Hearing interior designer Jackie Armour tell the story about the diamond-in-the-rough home that caught her eye in Tequesta sounds like the beginning of a Nancy Drew novel. “I had always been intrigued by the house, because it sits back from the road,” she says. “The vegetation was very overgrown, and you really couldn’t get a good view of the property.” Living around the corner, Armour often passed the site—nearly an acre—during evening strolls around her neighborhood.
When the abode hit the market, a realtor friend invited her for a tour. “Once I walked through, I thought, ‘Oh God, this has so much potential,’” the interior designer remembers. Although the 1989 split-level required some updates, she saw good bones and myriad perks, including high ceilings and rows of sliding glass doors opening to an umbrageous pool deck. “I felt really good in the house, like I was home,” Armour says. Soon enough, she was home: She and her husband, Alan, sold their family residence of 34 years, and the empty nesters embraced the challenge of starting over. “I was very empowered by some of my clients in their mid-60s and 70s who were building new homes and taking on big projects,” the interior designer says, “and I felt like I could do this, too.”
Although the house the couple had built in 1987 sits down the street from their new address, the two structures couldn’t be more different. Their previous residence had an old Florida aesthetic with a wraparound porch, compartmentalized layout and traditional design with estate antiques. The new home, meanwhile, presents a modern- coastal feel with shiplap siding and a tin roof. So the couple decided to welcome the change and make a departure from their previous style. “I knew this house could be really great for entertaining,” Armour says. “Spaces were large and open to each other, and it had great potential for a relaxed, cool, party beach house.”
The work began outside, where she tackled the rampant overgrowth and revitalized specimen trees, including a weeping yaupon holly. The process yielded a surprising discovery: a buried pond once inhabited by koi fish. Now fully restored, the pond waterfall serves as a backdrop for cocktail parties and alfresco dinners.
Next, the interior designer drenched the formerly yellow exterior in bright white, complemented with blue shutters. Inside, she installed French oak flooring and treated ceilings with nickel joint for a modern touch. Armour originally envisioned a white backdrop for the interiors. However, “I never met a pattern or a color I didn’t love,” she admits. “I had a vision for a palette that was going to be light and airy, and I wanted it to feel more tropical.” That’s when the interior designer came across a citron botanical-print fabric that would shape the design of the entire residence. “I always like to start with textiles,” she explains. “That was my jumping-off point for the whole interior of the house.” Armour used the material for draperies in the living, dining and sitting areas, all within view of each other from the entry. “Seeing that fabric repeated everywhere brings the spaces together and gives you a really nice, cohesive feeling when you walk in,” she explains.
Similarly, “I didn’t want a standard white kitchen,” the interior designer notes, opting instead for blue cabinetry. To define the space— which opens to the dining, living and sitting areas—she applied a blue tribal-style wallpaper on two walls, repeating the pattern in the nearby stairwell for more cohesion.
The staircase leads to the main bedroom, where once again, Armour embraced pattern on the walls—this time columns of foliage in tranquil pinks, greens and whites. A pagoda-style bed and retro-looking ceiling fan inject midcentury modern sensibility, while the room’s pink draperies frame window views of tall oaks. “I feel like I’m in a treehouse,” she muses. Outside, the interior designer balanced the magnitude of white space on the L-shaped loggia with durable seating fabrics blocked in aquas and mustard yellows. “If I didn’t know this was a home, I might think this is a resort area,” she says. “It’s very island-like but very luxurious.”
Now, having undergone a redesign of her own—and all the emotions that come with it— Armour says the experience was a reminder of the gratitude she holds for clients having confidence in her capabilities. “It’s a big leap of faith,” she reflects. “I’m really thankful they’ve put a lot of trust in myself and my team.”