“Architecturally heavy” is the diplomatic term that Miles Redd uses to describe the original state of the sprawling Palm Beach home that his clients, a couple with four grown children, had tasked the New York designer and Redd Kaihoi principal with freshening up. Built in the 1980s, it boasted 12-foot-high ceilings and windows galore, but an abundance of dark wood paneling, highly polished floors, and other too-formal features were dated.
“Thanks to their East Coast upbringings, the clients have a real appreciation for classical design, but in the lightest and airiest sense,” explains Redd, who worked closely on the overhaul with Connor Lucas, a project manager at Redd Kaihoi. “The family was moving from another fairly traditionally decorated home in California, and they wanted their new house to have more of a beachy feel while maintaining a sense of classicism that the architecture required and inspired.”
The clients also had an incredibly tight deadline, giving the designers just eight months to renovate and redecorate the 9,000-square-foot house, which includes seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, and two powder rooms. “It wasn’t a generous timeline, especially in today’s world of extended lead times and shortages,” recalls Redd. His solution? Skirt the supply chain by reusing almost all of the clients’ existing furniture and decor. “It was a challenge,” Redd admits. “But it was also so helpful for expediting the process and a fun activity to stretch our creativity,” he gamely adds.
The transformative powers of fabric and paint were key to reimagining the existing furniture. Take the dining room chairs, which decorative painter Agustin Hurtado coated in a chalky shade of white, the seats redone in a textured Madagascar cloth. In the living room, sofas and chairs from the clients’ previous house were slipcovered in white linen with contrasting blue welt; in the sunroom, seating was re-covered in beachy terrycloth; for the primary bedroom, Redd and Lucas paid homage to old-fashioned Palm Beach decorating with stately bedhangings and matching upholstery in a Kathryn Ireland floral. Lamps were updated with colorful printed (or painted) shades, and skirts were added to everything from ottomans to case goods (“to add softness to hard architecture and to bring in as much fabric as possible,” Redd notes).
The blue-and-white color palette, a perfect complement to the lush natural landscape, was also partly a result of convenience. “The clients had selected a lot of blue pieces for their previous house that we realized we could reuse, so it seemed like the natural way to go,” says Redd. A handful of pieces were left in their original upholstery (Italian chairs in flannel pinstripes, traditional chintz pillows), which Redd balanced out with blue-and-white textiles that felt decidedly laid-back and even a bit bohemian (think Indian blockprints in all shapes and sizes).
Further playing up that casual bent, Redd and Lucas brought in a truckload of rattan, much of it vintage and sourced from The Antique and Artisan Gallery in Connecticut rather than usual stops on Palm Beach’s Dixie Highway. “There was a practical reason behind it—everybody goes to Palm Beach looking for rattan, so while there’s great stuff to be had, it does get picked over,” explains Redd. He mixed a few off-the-rack gems with their vintage counterparts; a pair of comfortable Bielecky Brothers bamboo armchairs in the dining room “makes it more of a destination that people will spend time in outside of meals.”
Strategic surface changes added some much-needed lightness: “We toned down the formality of the house by honing formerly polished limestone floors, painting the woodwork in soft whites, and bleaching dark hardwood floors,” explains Redd. “Miles of jute rugs” provide even more softness and warmth, while an abundance of textured grasscloth wallcoverings (striped in the dining room, painted white in the living room and foyer) made the towering rooms more intimate.
While the house’s structure was mostly unchanged, the “dated” kitchen and bathrooms were updated by California-based architect Jackie Yahn to make them more modern and functional and she repainted the yellowish exterior in creamy white and added custom blue shutters. Yahn also moved the swimming pool—formerly tucked away near the guest wing—to a new location just outside the living room, which further tempers the space’s formal feel. (“Quite a feat in eight months!” adds Redd.) Palm Beach landscape architect Mario Nievera redesigned the property’s hardscape and added new plantings for increased privacy.
At the same time, Redd and Lucas made sure that the house’s classical bones received their due. “We kept choice pieces of ‘brown wood’ furniture to contrast all the lightness and complement the traditional architecture,” notes Redd. “Ultimately, it’s always about creating that tension and finding what works,” he adds. “You keep putting things together and eventually it becomes the most delightful bouillabaisse!”
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THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE WINTER 2023 ISSUE OF FREDERIC. CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE!