When winter arrives in New England, Bill and Emma Roberts won’t be around. The Massachusetts couple will have flown down the coast to their newly renovated Palm Beach bungalow, leaving a snowy land far behind.
The 1960s house was just what the Robertses were looking for, so when it appeared on the market, they jumped. “They texted me the listing photo with the note, ‘Your next project,’” recalls designer Leandra Fremont-Smith. “It was such fun to think about.”
The homeowners were of the same mindset. “Bill and I work a lot and need our homes to be peaceful sanctuaries,” Emma says. “We always lean toward casual elegance, continuity of color and a calm environment.” Their Boston residence emanates understated formality, while their summer house in Maine–also by Fremont-Smith–takes its cozy cues from the Arts and Crafts creations of William Morris. Yet the designer had an inkling her clients might be open to a different aesthetic for the bungalow’s interiors. She was correct.
“It’s traditional with a fresh, vibrant feel,” notes Fremont-Smith, who worked with project manager Andrea DiBello. “We combined hand-blocked wallpapers and bohemian fabrics with a neutral backdrop and punches of color.” Plans for a low-key renovation, signed off by architect of record Jeremy Walter of Jeremy K. Walter Architects, establish a breezy setting for the midcentury structure. General contractors Ken Weitz and Steve Romanowski, along with builder Justin Romanowski, made changes such as remodeling bathrooms, enlarging doorways and transforming a linen closet into a cheery wet bar with woodwork painted a glossy orange inspired by the Hermes signature shade. “Leandra gave us her inspiration picture, and then we did the geometry to fit the space,” Weitz says about the cocktail nook. “I love its intricate cabinetry.”
The bar is the most prominent of several orange accents Fremont-Smith incorporated throughout the home, pairing the hue with complementary shades of blue to ramp up the Floridian ambience. A pale blue ceiling emphasizes the openness of the living and dining areas, while patterned wallpaper enlivens private spaces. The powder room shows off a bold palm tree design (“Palm Beach was the perfect place for it,” the designer notes), and another wallcovering strategically creates a tented sensation in a guest bedroom. “We chose a hand-blocked paper from Pierre Frey and carried it up to the ceilings to add height,” Fremont-Smith explains. “It’s an elegant backdrop for this room. It’s inventive and restful and adds a layer of detail.”
Like their surroundings, furnishings balance neutrals and prints, drawing the eye to statement pieces: a blue and white rug in the dining area, a tortoiseshell cocktail table in the living space, patterned pillows throughout. They also partner with Antique Row finds, sourced serendipitously–like the pair of wood pedestals that support the dining table’s glass top. “It’s fun to hunt, especially in Palm Beach,” Fremont-Smith says of shopping locally.
The interiors’ energetic vibe continues outdoors, where landscape designer Jeffrey Thompson manicured the modest grounds with plantings like jasmine and calamondin orange trees. “It’s a postage stamp garden, so we stayed true to the straight lines of the existing hardscape, creating gathering points and a new patio off the master,” he says. Framed by a hedge wall, the backyard features a pool at its center and is enhanced by natural fragrances. “I love taking my shoes off and opening the sliding glass doors,” Emma says. “Nothing is better than the gardenias blooming by the pool.”
Between the relaxing outdoor spaces and the sunny interior, the home is a place for the owners to catch their breath. “Having such busy work lives, we relish arriving in Palm Beach,” Emma says. “The moment we walk through the front door, the weight of the day vanishes.”