April 20, 2014


Whether big or small, elaborate or modest....we LOVE them!

Some of us want to be near the ocean or brackish waters while others prefer a lovely lake house surrounded by woods. It’s the 'escape' to the waters edge we all want….


A seaside home represents tranquility and peacefulness, evenings filled with camaraderie; it's a panacea to a hectic urban life.

We'll start with some well known Seaside Homes
(Richard Morris Hunt, Newport Rhode Island)
"The Breakers" a 65,000 square foot home, built in 1895 for Cornelius Vanderbilt II.   It's small, but I still like it.

(Billy Baldwin;  Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France)
This pee-in-your-pants view from the house toward Cap-d'Ail & Monaco is to die for...   "Villa Fiorentina" the absolute most famous seaside house everrrrr!!   In 1969 Billy Baldwin decorated this villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France for Harting & Mary Wells Lawrence, and it's still considered one of Billy Baldwin's most important jobs in his career.

(Frank Lloyd Wright; Mill Run, Pennsylvania)
"Fallingwater" built in 1938 for the owners of Pittsburgh's Kaufmann's Department Store.   It was such a spectacular home for its day it was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1938.  I've been, it's worth the trip! http://www.fallingwater.org/

(Michael Taylor; Southern California)
When I was a kid and dreaming of being a decorator one day.... this was one of the images that inspired me.  This room  was decorated over thirty years ago!!!   Can you imagine a room with staying power for 30+ years?  This is the perfect west coast space;  it's rugged, natural, modern, grand, cozy and inviting.


(Victoria Hagan, Nantucket)
This home's been shown soooo many times (on this blog too!) as the new standard for the quintessential beach house!   Simple textiles of stripes and plaids feel beachy and casual, painted walls and simple antiques....all give way to the spectacular water views!

(Tristan Auer, Cote d'Azur)
Swagtastic!!   Who says a seaside house needs to be done in blue and white with old fashioned overstuffed furniture?  The utilization of cement floors, painted ceilings and raw wood walls rocks, and the organic African pieces fit perfectly too.  It's comfortable, cozy and organic... very today!!

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!
This seaside home is the bomb!!!  Colorful, youthful, fun, sexy and open to the views of the river in front!  The painted patterned floor mixed with large solid colors and very few graphic patterns are the keys to this house's success.  Notice: Windows are curtain-less!  Please...who's gonna see you from the water?

(Occar de la Renta; Dominican Republic)
Oscar De la Renta's home in the DR is the most beautiful island home I know of (in the upper brackets). It has historical references, patina and tons of style, albeit a tad formal for most of us.
(Oscar De la Renta, Dominican Republic)
One of the many bedrooms in his D.R. home, which I think is so amazingly appropriate for the Islands.

(designer unknown)
This Florida seaside dining room is so pure; it's fresh and it speaks to the local vernacular with the tropical-themed hand-painted walls. Notice:  The budget was spent on the mural, not the furniture which was a wise move. These pieces, although well-designed are not expensive pieces (I think they're Baker "Milling Road" collection).

(Brooks & Falotico, Hobe Sound, Florida)
A bit matchy-poo for my taste, but it still works.  A happy and clean-lined room with a good seating arrangement.  Nothing here is precious; a Pottery Barn style sofa, knockoff Spitzmiller lamps and inexpensive tables.  The simple, natural window blinds are perfect too.

“I love to cook so I stay in my kitchen practically all day. If this happy place were mine, I'd be tempted to sleep there, too. I love retro but need modern colors and technology. The sky blue stove and refrigerator put the "fun" in functional.” —Julia Rutland, senior food editor
(Coastal Living, Outter Banks, NC)
It's all about the retro scene, baby!  Individual miss-matched cabinets cobbled together and painted white with a turquoise mosaic backsplash combined with those Vintage inspired Retro Appliances

