From Formal To Family

A memorable commission and daring clients come together to convert an estate into a home.

Story Credits

Interior Design
Allison Paladino, Allison Paladino Interior Design, Jupiter, FL
Carlos Domenech, Key Biscayne, FL
Harold Smith, Smith & Moore Architects, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL
Renovations Contractor
Dale R. Hedrick, Hedrick Brothers Construction Co., Inc., West Palm Beach, FL
Landscape Architecture
Mario Nievera and Keith Williams, Nievera Williams Design, Palm Beach, FL
Text by
Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley
(View full image and details by clicking on picture)
Imagine being asked to design the interior of a 20,000-square-foot mansion set on four acres of very private Palm Beach oceanfront. Then imagine having to turn that very formal Bermuda Georgian estate into a cozy winter home that accommodates three children. The thought did not faze interior designer Allison Paladino. “Every designer wants a project like this,” she says. “And the client was a dream to work with — very decisive and open-minded.”

In order to work miracles, Paladino teamed with architect Harold Smith. The original owners had designed the house to fit their lifestyle that included a full staff. When Smith arrived he found that the kitchen was completely hidden. “It was more of a staff kitchen with no relation to the main living areas and outdoor spaces,” he says. So he combined the kitchen, the staff dining room and a butler’s pantry to form an open family kitchen and breakfast area. Just outside, he added a pool loggia, converted a guest bath into a cabana bath and opened up the landscape. “In that way it became a home meant for family fun,” Smith says.

Step inside, where a gallery runs the length of the house as the main living areas spill off left and right. To break it up and make it feel cozier, Paladino made use of custom reproductions of Oushak Carpets on the sandstone flooring. There are two of them each measuring 25 feet. “That gives you an idea of how long this area is,” Paladino says. “And there’s plenty more familial space involved.”

The oversized living room was a tough space to design. “It was huge but the clients wanted warm and cozy,” the designer says. “They also wanted to make guests feel comfortable.” To achieve this Paladino created two seating areas and used larger scale furnishings to accommodate sizeable gatherings in the space. Here, Moorish accents such as the fireside cloisonné urns add a splash of blue, while a pair of Burmese camel tables conveys a touch of whimsy.

Across the hallway, French doors open to reveal spectacular ocean vistas off the dining room. Cream wainscoting pops against the glazed cranberry-red walls to give the room a nice fresh feel. A 120-inch-long altar table set against a wall is “the most outrageous one I’ve bought in my life,” says Paladino, who deems its bamboo “spectacular” and the fretwork “magnificent.” And she can’t rave enough about its bleached mahogany top. “It feels like butter,” she says. In the center of the room, a crotch mahogany dining table from Barry Cotton Antiques is an English Regency reproduction surrounded by stately yet comfortable chairs tufted in pale yellow.

Further down the gallery, a foyer steps down into an ocean panorama that draws the eye around the space fashioned with ribbed cranberry-and-ecru velvet Regency benches and a custom-made Regency-style sideboard with mahogany inlays.

Picturesque views flow through to the sunroom, where a white-piped, green upholstered sofa with chairs clad in a fern motif make the room feel “crisp and garden-like.” Beyond, a warm and welcoming loggia provides the perfect spot for this family to gather and watch the sun rise and set over the ocean.