Seeking a warm respite from their primary home in Short Hills, New Jersey, an empty-nester couple couldn’t pass up a condo they found in Delray Beach. A few blocks from the ocean and steps from bustling Atlantic Avenue and its dazzling bounty of restaurants, boutiques and galleries, its location was ideal, but its interiors were in sad shape—with weary cabinets and flooring and finishes that were decades old. So, the couple had the home gutted and enlisted designer Cindy West Ray to help reimagine it into a contemporary beach retreat. “They’re a really hip couple,” Ray says. “They wanted to open it up and make it functional for entertaining. And they’re family-oriented, so they designated rooms for their two children, who are grown but visit often. The wife has a great eye, but she wasn’t sure how to lay it out.”
The biggest challenge was making the best use of the condo’s long, narrow living room, which needed to perform various functions. “The owners wanted to have an eat-in area, a media space and room for a bar—because they love to sit and have a cocktail when they entertain friends,” Ray says. She used back-to-back sofas to divide the main part of the space in two, creating a television area on one side and an intimate conversation area on the other.
To further the uninhibited multipurpose concept, “We tore down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, so it all became one space,” says builder Mitch Gold. “We also enlarged the wall a bit between the kitchen and the living room, to give the kitchen a more airy feel.” That gap became a pass-through to a long, sleek bar that runs along the wall of the conversation pit. Next, some of the windows that looked onto the patio were replaced with doors, so that during parties, the couple can now open the French and sliding doors to the terrace to create one free-flowing indoor-outdoor space.
The master bath, like the living room, also needed some reorganization. “The wall between the master bathroom and closet was removed, and we used that whole space for the new bathroom,” Gold says. “Then Cindy designed gorgeous wall-to-wall millwork that houses their clothes.”
Next, Ray got to work on the palette, keeping it generally subdued but adding lively bursts of color. “When we first met, the homeowner had a purse with her that was a little more teal than simply blue—patent leather, a big tote,” Ray recalls. “She said, ‘I want to use this color with gray.’ So that was the inspiration for the base colors—neutrals, grays and whites, with that beautiful blue shade as an accent. Her daughter also had a lot of input, and she loves orange, so we brought in that color, as well.”
While the furnishings have clean, modern shapes, Ray incorporated rich textures throughout the home. “There’s leather, mohair, suede—textiles that make everything warmer,” she says. “The coffee table in the bar area consists of two reclaimed wood blocks that have had layers and layers of paint applied to them over the years. There’s a little bit of rustic and a little bit of glam, and that’s the client’s preference. When she dresses, she’s hip and current, but she appreciates the eclecticism of, say, Native American jewelry mixed in with her wardrobe. I think her personality really comes through in this design.”
The condo was finished off with plenty of custom millwork, including tongue-and-groove ceilings. “The wife loved that detail as a nod to a beach house,” Ray says. To emphasize the seaside feeling, Ray used nautically inspired lighting, evident in the fixtures over the dining room table. “At night, and when you turn on those lights and dim them down, the condo has such a nice soft glow to it,” Gold says. “It has a contemporary look, but it also has a wonderful blend of homeyness and warmth.”