Loblolly House, Kieran Timberlake Associates, Inhabitat Prefab Friday, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, component-based prefab, © Barry Halkin
(Kieran Timberlake, Taylors Island, MD)
This house gives me wood!  The stunning, environmentally friendly pre-fab house built among the pines is so enticing.  The exterior is artistic while providing camouflage to fit in among the woodlands.   The natural cedar resists the salt spray and never needs painting. KT [ Loblolly House ]

(Architect: Howard Backen;  Napa Valley, CA)
LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!  Tres naturale!  The organic melange of raw stucco, light woods and natural materials mixed with fun pieces like the Frank Gehry chairs in red make this house sleek and fun.  Lake houses don't need to be Adirondack style, they can be what YOU want them to be, just don't forget to focus on the water...

(Carter Kay, South Carolina)
The blue cabinets are a pleasant surprise - complimented by the wave-patterned cotton rug and backsplash glass tiles.  The wide open counters in soapstone offer lots of room for serving casually.

This cozylicious home has plain whitewashed 'planking' applied horizontally to the walls and the ceiling is painted celadon green to match the Roman shades.  Brown's, beige's, green's and touches of blue along with the accessories all create a great narrative.

(Gil Shafer; Ocean Grove, NJ)
How cool to use slate blue trim with light blue floors?!  The plain textiles are what makes it all even better; the 70's white painted rattan furniture covered in pastel seafoam blues and greens.  Cheap and Chic, go figure!

(Coastal Living, St. Barth's)
Job #1 is seeing the water as much as possible.  This hugantous kitchen with the island facing the water is perfect,  it's large enough to accommodate those evenings where you invite 8 friends and 20 frienimy's arrive...

(Joseph Paul Davis; Sarasota, FL)
In 1990 I decorated this beach house in Sarasota Florida for my own private winter hideaway.  Designed in the 1952 by Paul Rudolph, I tried to keep the original, modern integrity whilst bringing it up to date.  I think it still looks quite current. 

(Joseph Paul Davis; Chesapeake Bay)
 In 1988 I purchased this 18th c. house for weekends.  The house sits on a narrow peninsula and I didn't want the interior to detract from the priceless views so I used neutrals with English antiques to bridge the transition from 1786 to 1988.  Again, I think this house still looks great 23 years later!!!! (patting self on back)

(designer unknown; New Zealand)
Uh yeah,  that's HOT!  How refreshing to have something modern on the shore. No cedar shingles, boxwood gardens or chintz here... Less is definitely more....!

(el Decor, Connecticut)
The bedroom is for your swinger friends!  These plank-bottomed platforms suspended by the super-sized hemp ropes subtly suggests the beach thang without being corny!


Where's the freekin' rattan, beige wall-to-wall and poster art?  The mix of Jean-Michel Frank's 30's upholstery, 60's style terrazzo floors, a 1920's Mies chair and a contemporary Liagre coffee table work well.   The white, clean lines with black is always, always classic.

(Carter Kay; South Carolina)
Antiques in a seaside condo? No way!  Wayyyyyyy....
How wicked do these gently worn old pieces and soft lines look in this space? And the beadboard ceiling adds that extra 'thang' Suhweeeheeet, I know....

This, is My-yami?  YUP!   It's not that slick modern you'd expect... which is what makes it work!  It's transitional.  The sage-blue is easy on the eyes and the eclectic mix of a 60's sofa, Lucite table and two English club chairs...they all hum along together nicely.

Pottery Barn 101:  Does comfort get any simpler than this??  I love the old kitchen table with chopped off legs painted chippy white, it gives this super modern room some patina.

(Joseph Paul Davis; Rehoboth Beach, DE)
The two shots above are on the Atlantic Ocean. I matched the interior palette with the ocean colors, all greeny-blueish-grayish  tones.  I'm not big on too many patterned fabrics especially when there's a killer view, so I used fabrics with sensual, tactile qualities, e.g.: chenille's, cotton's, leather's, etc.  


