Many Cultures Merge in a Worldly Palm Beach Retreat

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Dutch Delight in Palm Beach

South Africa's traditional Cape Dutch architecture inspires a design team to create a worldly vacation home in Palm Beach.

Traditional White Front Door Entryway with Lush Plantings Surround

Brilliant white stucco walls frame the oak door by Beacon Construction Group with a diamond pattern that signals a recurring motif used throughout the home; the lantern light fixtures are from The Urban Electric Co. in North Charleston, South Carolina. Landscape architect Mario Nievera lined the walkway with lush plantings, including travelers palms and tree ferns.

Limed-Oak Paneled Entry Vestibule with Portuguese Tiles

Limed-oak paneling crafted by Beacon Construction Group envelops the entry vestibule, which is paved in antique reclaimed hand-painted Portuguese tiles from Solar Antique Tiles. A dramatic pendant by Paul Ferrante lights the space.

Mixed and Matched White Entryway with Yellow Ottomans

In the entry, designer Jennifer Garrigues juxtaposed styles, mixing an 18th-century Italian console table with colorful modern art. The curved Swedish sofa wearing Fortuny fabric is from Lars Bolander, the custom gold cube-shaped ottomans are by Holly Hunt, and the Formations mirror is from Jerry Pair & Associates. The antique French refined limestone floor is from Paris Ceramics.

Multi-Colored Living Room with Limestone Fireplace and Gate

A massive limestone fireplace provides the focal point in the living room, which is balanced by two sofas from the homeowners’ collection re-covered in a Calvin Fabrics textile. The hand-painted coffee table is by Joseph Steiert, and the custom-knotted Bessarabian rug is by Doris Leslie Blau. Mid- 20th-century Venetian mirrors from John Rosselli & Associates in New York hang above a pair of French demilunes.

All-Custom Terracotta Vignette with Hand-Painted Tile

A custom hand-painted Portuguese tile mural from Solar Antique Tiles provides the backdrop for the bar built by Beacon Construction Group. The glazed terra-cotta floor tile is from Walker Zanger in New York, and the French barley-twist chairs are 19th-century antiques.

Diamond-Patterned Coffered Ceiling with a Cape Dutch Touch

The geometry of architect David Neff’s diamond-pattern-coffered ceiling brings a Cape Dutch touch to the spacious light-filled dining room. The custom chairs are from John Rosselli & Associates, and the Niermann Weeks console table is from Michael Taylor Collections. The table and chandelier are both by Dessin Fournir from J Nelson.

Portuguese Palace-Inspired Tile-Clad Kitchen

Inspired by photos of rooms in Portuguese palaces clad in colorful hand-painted tiles, every wall of the kitchen is covered with diamond- motif tiles from Solar Antique Tiles. Pendants from Ann-Morris in New York light the white counters and white-painted cabinets by Beacon Construction Group; the McGuire barstools are from Baker.

Old-World Inspired Well-Lit Pantry with Storage Abound

The spacious and well-lit pantry features limed-oak shelves by Beacon Construction Group and wall tile from Solar Antique Tiles.

Romantic Gauzy Taupe Master Bathroom

With its gauzy C&C Milano draperies from Holland & Sherry, the master bathroom evokes a feeling of romance. The homeowners’ chair, re-covered in Elizabeth Eakins fabric, and an ottoman from Jennifer Garrigues Inc., upholstered in Quadrille fabric, set the scene for the Waterworks tub from Miller’s Fine Hardware.

Turquoise and Brown Master Bedroom with Four Poster Bed and Antiques

A linen-print Quadrille fabric on the custom curtains and duvet establishes the turquoise and brown color scheme in the master bedroom, where a bed from Mecox Gardens rests on a hand-knotted wool-and-bamboo-silk rug from Doris Leslie Blau. The homeowners’ secretary was repainted in turquoise and gold, and the wedding chest inlaid with mother-of-pearl is from Jennifer Garrigues Inc.

Exterior Bridge that Doubles as a Seating Area

The upper-level bridge that connects the main house with the guesthouse also serves as an outdoor seating area. The relaxed suite of furnishings from Country Casual Teak in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is covered with Sunbrella fabric, and the flooring is limestone.

Exterior Bridge Surrounded by Lots of Vegetation

The loggia, tucked below the bridge/patio area, is open on two sides with views of the pool in one direction and the golf course in the other. Concrete tiles distinguish the rooftops from the white stucco walls; classical Italian detail is added with the curved chimney cap.

