When Andy and Sue Redmond bought their Palm Beach vacation condo, it had its charms—an extensive wraparound deck and proximity to the renowned restaurants and shops of Worth Avenue. But it was hardly living up to its potential. The condo was fractured into dark spaces, with a closed-in kitchen and a narrow hallway leading to closed-in bedrooms. “I spent less than five minutes in there,” Andy says, “and I knew we would have to gut it.” So they enlisted designer Cindy West Ray to reimagine the floor plan, opening up the kitchen and living spaces and modernizing the outdated finishes.
But after the condo was gutted, just as the crew was about to rebuild the rooms of the four-bedroom unit, the project took an unexpected turn. “We had knocked down all of the walls, and I was standing there with the contractor looking at the space,” recalls Ray. “I said, ‘It looks good without that fourth bedroom—now you can see panoramic views of the Intracoastal, ocean and golf course.’”
Ray shared with Andy the idea of keeping it that way; he loved the concept but wasn’t sure that Sue would be willing to give up a bedroom. When he got back to their primary home in Toronto, however, he made the pitch. “I told her how different the unit would look, and she bought into it immediately,” he says. “Clearly, it was the right decision.” That surprise square footage would become part of the main living space—an intimate media area now offering a pop-up television and prime Intracoastal view.
Having to alter the original building plan was no small task, given that they had to adhere to a short May-to-October construction season. “You can’t have many missteps, or you don’t make it,” says builder Mitch Gold, who completed the project while a partner at Derco Construction and has since started his own company, Goldcorp Construction. “We go and demo and, as well as you plan, things always shift around and we end up doing a lot of redesigning on-site. Cindy is really good at feeling the space and gets very creative with her ideas as she sees what can be done.” Doing away with that fourth bedroom eliminated a narrow hallway, which allowed for the wide vestibule Cindy wanted near the master and guest bedrooms. These rooms now have double-door entries and the master has direct access (before, you’d have to enter through the bathroom).
For the design aesthetic, the couple wanted clean, sleek and functional—but not overly stark. “They wanted neutral colors but with shapes and forms, textures and interest,” says Ray, who procured modern furnishings with graceful lines, as well as like-minded accessories through her shop in West Palm Beach. She used contemporary—even commercial— materials to give the home a modern edge, but she mixed in natural materials to warm the spaces and evoke the nearby ocean. “The sandblasted cypress wall in the den is reminiscent of a dock and the coastal locale, and there are sandblasted European oak floors, too,” she says. “We used leathers that are soft and mohair that’s a little more cozy.”
The sleek look continues in the kitchen, where the layout was inspired by another that Ray designed in a neighboring unit. The team was initially working with pure white stone for the Redmonds’ island, but then Ray found zebra quartzite with bold gray veining that was bound to make a statement and bring the mix of modernity and warmth that she was infusing into the rest of the apartment. To ensure that the veining would match at certain junctures, such as the turn in the V-shaped island, it took hours of discussion while laying templates over slabs in the hot Florida sun. “We went to the fabricator and twisted and turned them so we could get everything to join as seamlessly as possible,” Gold says. And their efforts were not without success: “I did have concerns about the stone at first,” Andy says. “I had a tough time visualizing it because none of this was up. But I couldn’t be happier. I’ve had so many people walk in and say, ‘Wow.’”
Because the couple was downsizing from their previous vacation home, and with the fact that they dislike clutter, the kitchen—and nearly every other room—boasts plenty of built-in storage. “When you think about doing something contemporary, less is more, but the reality of life is you’ve always got stuff,” Andy says. “Cindy was able to incorporate storage in some areas where you wouldn’t even know it was there.” In the kitchen, for example, there’s a “hidden” door clad in millwork that is the entrance to the laundry room. The design also incorporates eye-catching art, including several photographs from Holden Luntz Gallery on Worth Avenue. “We’ve got a shot of Al Pacino from The Godfather in one of the washrooms, and Kate Moss when she was doing a shoot in Paris,” Andy says. “The piece in the den is of Bianca Jagger, as Andy Warhol was photographing her, and someone took a shot of them.”
Of course, with fewer walls, Jagger and Warhol have to compete for attention with sparkling blue waters. The Redmonds may have lost a bedroom, but they don’t regret a thing, and neither does Ray. “It’s wonderful to work with clients who believe in you,” she says. “Now they can see straight out to these gorgeous views—it’s like they’re on an ocean liner.”