(Harriett Maxwell; Shelter Island, NY)
These two spaces send my chic-o-meter spinning....I adore the soft pastel tones on pieces mixed with an ethnic carpet and the driftwood colored walls and floor....and this outdoor deck speaks for itself....

The summer of '42 speaks to us all...   
K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid!)

(East Hampton, NY)
This is one of my favorite houses EVERRRR (Oprah voice)
budget-wise cottage, done carefully.  The white background is the perfect canvas for the artisanal pieces, carefully selected for their color and visual weight.

(Schappacher-White;  Georgian Bay, Canada)
This design of this pimped-out lakeside cottage is shabby chic; sloppy slipcovers and painted floors.  It's smartly updated with the bold infusion of black and black only.  Let the outdoors or the occupants be the color, this room's not big enough for too much pattern or color.


This foyer table has a $20 assemblage crap but it works great!  
When making vignettes - use similar items, like they've done here; straw covered bottles and hats with the blues of the textile and watercolor are totally perfect together.

This small cottage has this great old, weathered sand-retention fence hung on the wall where the owners stick their favorite photos. Artful and Cheap....gotta love that!

(Southern Accents)
This English dresser with the collection of cream-ware is toned down with the old wine bottles on top. Otherwise it would be too formal looking.

(Harriett Maxwell; Shelter Island, NY)
Look closely at the pure simplicity of this...

Children play in the protected shade of a covered beach porch.
I'm a firm believer that exterior spaces should be decorated in two colors, or less. Look how impactful these two colors become alone.  When using more than two colors it gets confusing as you have all of the surroundings scenery, flowers, vegetation naturally a part of your scheme.


This is such a frigid feeling room; no coziness, nothing natural, no creativity and wayyyy too much seating.  Where'm I gonna sit in my damp swim-suit and what will I put my sandy feet on?

Really??  You're gonna dedicate an entire room to a useless set of torture-chamber chairs and a farshtunken metal table?
 Dial 911 Pretentious, now.

You can do it, I'm here to help!

February 23, 2014



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As the dateline on this blog is Palm Beach, I thought I should share an insiders view of this fabled enclave.  
It's always fun to hear people describe Palm Beach - the art, theater, music, food, shopping, beaches - and, of course, the ridiculously wealthy residents. Yes, there's a shit-load of money here; each street is identified by the Hedge-fund manager, aged movie star or exiled empress who lives on it.  
Then, you hear each sub-sect's impression of the town...  
"It's too WASP'y, it's too Jewish, it's too tatty, it's too flashy" and so on.

For Example
This is what the average American thinks of as Palm Beach
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This is what most young people think of as Palm Beach
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This is what really old people think of as Palm Beach
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This is what the WASP's think of as Palm Beach
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This is what the Jews think of as Palm Beach
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This is what the gays think of as Palm Beach
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This is what straight people think of as Palm Beach
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This is what the Latino's think of as Palm Beach
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This is what Europeans think of as Palm Beach
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This is what West Coast people think of as Palm Beach
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This is what dogs think of as Palm Beach
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This is what the nouveau riche think of as Palm Beach
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This is what the Mid-westerners think of Palm Beach
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This is how Down-and-out Duchesses think of Palm Beach
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This is what I think of as Palm Beach...
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Yes, there are definitely Palm Beach 'Team Colors!'
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Truly, Palm Beach is the ultimate melting pot of America.
With it's diversity, Palm Beach has some of the most extraordinary interiors you could ever imagine - which explains why the most brilliant stars in the interior design world have homes here, it's the perfect place for an aesthete to repair and be inspired!

For Example....
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(Source: Part-time resident and designer, Celery Kemble)
This courtyard is not unusual in Palm Beach, in fact it's typical.  Privacy, lushness and "tropical elegance" are the rule

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(Source: Seasonal resident and designer, Campion Platt)
So many people think there's no contemporary in Palm Beach, which is dead wrong...there's lots, but its good, quiet and architectural - not like Miami Beach - schizophrenic and flashy.