Many interior designers think of furniture in one of two ways—contemporary or traditional. Not Jennifer Garrigues. “I think of furniture like people at a party,” she says. “You want to make sure everyone gets on with one another, but you want a lot of different personalities, too. And no one should be boring.” It was with this idea in mind that Garrigues, along with architect David Neff, crafted a Cape Dutch-style home overlooking a golf course in North Palm Beach that is anything but boring. 

When the owners, Sally and Tom Neff, first started working with Garrigues for the interiors, as well as their son, David Neff, for the architecture, they were deciding between either a Bermuda or a Mediterranean style. Then, a bucket-list trip to Cape Town, South Africa, changed everything. “There was something romantic about the Cape Dutch architecture and specifically the rooflines,” recalls Sally, who also liked the correlation between the architecture and the landscape she observed while traveling through the wine country, particularly the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Upon their return, the couple decided they wanted a home that would embrace the defining elements of Cape Dutch design.

Answering this request, David Neff, who consulted on the project with Kevin Asbacher of Asbacher Architecture, configured the structure’s design with curlicue-curved roof parapets floating atop cloud-white walls. In contrast, the fenestration is a deep chocolate brown with a bronze finish. The high window heads, complex ceilings and untrimmed window and door openings are nods to the South African inspiration, says David Neff, adding that he slightly scaled down the features from a typical Cape Dutch farm estate. “There, the ceilings would likely be over 10 feet,” says the architect. “The overall palette fits that style, but we adapted the plan to modern living with the wide opening between the kitchen and family room and the multiple French doors that connect indoors and outdoors.” 

David Neff collaborated with landscape architect Mario Nievera to finesse the house onto the tight triangular site, splitting it into three parts, with the home itself becoming an asymmetrical block linked by a spacious loggia to a guesthouse. They placed the entry on the side rather than at the front of the house, which allowed the walled courtyard to remain private. It also has the effect of extending the entire entry experience. “Whether you are inside or out, there’s a feeling that the landscape is never-ending,” says Nievera. “The vistas are incredible, and the natural light follows you wherever you go. It’s like a movie in soft focus, and you’re in a bubble that immediately shifts your mood.” 

Builder Michael Conville was tasked with completing the project in under a year, just in time for the couple’s annual Christmas Eve party. He pulled it off using detailed planning and a team of experienced subcontractors. “There was nothing particularly complex about the structure, but the finishes were incredibly custom and complex to manage,” he says. The first swath of those finishes is obvious in the entry vestibule with its limed-oak walls and Portuguese tile. “The tile is an intricate part of the overall scheme,” Garrigues says, adding that she and her teammate, Diana El-Daher, developed concepts and palettes for the delicate hand-painted tile. “It sets the tone for the whole home.” 

In the living room, Garrigues created her A-list party of furniture. The diva guest is a 19th-century French highback sofa, while the matching chairs, upholstered in Fortuny fabric, seem like two dear friends, and the two white linen-clad sofas are a comfortable couple; the two Chippendale-style side chairs that flank the fireplace are reminiscent of the gracious great-aunt and great-uncle everyone adores. Colors in the fabrics and knotted rugs, tied ever-so-subtly to the contemporary art, are rich without being saturated and offer a little something to talk about. “Good design isn’t always about the designer; it’s about projecting the personality of the owners into every room,” Garrigues says. 

The dining room is a case study of restrained simplicity. A round pedestal table is girdled with six cream-colored fret-backed chairs beneath a brass-and-bronze chandelier, and a chevron motif expresses itself on the coffered ceiling. Nearby, all the walls of the kitchen, not simply the backsplash, are sheathed in a dramatic diamond-patterned aqua-and-chocolate tile. This color is contrasted and enhanced by the white cabinetry and countertops. The adjacent pantry is treated as a small room with teal tile, oak shelves and a big window to brighten the space. 

The white walls with the stone and tile floors that work so well downstairs sing on the upper level as well. In the master bedroom, color comes in the form of a pale teal-and-beige duvet that complements the hues of the ikat-patterned rug. “It’s the use of color that makes this a very beautiful and happy environment,” says Sally. And in addition to the color, Garrigues says that the simplicity of the white plaster backdrop is an essential design element in the bedroom and every room in the house. “It’s the walls that provide the necessary visual relief in every space,” says Garrigues. “They are what made it possible to introduce the tiles, the modern art and all manner of color, which is what provides the home with a sense of drama.” 

Patrick Soran

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