Many designers would be overwhelmed at the thought of outfitting a home in just a few short months. But when designer Mally Skok was tasked with creating a tranquil Palm Beach, Florida, vacation property with a modern, global vibe, she was able to quickly begin implementing her concept. “I’m continually looking, exploring and watching what other designers and artists are doing,” she says. “When it comes time to do a project, I usually have an immediate idea in my mind of furniture placement and the end vision.”
Owning a primary residence in Boston, the clients wanted an uncomplicated retreat where their friends, adult children and grandchildren could gather. The single-level abode by Dailey Janssen Architects in the north end of Palm Beach had been the first property they toured when house hunting. They found themselves instantly attracted to its bright spaces and open floor plan, which conjured a carefree air of being on perpetual holiday. “What I love about the house is the sort of casual-living, Malibu vibe,” the wife says. “You walk in the front door, and the first thing you see is the outside and the pool. It instantly feels relaxing.” The Turkish stone flooring contributes to the mood, as do the soaring beamed ceilings and simple white and gray kitchen.
While the layout of the newly constructed dwelling appealed to the owners, the interior paint colors and light fixtures did not. Skok updated both and then set about curating a diverse selection of artwork, fabrics and rugs, incorporating not just her own creations but also those of her industry friends, to produce a layered, lived-in look. “There’s so much talent out there, and I love back-and- forth collaboration and integrating other designers’ work into my projects,” she says. “Personally, I think it’s boring to only use your own fabrics.”
Born and raised in South Africa, Skok lived in London for several years and brings an international sensibility to her projects through her use of eclectic fabrics and daring combination of bold patterns and rich textures. Elements of a Skok design are easy to identify, as in this residence: In the foyer is a settee she upholstered in a graphic Zulu-inspired material. Opposite is a dramatic braided ra a mirror, and on a nearby wall are painted ceramic plates by an emerging South African artist she discovered.
Just past the foyer are the living and dining areas, where Skok kept the furnishings neutral to employ her trademark mix. Pillows in graphic red and blue prints top the cream-colored sofa. Striking abstract art enlivens the dining area. And a trio of South African basket lids decorate a hallway leading to the master bedroom, where a tufted yellow bed and tropical window treatments add a youthful note. Down the hall, an explosion of unexpected patterns of Skok’s own design infuses the wife’s office with whimsy.
Throughout the home, the designer emphasized an informal Palm Beach vibe by sourcing accessories from Antique Row shops and other local vintage stores. A framed Japanese print discovered nearby hangs in the guest bedroom, and perched on the living area’s replace mantel is a growing flock of porcelain parrots–cheeky findings Skok calls her “wink to Palm Beach.”
Yet the essence of the locale is best captured in the home’s outdoor gathering spots. The U-shaped structure wraps around the pool, yielding a private backyard as well as an extra-deep loggia. That space–a key attraction for the couple, as the wife loves spending time outside–allowed Skok to form an exterior dining spot and a living area, outfitted with a large sectional. Continuing the strategy from inside, she kept the furnishings white and introduced color through pillows clad in wildly printed fabrics.
Despite the home’s lived-in feel, Skok completed the job swiftly and effortlessly by heeding her own design advice: “‘Enjoy yourself’ is what I tell clients. There is a lot of serendipity in each project, and sometimes you just have to follow that instead of the rules. Decorate, and then get on with your life.”