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(Source: Seasonal resident and designer, Kelly Klein)
Could you just freekin' die?  
I'm sure you assumed this was Laguna or Montauk, right? 
Nope, right here in Palm Beach!

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(Source: Seasonal resident and designer, Larry Laslo)
An early 20th century "Bermuda style" bungalow is twisted into a groovy, up-dated look - with no formality - just an easy, breezy feeling.

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(Source: Seasonal resident and designer, Michael Formica) 
One of the great interpreters of 20th century design renovated a mid-century condominium and made it feel 'period appropriate' whilst making it feel fresh - and super cool. 

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(Source: Resident and designer Jennifer Garrigues)
This is the former home of John Kluge, where I'd been a guest many times. The feeling was very low-key and yet quite elegant, like an "old-world" plantation.

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(Source: Seasonal Resident and designer, Tom Samet)
An eclectic melange of found objects and period antiques mixed with modest and precious textiles provides a sophisticated "life-well-lived" feeling.

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(Source: Seasonal resident and designer, Jonathan Adler)
New Jersey cul-de-sac meets Hollywood glam....and it works!
I think most of the mid-century modern furniture sold in major urban ateliers is from grandma's old Palm Beach place...

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(Source: Part-time resident and designer, James Michael Howard)
Palm Beach's glorious old Mediterranean architecture is often overshadowed by arrivistes hideous interpretations of Iberian Royalty, but not here; this inviting, low-key, comfortable room blends European style with tropical elegance into one smart look.

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(Source: Resident and designer, Joseph Paul Davis)
When I first moved to the area I had to have the "Palm Beach look."  Which for me was a melange of antiques from my Washington home, but lightened-up with pastel pink and white linen upholstery. The zebra and coral are common denominators in most PB interiors. 
I have since redecorated....
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(But that's another story)

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(Source: Seasonal resident and designer, Bruce Bierman)
Bierman deftly blended early 20th century furnishings with 19th century artworks - giving the feeling of a swanky London flat along the Thames instead of a Palm Beach penthouse overlooking the Atlantic.  

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(Source: Seasonal resident and designer, Geoffrey Bradfield)
Clearly, Art Deco and other extraordinary periods have usurped rattan and white-painted wicker in Palm Beach. 
In PB its either "fun" or it's "elegant."

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(Source: Seasonal resident and fashion designer, Lisa Perry)
How much fun is this???
It feels easy-breezy and yet the 'modern masters' art elevates it to the stratosphere!

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(Source: Part time resident and designer Aerin Lauder)
Her grandmother (Estee Lauder) had this grand home on the ocean for decades and now the new Lauder generation has redone it quite simply (with Thad Hayes help) to an old-Florida look with deco antique rattan and bright blue and white porcelains.
"Old Palm Beach" becomes the "New Palm Beach"

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(Source: Resident and designer Scott Snyder)
The local carriage trade loves Scott Snyder for his "Old Palm Beach" style.  Always right on the money with perfect traditional taste.

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(Source: Resident and designer Allison Paladino)
Cool color is often a keynote in most Florida interiors. 
Happily the British Colonial taste has usurped the over-used Mediterranean.  Palm trees, rattan and tropical accents make seasonal residents feel like their in their Palm Beach home, not the East Hampton one...

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(Source: Part time resident and designer Brooke Aitken)
With an over-abundance of sunny days providing super clear light,   pale, bleached interiors are very effective for implying restfulness and calm.

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(Source: Seasonal residents and designers, Aman-Carson)
The Pompeian Villa is a practical style for here, it's elegant, classical and timeless with the deep loggias and peristyles for getting out of the sun yet still being outdoors.

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(Source: Resident and designer, Lars Bolander)
European designs work quite well in Palm Beach as we have many international residents, and most Palm Beacher's are very  well-traveled too, so incorporating European designs and elements only seems de rigueur 


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(Source: David Kleinberg)
A typical loggia, but done quite well - with restraint. 
Notice the cypress ceiling, articulated arches and coral-stone floor - ubiquitous in PB, but always chic!

