This bright home embodies ‘California gypsy’ style


La Vie Boheme in Palm Beach

Fresh, colorful and free-spirited interiors suit the lifestyle of a hip young international couple to perfection.

White Entrance Living Room with Chandelier and Coat Rack

Designer Krista Watterworth Alterman’s collected approach is evident in the living room, where a Zuo chandelier hangs above a Jonathan Adler daybed positioned in the center of the space. A double chaise sofa and chair, both by Lazar, anchor either side of the room. Just inside the entry door is a rug from Custom Couture Rugs.

White Entry Mudroom with Hanging Hats, Bench and Bag

The entry area doubles as a mudroom and a place to hang hats and discard shoes. The bench from Sunpan in Toronto is topped with a cushion wearing linen from RH and an ikat pillow by Surya. A Brazilian cowhide rug from Pure Rugs in Los Angeles adds a touch of whimsy and warms the original porcelain tile floor laid in a grid pattern.

Wet Bar with Old School Stool and Textured Mirror

A Parsons table from Sunpan, nestled next to the Lazar chair, works as a bar in the living room. The standing mirror is from ABC Carpet & Home, the lamp is by Surya, and the designer found the wood stool at a thrift shop.

Island Flavor Living Room with Local Artwork

Hanging above the living room sofa is a painting by Boca Raton artist Kevin McPherrin; the footstool, fashioned from whitewashed teak with a coconut shell inlay, adds a little island flavor to the mix.

Informal Dining Room with Hanging Chandelier Pendant and Flowers

The informal tone of the dining area suits the style of the house and its owners. Upholstered chairs from RH pull up to a wood table from Four Hands in Austin; the light fixture is by Zuo.

Charming White Country Kitchen with Black Countertops

Alterman repainted the faux-finished kitchen cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White, kept the existing black granite counters and added a subway tile backsplash from Francois & Co. After lowering the island from bar to counter height, the designer finished it with a white Carrara slab from Ceramic Matrix and brought in counter stools from RH.

Kitchen Cabinet Storage with Stool and Desk

Display space comes in the form of the kitchen’s open shelving and glass-front cabinets accented with fan-shaped brushed-nickel cabinet pulls from Miller’s Fine Hardware. The desk is topped with the same black granite found throughout the space, and the midcentury-style walnut stool features a marigold woven-rope seat.

Coffee Table Family Room with Plant and Mirror

A Bert England coffee table is the organizing feature in the family room, designed with relaxation in mind. The Lazar Baci swivel chair wears a Lazar fabric called Skimi Smoke Silver, and the RH sofa is topped with an Elaine Smith pillow.

Hermes Basket Vignette Photograph

Snowy, bleached-white walls throughout the house provide the backdrop for items such as the artwork in the family room by New York photographer Willis Roberts.

White Light Office with Chandelier and Lots of Shelving

The light-filled office is punctuated with a desk and retro light fixture from Zuo, a desk chair from Sunpan and a Surya turquoise lamp; the area rug is from Stanton Carpet in Syosset, New York.

Master Bedroom Vignette with Traditional Mirror and Colorful Bedding

The master bedroom features an eclectic blend of items including a Lazar bed. The Lexington bedside table is topped with a Surya lamp and a mirror from Uttermost in Rocky Mount, Virginia.

Master Bedroom Reading Nook with Animal Statue

In the master bedroom reading nook, a Lazar chair and the adjacent wood cube table both boast a midcentury profile. The Duxbury floor lamp by Surya and a rug from Custom Couture Rugs round out the space.

The first time designer Krista Watterworth Alterman met the distaff side of her client duo, the wife was wearing a vintage straw fedora and a flowing white cotton maxi dress. “That gave me a peek into her chic sense of style and elegance,” says Alterman, who took that as a sign for the direction their home should go. “First impressions are often a springboard for invention, and I knew their house needed to showcase a lifestyle and the philosophy of the inhabitants.” 

The homeowners, a well-traveled young couple with two children and international roots (she is Eastern European, and his parents are from Argentina), were delighted to find a Mediterranean-style home in a choice neighborhood in Jupiter. “We loved the layout, and when you walk in the front door you see right out to the pool,” says the husband. Not so enchanting were the drab yellow walls, miles of carpet and the four faux Roman columns at the entrance. At that point, they started searching online for an interior designer. “There was a lot of typical Florida design out there, but that wasn’t right for us,” says the husband, who admits to minimalist leanings. “My wife is from Warsaw, and we wanted someone who could balance European style with American comfort; someone who could add oomph without clutter.” Alterman, who isn’t afraid to color outside the classic lines or interject bold palette choices with measured panache, proved the perfect choice. 

Starting with the easy fixes, such as removing the columns and carpet, Alterman saved the tile floors and refreshed the kitchen with new marble on the counters and backsplash. When it came time for furnishings, to say she started from scratch would be a gross understatement. “We sold our previous home with everything in it and didn’t even have a fork,” says the husband. Undaunted, Alterman jumped right in. Building on her initial instinct for highlighting the couple’s lifestyle, she established a design theme she dubbed “colorful California gypsy.” “Based on who they are, their abode called for a worldly touch,” she says. “It needed elements that looked like they came from their travels—found, weathered, distressed pieces that would fit perfectly with a minimalist counterpoint.” But first it required the appropriate backdrop, and according to Alterman, the primary layer of the big picture was snowy, bleached-white walls. “Then I selected all the frosty linen and cotton furnishings and added in rattan pieces and a hide rug—things that look like they were found while experiencing life,” she says. 

At the core of the gypsy-mode style, often called bohemian-chic, is a feeling of romance and spontaneity and a collected style that is not easy to achieve. For inspiration, Alterman admits channeling HGTV’s Emily Henderson, host of Secrets From a Stylist. “She’s the queen of the unplanned planned room, and she knows how to make boho-chic feel like a lifestyle, not just a design style,” says the designer, who followed Henderson’s lead by creating organic spaces that look and feel as if they evolved over time. 

Part of that plan included peppering the spaces with classic midcentury modern pieces. In the living room, for example, the Parsons table-turned-bar, the steel-cage hourglass side tables and a floor lamp inspired by Flos’ Arco light that floats above the sofa provide the requisite charm without going overboard. Inspired by seating at a South Beach restaurant, the designer placed two chaise lounges together in the room for a bed-like effect. “Imagine those upholstered in orange velvet, and it’s pure Knoll 1970s,” she says. 

Relying on buyer talent at places such as ABC Carpet & Home, as well as combing through thrift shops and flea markets, the tenacious designer unearthed treasures such as the Lane walnut cube side tables in the master bedroom, a classic Sputnik chandelier that hangs above a Vamdrup Stolefabrik rosewood side conversion table in the offce and a vintage tripod plant stand with an ostrich leather-and-walnut top. Color arrives in the form of accessories such as the turquoise lamps on the living room side tables and accent pillows and throws in all shades of pink. “I love the use of pink, berry and fuchsia in adult spaces,” Alterman says. “It takes a traditionally feminine color and forces you to see it differently.” 

In addition to her dead-on design style, the owners heartily appreciated Alterman’s willingness to work within their price range. “She’s a pretty accomplished designer, and she made it easy for us to stick to our budget,” says the husband. For Alterman, whose many credits include having hosted HGTV’s Splurge & Save, paying attention to the bottom line was all part of the day’s work—a particularly easy task when you go bohemian. “This style is meant to showcase a life of travel. It’s about a free-spirited world with items discovered at street fairs and thrift shops—where one person’s trash is another’s treasure,” she says. “It’s the creativity in each selection that’s important, not the price tag.” 

Mindy Pantiel