a camelback settee in a neutral tone-on-tone stripe.
Because he is Cuban, he designed the room as a personal statement. The most obvious representation is the gallery wall displaying his collection by Cuban and Cuban-American artists. It also reflects his “green” desire for repurposing furniture by refinishing and reupholstering. Especially evocative of the period is a pair of Jay Spectre classic steamer chairs influenced by the Art Deco movement. He converted a 1930s sewing table into a desk by adding a large fiberglass top. All fabrics are from Beacon Hill.