When a couple decided their Palm Beach vacation home needed a modest refresh, they asked their longtime interior designer, Kelly Anthony, to help select new options for the walls and flooring. But comparing paint swatches quickly turned into something much more. “We studied the house for a bit, and I said, ‘I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news,’” Anthony told her clients. “‘The good news is I’m not going to change one thing. The bad news is I’m going to change everything.”
Nearly a decade earlier, Anthony had designed the dwelling’s previous iteration, which featured a classic Palm Beach style. This time, however, she envisioned a clean, modern take on the island’s aesthetic, with an open, light-filled plan. Achieving this would require a full gut renovation, so she partnered with general contractor Jason Willoughby as well as Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio to help transform the structure inside and outside.
First on the agenda was overhauling the layout of the main floor. “It had a real Mediterranean vibe—so a lot of confined spaces and darker rooms,” Willoughby recalls. “Everything was kind of sectioned off.” The walls dividing the kitchen, dining area, living room and loggia all came down, creating a long, beautifully flowing space leading to the back courtyard. The general contractor installed steel-framed windows and doors along the back wall to bring in more natural light as well as views of the plunge pool and elegant grounds in the modest courtyard by landscape architect Dustin M. Mizell. “We made a really small space feel more gracious,” says Mizell, who added plantings such as Senegal date palm, yellow tabebuia and jasmine vines. Two dining areas offer ample space for entertaining, and the wine room now functions as a bar thanks to a new pass-through window into the living area. “Once we connected all the spaces and opened up the back of the house, it took on a completely different personality,” Anthony says.
Quinn, meanwhile, worked his magic in the kitchen. To create a sleek space that complements the rest of the architecture, he cleverly hid appliances and gadgets behind retractable doors and deep drawers. Monochromatic materials such as rift-cut oak cabinets, Cristallo quartzite and deep chocolate-hued wood floors set a sophisticated tone. “It was really about creating a space where somebody could cook a meal if they wanted to, but mostly it was a beautiful space,” Quinn says.
Outside, Anthony and Willoughby intended to smooth the exterior’s textured stucco façade and replace the barrel tile roof with a charcoal flat one. But the town’s architectural commission denied the plans, because several nearby residences were being built in a similar transitional style. Instead, they found other ways to modernize the old world style exterior, including introducing a glass- and-steel front door, a motor court and a ribbon driveway. In the end, “we feel the direction the board made us go in actually provided for more of a unique home,” Willoughby reflects. “We kept some of the traditional elements, which give it that real Palm Beach vibe. Then when you walk inside, it wows you even more.”
Simply opening the front door of the Mediterranean-style façade unveils a dramatic surprise: a modern hallway enveloped in crisp white walls and lined with veined marble flooring. Throughout the interior, Anthony pursued a contemporary color palette dominated by black, white and gray, with neutral pops of ivory. As a nod to the wife, who designs clothes, she channeled fashion influence in each space, incorporating Chanel-inspired bouclé, art with a sartorial spin and jewelry-like light fixtures. “She likes things to be feminine, elegant,” the interior designer says of the wife, “but she also likes a bit of glitter and glam.”
Sculptural and curvy furnishings inject an enticing level of comfort, countering some of the dwelling’s more commanding features—like the dark gray linen wing chairs that play off the living area’s striking black marble fireplace, the bar room’s low-slung beige sectional that balances graphic wall art and the rounded velvet sofa that hugs the marble breakfast table. But the coziest space, rightfully so, is the primary bedroom. “We wanted to make the room feel like it was enveloped in fabric,” Anthony says. “The space feels very clean, open and bright.” With the backdrop of a gray marble fireplace, she warmed the room even more with nubby seating, a plush rug and a channel-set vinyl headboard wall, all in neutral shades.
By the end of the renovation, Anthony was proved correct: The team had indeed changed not one thing but rather everything. And that, it turns out, includes the desires of the residents. “They trusted us to give them what they didn’t even know they wanted,” she says.