Art Takes Center Stage in Palm Beach Regency Estate

A gregarious husband and wife with a world-class art collection enlist two seasoned design professionals to recast their estate as a home for lavish entertaining

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Certain homeowners approach a design renovation as something unpleasant to suffer through with only the end result in mind. Others, like the longtime clients of New York-based architect Enda Donagher and interior designer Elizabeth Martell, revel in and respect every step of the creative process, and see it as a chance for reinvention with their keen input as part of the endeavor. 

Donagher, whose commercial projects include boutiques for Giorgio Armani and Van Cleef & Arpels, met the couple, noted art collectors, through his luxury retail circles. “Renovation is a hobby of the husband,” he says. “Since [this project], we’ve designed a number of other homes for them, as well as for extended family. It’s a privilege to work with clients who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Plus, the caliber of their art collection [only bolstered] our creativity.”

Martell, who has collaborated with Donagher for 20 years, was just as delighted to discover the clients were so attuned to the process. “This enables the interior design to happen because they are so open to all ideas,” she says. “We’d go shopping, and the husband would see an unusual chair and say, ‘I love this! Can it go in the living room?’ And we’d make it work.”

The gut renovation of the 7,800-square-foot Regency style estate in Palm Beach (with five bedrooms and eight baths) took about a year to complete. This included an extensive rethinking of the landscaping to keep it in tune with the newly refined look of the house. Originally erected in the ’80s by well-known builder Robert W. Gottfried, the house boasted the relaxed interpretation of Palm Beach Regency Gottfried was known for, but because the current owners (who are heavily involved in philanthropy) wanted more formal, much larger spaces for entertaining than the former architecture provided, many walls had to come down, and just as many new ones came up. “There were underperforming, ill-defined spaces that needed to be pushed to the next level,” says Donagher, who did just that with inspired details such as stacking two crown moldings for a more dramatic cornice effect with concealed lighting, which balances the bold large-scale art canvases. As a result of these additions, “I immediately saw what the entry hall and the living room could be.”

Carefully considered—or “strategized” as the architect and designer might put it—was the color palette, a nuanced play on soft whites executed in sumptuous finishes and materials. To accomplish this, most of the furniture and all rugs were custom designed by Donagher and Martell. “We looked to create something memorable, like the white French marble floors cut in oversize chevrons, some of which are eight feet long,” says Martell. “They flow from the entry hall through the living room and beyond.” 

One of the main intents of the interior design was to provide a showcase for the homeowner’s stellar collection of art, a grouping that includes Botero, Picasso, and Lichtenstein, and which rotates among the clients’ various houses. “With names like that, we couldn’t just paint,” says Donagher with a laugh about the luminous wall finish they developed. “The walls in the entry and living room are Venetian plaster, but we pushed the artisan to not do the typical high-polish, but to try something new, and it resulted in a waxy buttery finish like nothing we’ve ever seen.” When it came to incorporating the many custom furnishings, Martell says the challenge was to keep the main, larger pieces as elegant and quiet as possible. “Accessories, rugs, and accent pieces, new and from their other homes, fill in around that simplicity and balance,” she adds, “so as not to compete with the art.”

All the carefully weighed decisions paid off handsomely in the end. “To have the opportunity to take a curated collection of furniture and art, and give it a new home is a tremendous experience,” says Donagher. “We were able to realize our clients’ dream interior because they have an intimate relationship with each item [in that home], and that creates [harmony.]”

Story Credits:

Interior Design by Elizabeth Martell, Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY

Interior Architecture by Enda Donagher, Enda Donagher Architect, P.C., New York, NY

Exterior Architecture by Michael Perry, MP Design and Architecture, Inc., Palm Beach, FL

Builder Tim Givens Building & Remodeling, West Palm Beach, FL

Landscape Architecture by Mario Nievera, Nievera-Williams, Palm Beach, FL

Text by Daisy Olivera

Photography by Mark Roskams, New York, NY

Open to see Interior Design Sources:

Sources

Entry

Console – Angelo Mangiarotti, Italian c. 1970, Bernd Goeckler Antiques, Inc. New York, NY

Sconces – Roberto Rida, Italian, Bernd Goeckler Antiques, Inc. New York, NY

Artwork – Louise Fishman, MONONGAHELA, Cheim & Read, New York. 

