Britt Taner has created nearly a decade of fond memories at the vacation home she shares with her husband, Kerim, and their three children in the Windsor community of Vero Beach. “Some of our dearest friends now are from the area,” says Taner, a Chicago-based interior designer. “It’s like summer camp, where the kids see all their friends. We love our house—it’s our happy place.”
Situated on a lush island, the community of Windsor was created by town planners Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk in the New Urbanism style, an innovative design movement that artfully mixes private and public spaces. The family appreciated the home’s Anglo-Caribbean architecture—originally designed by architect Armando Montero, formerly of the Montero Group—but after enjoying their home for several years, they were ready to give the home a bit of a refresh.
The designer began by lightening up the 3,190-square-foot cottage-like abode using fresh white tones throughout, including on the floors and the walls, to emphasize the natural light within the spaces. “The home originally had dark cherrywood floors that were in pretty bad shape because the previous owners had a dog,” Taner says. “So I decided to place sea grass over them, which helped make the rooms feel cozier as well. I then painted the floor in the kitchen and on the landing white to add a fun beachy feeling.” She also painted the millwork, which was powder blue, a crisp white.
To enliven the dwelling’s new clean canvas, Taner added splashes of pattern and tropical hues. “I collected a bunch of fabrics and wallpapers that caught my eye, brought them home, and spread them all out,” she says. “Color makes me happy. My grandmother, who lived in Florida, was an interior designer, so I grew up with all the wonderful colorful chintzes that she had, kind of like growing up in a Brunschwig & Fils showroom.” As an homage to her grandmother, the designer incorporated several of that brand’s wallpapers into the home, including a lively palm tree print in the master bedroom. “It’s pretty and has a sense of humor,” she says. “It’s fun to lay in the bed surrounded by this Florida motif. And as you look through the French doors, there are more [living] palm trees. We’re in Florida, so let’s be in Florida!”
Throughout the residence, Taner wanted to keep that same sense of whimsy, so she mixed contemporary and vintage pieces to create a more eclectic vibe. An ideal example of that blended aesthetic is the sitting room, which is centered on a vintage kilim rug the designer obtained at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, inspiring the vibrant hues and fabrics for the entire space. “I felt that the rug, with its fantastic colors, would be perfect for the house,” she says, adding that the piece also carries special meaning since her husband is Turkish. To round out the room, which also functions as the entry, Taner incorporated two loveseats with a familial history. “They were in my dad’s apartment when he met my mother,” says the designer, who re-covered them in chartreuse linen. “I grew up with those loveseats, so it’s fun to see them in a new setting.” Overall, the room has a more casual feel ideal for the family of five. “That sitting room was the previous owner’s dining room, but we’re not that formal,” Taner says.
The designer aimed to create another intimate and cozy space in the living room. To do so, she covered the walls with a gray grass cloth with a gold metallic backing and added chartreuse draperies and armchairs for splashes of color. She then finished the space with a vintage cocktail table from the family’s primary home in Chicago. “My husband can be watching a game in the living room, and my daughters and I will be reading magazines in the sitting room,” Taner says, explaining how both rooms encourage a relaxed atmosphere. And, since Taner and her husband host impromptu dinner parties, having two conversation spaces comes in handy.
To adjust for the lack of dining space, however, Taner incorporated a table in the kitchen, where builder Scott McCracken helped the designer attain a clean, modern aesthetic. “We put in a new tile backsplash,” Taner says. “We also painted the cabinetry, put on new hardware and redid the island, including all new appliances.”
Out in the yard, the overgrown landscaping also got a transformation. “At the corners of the pool, there were four gigantic palm trees that I’m sure were lovely when they first went in, but they were taking over the property,” the designer says. “So we took out the palms, which created a more open feeling in the pool courtyard.”
While Taner took the design lead, her husband also weighed in. “Thank goodness, we’re on the same page,” she says. “He defers to me on fabrics and wallpapers. But in terms of the art, we always pick it out together.” Meanwhile, the couple’s three daughters each chose the design direction for their bedrooms. “I treat them like little clients, presenting several concepts,” the designer says.
As much as she loves designing for clients, Taner finds a special joy in designing for her family. “I have an idea in my head, and I don’t have to convince anyone else of it—except maybe my husband,” she teases. “We’re so happy to be in such a fun house, and I love that our kids have grown up in it. We have so many memories here.”