Casita De La Playa

A Historic Addison Mizner Home Is Decorated With New And Antique Furnishings To Complement Its 1926 Spanish Colonial Architecture

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When a legendary architect set ground to build a charming beachfront home in South Florida, he outfitted it with a barrel tile roof, smooth stucco exterior and meticulously manicured grounds that extend to the beach. Casita de la Playa, was built in 1926 by renowned architect Addison Mizner (1872-1933). His Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival style left an indelible stamp on South Florida, in particular Palm Beach and Boca Raton, and continues to inspire architects today.

Laura Parsons, an interior decorator well familiar with Mizner’s work, was given the opportunity to furnish the 7,400-square-foot home and was more than excited by the opportunity to restore it to its original charm. Over the decades, Casita de la Playa has had numerous owners, some of whom made modifications that were not in keeping with the original style of the home. To help lend a hand with the new design, Parsons called on Jett Thompson of Jett Thompson Antiques and Interiors and Lorene Halverson of Antique Connector. Together, they created a mix of old and new furnishings that feature a light and uncomplicated palette. “Casita de la Playa is modest in scale and detail compared to the majority of Mizner’s projects,” Parsons says. As a result, the designer felt that the interiors should be spare and low-key and create a practical beach house feel. The interiors called for mostly antiques, a subject Parsons knows well due to weekends spent antiquing with her mother while growing up in New England.

The designer felt it was important to find, if possible, authentic Mizner lighting and furnishings for the home. With the help of Halverson, they were able to track down a number of pieces, such as hand-carved side chairs, iron lanterns for both interior and exterior areas, as well as a pair of andirons for the fireplace in the great room.

From the start, Parsons design approach was to stay true to Mizner’s vision, albeit lighter in feel and function for today’s living. This look was achieved by mixing furnishings from various time periods, as if the home’s original interiors evolved over the last 88 years. Original casement windows, balconies and charming porches set the tone for modern features to be replaced with appropriate antique substitutes.

The front entry opens to a sun-filled foyer with its original terra cotta flooring intact. Overhead, a 1920s wrought iron lantern illuminates the space and enhances natural lighting. Continuing inside, the 30-foot-wide great room features original oak wood flooring and matching sofas designed by Charles Stewart to create two seating areas within one room. A vintage Lucite cocktail table in one half of the space provides an unexpected complement to an antique French empire chest. In the second half of the room, a pair of Bobbin chairs cluster around the original large plaster fireplace, where a mantle above displays antique fragments with shells and sea fans. Underfoot, sisal area rugs ground the two seating areas.

The quaint breakfast vignette features a bench from Baker Furniture and a pair of 1960s wicker side chairs found at a Paris flea market that pull up to an antique outdoor garden table. Over in the casual dining area, host chairs covered in Belgium linen soften the look of the zinc-topped dining table, while a Moroccan lantern above, lends a bohemian vibe.

Outside on the serene loggia lined with French doors, Gloster’s teak dining table and rattan chairs provide the perfect spot for alfresco entertaining while enjoying a view of the shimmering pool.

Once the design was complete, it was clear that Parsons had succeeded in capturing the authenticity of Mizner’s architecture with age related antiques and compatible new furnishings. “In this case, architectural renovations should be kept true to the original style of the home,” the designer says. In keeping with that belief, Parsons design was faithful to the spirit of Casita de la Playa. If Addison Mizner were alive today, he would undoubtedly agree.