When designer Nicole White put the finishing touches on an art-filled condo in a South Florida high-rise, she was sure the job was done. After all, her clients were thrilled with the results. But not long after the project was completed, White received a call from the couple, who were having second thoughts. As much as they loved the design, they found themselves longing for more space to host friends and family—and had decided to upgrade to a sprawling private residence.
The significantly larger house in Pinecrest would require new acquisitions as well as the reimagining of existing pieces—and White knew exactly where to start. “The clients are avid collectors, and big supporters of Black artists, especially. It was beautiful to design a home where art is so appreciated and valued. We knew we could build a whole story around their collection once again,” she says.
A large part of that story meant honoring the disparate styles of the husband and wife—she loves bold design, while he prefers minimalism. But unlike the condo, whose spatial constraints had called for a more neutral approach, the sheer size of the new home gave White, aided by general contractor Jason Bush and project supervisor Antonio Fernandez, more leeway to incorporate the two styles into the renovation.
To create a moment of pure drama in the living area, the designer found a stunning slab of green-streaked marble for the fireplace surround, complemented by a tight edit of streamlined furnishings. A grouping of soaring chandeliers offers another thrilling moment, while at the same time artistically bringing down the ceiling, fostering a feeling of intimacy. The call for drama also presented the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the couple’s more spectacular works of art. A striking statue by Woodrow Nash greets guests near the entryway, while an elaborate beaded wood necklace holds court on a nearby wall.
With a juxtaposition of grand gestures and quieter moments at the front of the house, White knew the rest of the rooms needed to similarly rise to the occasion. In a petite bathroom, she chose a wallcovering featuring lush foliage as a nod to the wife’s glamorous tastes, with a more muted floating vanity providing soft balance. And in the kitchen, boldly marbleized counters pop against neutral cabinetry. While the original kitchen featured two islands, White removed the second in favor of a large central one in order to better accommodate the owners’ many parties and charity events. “They wanted a drink trough in the island to put bottles in and for folks to gather around,” she adds.
Creating an inviting space for visitors also informed the design of the guesthouse. “I wanted anyone staying here to really feel as if they’re on vacation,” White notes. Inspired by a recent trip to Tulum, Mexico, where she became “obsessed with the abundance of texture,” the designer chose a distinctive palm-print wallpaper for both the bedroom and breakfast area. “When I saw that pattern, I thought, ‘This feels like the outdoors to me.’ It was perfect.” Still, the soft palette keeps the atmosphere serene.
For her personal office, however, the wife was ready to fully stake her maximalist claim. “She sent me a whole design book on how far she wanted this to go. She wanted a ‘more is more’ approach,” White recalls of her client’s vision. They initially settled on a moody green palette to play off the living room, but when the wife saw—and fell in love with—the “mom cave” White designed in her own home, featuring bold, black-painted walls, she requested a similar look. A bright-pink tufted sofa became the room’s centerpiece with a graphic rug underfoot and sculptural light fixture overhead, tying the space together.
“As a designer, you have to listen to your clients and not get caught in the middle,” White explains. Yet, she also understands the persuasive powers of a fabulous design. The husband, for example, was not enthusiastic about the concept for his wife’s office initially. “But now,” White laughs, “he hangs out in there all the time.”