The journey of transforming an undistinguished Palm Beach house into the startling beauty that exists today began with the vision of its Toronto- based owners, who saw beyond the outdated exterior and minimal landscaping. “The owners are very style-conscious, with a true love of architecture and interior design,” says Wayne Swadron, brought down from Toronto to oversee the architectural design program in light of his long-standing relationship with the clients. This included reconfiguring the kitchen-family room connection, as well as the master bedroom, library and a powder room. “They’re always re-envisioning their environment,” adds Swadron. “We listened to their ideas and found a direction they could move toward.”
Although the home’s exterior features remained essentially intact, including the stucco finish and shuttered windows (now painted white and deep gray, respectively), and the concrete tile roof, others, such as the entry door surround and transom, were re-concepted. The interior was a different story altogether. All agreed that the space had good bones, but aspects of the layout were awkward and the articulation and finishes left much to be desired. “It was a complete gut renovation of the finishes, the flooring, casings, base and crown moldings, the kitchen, and bathroom plumbing fixtures,” explains designer Sara McCann, who, along with fellow designer Donna Morris, complemented Swadron’s interior architectural detailing of millwork and cabinetry with decorative finishes, fixtures and furnishings. “We tried to interpret the owners’ vision and added our professional guidance and execution.”
With the direction of opening up the house, especially the ground floor, Swadron created better flow between the family room and kitchen through redesigning and reconfiguring the cabinetry and central island. Conversely, he created a greater distinction between other areas. An awkward opening between the main entry hall and an inner stairway, for instance, was closed off to create a more formal sense of entry. “The changes modernized the house and gave it a more transitional feel,” notes builder Timothy R. Benitz.
McCann and Morris’ direction was largely informed by the owners’ intended Florida lifestyle and tastes. “They have a very sophisticated city home in Toronto,” says McCann. “This was to be a true getaway—light, bright and comfortable, with nothing too fragile since they have two young children. We leaned toward a British Colonial feel, but taken up a notch to make it more contemporary and chic.” Beginning with the newly opened kitchen and family room area, the concept was first addressed via a carefully balanced color palette. Coral pendants pop amidst honed-and-mitered Calacatta Gold countertops. Twin sofas at 110 inches long are offset by a tufted ottoman in Chelsea Gray and flowing taupe draperies, and chairs with coral fringe infuse playfulness to the space.
The coloration continues into the dining room and the master suite, where a pale conch shell-colored valance behind the bed stands out against a backdrop of pale
pink walls and accentuates the quiet nature of the adjoining seating area. “We played with texture to lend some interest,” McCann says. “It created a retreat for the owners.” The elimination of tight corridors gave the suite a bright, spacious feel and enabled the design of a new ensuite bath complete with a pair of playful, customized his-and-hers vanities flanking the entry. A custom-patterned mosaic floor defines the space and pulls it together at the same time. As a departure, yet keeping with the same level of chic as the rest of the house, the designers instead chose blue as the star for the more formal living room and the husband’s library; the latter is a modern, Florida- inspired take on the lacquered library Albert Hadley designed for legendary philanthropist Brooke Astor.
Hand-in-hand with the architectural and interiors work came the significant redesign of the home’s surrounding landscape. Out front, landscape designer Keith L. Williams, with the help of project manager Cory Meyer, created a sense of grand arrival, replacing a circular drive and forming an elevated garden entrance featuring a set of striking 35-five-foot-tall Medjool palm trees that pack a punch. In the backyard, Williams removed paving from around the existing pool and created a more contemporary garden, play area and lawn. “The pool seems to float in the grass,” he says. A protected loggia, which McCann and Morris outfitted with handsome outdoor furniture and a living orchid wall, provides space for outdoor gatherings and entertaining.
The team more than achieved their goal of breathing new life into the house and its surrounds. “We took what was a home of wonderful proportion but poor interior configuration and made it relevant and current,” says Swadron. “Going into the old house and stepping into the new house are completely different experiences.”
McCann is thrilled with the result, as well. “Wayne provided a fabulous space to work with,” she says. “The flow from one area to the next is terrific and there’s a nice surprise in every room—a standout detail or something that makes it really fun and adds to the overall feel. Typically, I have one favorite room from a project. Here, I like them all. It’s a happy house.”