Settee designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and fabricated by J&P Upholstery, Long Island City, NY

Custom embroidered, beaded and embellished by Lalit and Moon Ghera of Mystic Beading Bombay, India

Round mirror – Achille Salvagni, Italy, Maison Gerard New York, NY

Living Area

Sofa and lounge designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and fabricated by J&P Upholstery, Long Island City, NY 

Velvet armchairs – Italian c. 1950, Bernd Goeckler Antiques, Inc., New York, NY

Cocktail table designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and fabricated by MHG Studios, New York, NY

Fireplace designed and fabricated by Chesney’s USA, New York, NY

Love seat designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and fabricated by J&P Upholstery, Long Island City, NY

Armchair – Owner’s collection

Accent chair – Italian c. 1960, John Salibello, New York, NY

Floor lamps – Christian Liaigre, New York, NY

Abstract expressionist paintings and prints – Owner’s collection

Dining Area

Table – Daniel Scudieri, New York, NY

Chairs – J&P Upholstery, Long Island City, NY

Fabric – Old World Weavers, scalamandre.com 

Chandelier – Contemporary Italian, John Salibello, New York, NY

Buffet – Jean Leleu, France c. 1960, Maison Gerard, New York, NY

Doors designed by Enda Donagher Architect, P.C., New York, NY

Artwork (woman) – Owner’s collection, Chantal Joffe, Blonde Looking Over Her Shoulder, Cheim & Read, New York, NY

Area rug designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and manufactured by Tai Ping, New York, NY

Kitchen

Cabinetry designed and fabricated by Eggersmann USA, eggermannusa.com 

Island stools – Dennis Miller, New York, NY

Family Room

Sofa designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and fabricated by J&P Upholstery, Long Island City, NY

Crème color accent chairs – Franco Albini, Italian c. 1959, John Salibello New York, NY

Cocktail table – Wendell Castle, Dennis Miller, New York, NY

Drink tables – Karl Springer, American c. 1960, John Salibello, New York, NY

Side table designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and Enda Donagher Architect, P.C., New York, NY, and fabricated by Yepes Fine Furniture, Brooklyn, NY

Area rug designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and manufactured by Tai Ping, New York, NY

Primary Sitting Room

Round cocktail table – Batistin Spade, France c. 1940, Maison Gerard New York, NY

Armchairs – Owner’s collection

Drink table designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and Enda Donagher Architect, P.C., New York, NY, and fabricated by Atelier Viollet

Drapery fabric – Holland & Sherry, hollandandsherry.com

Area rug designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., and manufactured by Tai Ping, New York, NY

Primary Bath

Stool – J&P Upholstery, Long Island City, NY

Side table – Holly Hunt, New York, NY

Lalique chandelier – Owner’s collection

Flooring – Studium, New York, NY

Back Exterior

Sofa and club chairs – Janus et Cie, janusetcie.com

Pillows – Associated Designer Service, West Palm Beach, FL

Cocktail table designed by Elizabeth Martell, Inc., New York, NY, and Enda Donagher Architect, P.C., New York, NY, and manufactured by Tim Givens Building and Remodeling, West Palm Beach, FL

Pool seating and umbrella – Walters Wicker, walterswicker.com

Throughout

Artwork and sculpture – Owner’s collection

Millwork – Porath Fine Cabinetry, West Palm Beach, FL

Plaster moldings – Hyde Park Mouldings, Hauppauge, NY

Interior doors – Hamlin Woodworks, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL

Door hardware – Baldwin, baldwin.com

Custom metalwork – Atlantic Fine Architectural Hardware, Northborough, MA

Custom embroidery and beading, custom textiles throughout – Lalit & Moon Ghera, Mystic Beading, New York, NY 

Window treatments – Karen Gilman, Finelines, finelines.com

Soft upholstery and pillow fabrication – Associated Designer Service, West Palm Beach, FL

Hand-painted wallpaper and fabric – Alpha Workshops, New York, NY

Lighting design – Bouyea & Associates Inc., Washington Depot, CT

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