A family of four loved their cherished neighborhood in Palm Beach Gardens’ Old Palm Golf Club. But with having two teenage girls, they needed space to grow. And along with their flourishing family, homeowners Al and Jeanine Thomson’s tastes were also changing. “The clients wanted to move away from the traditional Mediterranean home with arched windows,” recalls builder and principal Gary Hartogh. The result is transitional on the outside with its stone-and-stucco façade, yet modern inside with clean lines, marble floors and a neutral palette enlivened with punches of color thanks to designer Pauline Hartogh.
Furthering the design team was architect Henry Franky, who divided the house into three residential wings: one for the master bedroom, one for the daughters’ bedroom suites and one for guests. There are formal living and dining areas to the right and left as one enters, but the home’s heart lies in back, where the kitchen, breakfast room, family room and club room open through floor-to-ceiling glass onto a covered loggia and swimming pool.
“That’s really where you get this big impact,” explains Franky, who says that the owners emphasized casual entertainment. “That’s why I did the open kitchen, and very close to their summer kitchen outside. You have all your entertaining right around you. It’s all interconnected, but the kitchen is a focal point.” The husband can indulge his love of cooking while still seeing and talking to the rest of the family out on the loggia. “It ends up being the hub of the house,” he says. The floor-to-ceiling glass not only delivers a bounty of natural light but also helps further this connection to the outside.
Inside, which is more strictly clean-lined contemporary than the transitional exterior architecture, Pauline paid particular attention to the interior architectural details. The ceilings, for instance, not only extend outside with the loggia but also have a precise sculptural quality, such as the ebonized cypress ceiling in the den or the barreled ceiling in the kitchen. “As you go more modern, you’re stripping away those layers. Every detail becomes very important,” the designer explains. “I think the dark wood brings some extra warmth.” Yet the dark textures and surfaces are merely punctuation to a scheme of creamy tones that set the stage for colorful artworks and objects, such as a Dale Chihuly-inspired chandelier over the dining room table.
Each daughter has her own suite and participated in the design brief. One has a retro look complete with disco ball. “She wanted a separate bedroom and living room within her suite,” Pauline recalls. “We designed a wall unit with back-to-back televisions so she can be in bed or on the sofa and watching them.” The other wanted a loft feel, so her sleeping area is raised above to make room for a sectional sofa and study space below. The master suite, on the other hand, is a tranquil oasis, especially the adjacent master bath with a wall of candles giving way to an inviting soaking tub atop polished marble floors.
Amid tropical landscaping of palm trees and grasses, landscape architect John E. Lang took cues from the designer, who shares a passion for spirituality with Jeanine, to create a Chartres-inspired stone labyrinth in the garden for the owners. Though beautiful just as ornament, it’s meant as a tool for meditation and enlightenment. “They were very interested in stimulating their senses,” Lang says. “Usually people talk about plants and patios. They thought more about feelings and what the space meant to them.”
Indeed, although this is a house of sumptuous beauty born from crisp detailing and subtle elegance, its greatest quality may be its sense of harmony. “Everything’s centered and relates from one space to another,” Franky says. “That’s always the fun challenge.”