To say that designer Erin Paige Pitts had a vision for the ugly duckling Delray Beach house she zeroed in on as a long-sought-after second home for her family is a major understatement. “It was a derelict structure that nobody had lived in for years, a cinder-block house from the 1940s with ripped awnings, jalousie windows, overgrown vegetation and a guesthouse that looked like an army bunker,” she recalls.
“But from the moment I walked in, I saw I could really do something with it.” The location, 1 mile from the ocean and within minutes of all that the community of Lake Ida had to offer, clinched the deal.
What Pitts had in mind was the culmination of years of experience designing oceanfront homes for clients up and down the East Coast (she also has an office in Gibson Island, Maryland), as well as inspiration gleaned from the Puntacana Resort & Club designed by Oscar de la Renta in the Dominican Republic. “I like symmetry and balance and classicism within modern design,” she shares. “The plan for the house was to create a place that reflected those elements and also connected with the ocean and how our family wanted to live here.”
Architecturally, Pitts had the interiors covered, reconfiguring and opening up the spaces inside. “I’ve always been the type of designer who does base building through the finished project. I’m heavily rooted in the construction aspects of design,” she says—so much so that she served as the contractor for the majority of the project. But revamping the home’s exteriors and boosting its curb appeal required some additional expertise, and for that Pitts brought in Maryland-based residential designer Christopher L. Pattey.
“The bones of the house were there enough to spin off of and do a renovation,” Pattey recalls. “We did working drawings by hand that aesthetically and dimensionally conveyed the design intent of a clean, crisp exterior with Dutch and Spanish influences that kept with the local vernacular and design guidelines. We coined the aesthetic as ‘Modern Caribbean.’ ” New freestanding foil walls were added to the main house and guesthouse to delineate the two and vertically accentuate the entries, “creating an iconic identity for the home,” Pattey adds. Undulating bay window bump-outs create visual interest, giving dimension to the facade, while pergolas and shutters provide shade and lend further reference to the island style.
Seamlessly, Pitts also brought new life and functionality to the interiors, using furnishings and artwork to create both a more distinct sense of arrival and a more emphasized entry into the main living space beyond. Eschewing vivid colors for a more natural, neutral palette, she focused on layers and textures for everything from coral stone flooring inspired by the Puntacana Resort & Club to stain-resistant furniture and fabrics that are both elegant and durable.
“Personally, I find the absence of color more soothing, and layers and texture interesting and calming,” she says. “And new products available now, like those by Sunbrella, make lightly colored interiors possible for a young family.”
In the kitchen, which she refers to as “the center of everything,” the designer chose forgiving white quartz tops for the counters and monolithic waterfall island, which also features cerused-oak paneling; against the island resides barstools by David Edward—a furniture manufacturing company owned by her husband’s family, through which Pitts custom-designed much of the home’s furnishings.
The use of cerused oak was repeated in the custom table in the adjacent dining room, which is accented with custom wicker side chairs, again by David Edward.
For the ample living room, which features ceilings heightened to 13 feet, Pitts paired custom upholstered pieces, including a plump oatmeal-colored chaise with striated pillows, with a glass-topped cerused-oak coffee table and a modern jute rug. Collapsible sliding doors reveal an outdoor living area, where a dining table on rollers may be positioned according to need when family and friends arrive.
Private areas for Pitts and her husband, Gregory, as well as their three children, Scarlet, Jackson and Hutton, take on an especially restful feel. The master bedroom, which overlooks the swimming pool, features a custom cerused-oak bed with a tufted headboard flanked with floating bedside tables that Pitts says free up the surrounding space and allow for placement of something textural below. The children’s rooms border on the playful, with colorful hot pink or blue accessories and details such as surfboards or fringed pillows.
As with the exterior detailing, guesthouse interiors reflect the concepts Pitts used within the main house, albeit with subtle differences. The kitchen countertops are Corian versus quartz, for instance, and the flooring is porcelain plank (which looks like wood) versus stone. “It’s peaceful, functional and inviting,” Pitts says. And it served as the perfect place to set up a satellite office for her design business.
Now fully settled into the home, Pitts and her family can see that it clearly represents her initial vision and goals. “It was very hard to see for a long time, but I had the ability to look at it for what it could be,” she says. “It checked all the boxes of what I wanted to achieve—a fantastically beautiful house where we want to spend time and that allows us to live in a family-friendly way. It exemplifies the mantra of my work.”
— Linda Hayes