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(Source: Aman-Carson)
A typical Palm Beach "Regency" gets a contemporary makeover. 
The room is well-designed and kept simple to allow the art collection to take precedence. 

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(Source: Marshall Watson)
In this handsome room the antiques are blended seamlessly with a pale palette making the room feel 'smart' and updated.

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(Source: Robin Weiss)
This bright interior would look a bit garish in Greenwich or Kansas City, but here in Palm Beach, it's spot on.

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(Source: Unknown)
I love this simple, yet stylish loggia. The Indian folding screen on the wall implies an exotic feel whilst the trees and green upholstery blur the lines between the garden and loggia. The tan tones recede and simplify the ensemble.

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(Source: Thomas Britt)
In this ocean side condominium Thomas Britt has carefully mixed various periods and styles of furniture with a 'happy' palette; the result is a light, restful and elegant room. 
Definitely not Bubbie's old condo...

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(Source: Mario Buatta)
Buatta's layered look is popular with Septuagenarians. It's dependable, pretty and livable. His use of floral chintz's with pops of color works especially well in the tropics.

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(Source: Estee Lauder's family home by Thad Hayes)
Estee's old traditional dining room got toned down, pared back and enjoys a hot new palette - gray and white!  Not your typical PB colors, but as you can see - it's chic as shit!

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(Source: Mario Buatta)
Another pastel mash-up demonstrates Buatta's mastery of color for the tropics. Seaside nuances, florals and lots of details are what PB is about.

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(Source: James Michael Howard)
A successful mix of high-tone English Regency antiques in a semi-formal room, but notice the tone is successfully brought down with slipcovers, cotton carpets and sepia-toned tropical wall murals. 

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(Source: Unknown)
PB residents usually have a good design budget, so there's a lot of custom painting, murals and faux-finishes - not usually the garish kind, but handsome appropriate ones. The bad faux marble and leopard-lounge crap is left to the arrivistes and their McMansions.

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(Source: Nancy Morton)
If you're a 3rd-gen Palm Beacher, this is probably your look!
An old, super-comfy mixture of antiques, and not-so-antique pieces. 
A room unaffected by trends is always a successful room! 

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(Source: Meg Braff)
This may look like granny's pergola - but you know you want it!

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(Source: David Kleinberg)
The new PB look is about clean and transitional, blending traditional with contemporary - the old-timers resist, but it's here and it's awesome!

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(Source: House Beautiful)
This is the 'formulaic' condo scheme for PB rental apartments. 
Monochromatic, shell prints, bourgeois blue, cheap tables, etc., etc. Pretty, but lacking in personality or originality. 

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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)
I recently 'flipped' this 1928 Spanish Revival house. After removing all of the phony Mediterranean style "improvements" I articulated the mouldings in 'espresso' to match the dark floors; the white walls kept the house bright. The furnishings were modern with some ethnic pieces to create interest. 
Proof that "less is more"

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(Source: 3rd Strand)
Indoor-outdoor living is a part of Florida life. Palm Beach has the best weather in ALL of Florida, we're almost always in the upper 70's in the winter. Many houses didn't have heating at all until they introduced central air in the 70's.

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(Source: Miles Redd)
Fantasy is also a part of Palm Beach, leave all your troubles and stress with your snow-suit up north and surrender to a blissful "dream state-of-mind." 
Imagine - lunch in a tented room, swimming in a Moroccan garden, throwing down a few mojitos in an Japanese tea house, getting laid on a mega-yacht...it's all possible here....

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(Source: John Stefanidis)
The lost city of Atlantis has nothing on Palm Beach! 
We must have more coral and shells in our homes than the entire Ionian Sea!

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(Source: John Stefanidis)
One of my favorite rooms, it absolutely typifies Palm Beach design!
Natural light, soft colors, natural textures, airiness, strong materials and an indoor-outdoor feeling. 
A casually elegant lifestyle!

You Can Do It, I'm Here To Help!