Designing An Artistic Beach Retreat In Delray Beach
Photography by Randy Tanner from
Living Proof Real Estate Photography
Creating space for art can be a delicate balancing act. Too much focus, you feel as if you’re living in a gallery; too little, and those cherished pieces fail to shine. One English couple, avid collectors and world travelers, seem to have struck the perfect equilibrium at their oceanfront residence a few paces from Delray Beach’s bustling Atlantic Avenue.
After keeping a vacation home in South Florida for many years, the couple were ready to make a fresh start with a new property. They turned to a Boca Raton-based architect they had collaborated with in the past: John Conway of John D. Conway Architect Inc. Interior designer Susan Connor of P&H Interiors was hired to create all the architectural details and interior enhancements for the 4,640-square-foot space, and Scott Dingle and Steve Dingle of SRD Building Corp. were tasked with turning the three-story dream home into a dazzling fixture along Ocean Boulevard’s mansion-strewn corridor.
The couple preferred a traditional white edifice with large, deep blue exterior shutters that bridged the cerulean scenery and natural wildlife on display from the upstairs balcony and outdoor patio. Inside, they wanted clean and contemporary interiors to reflect beach living, with plenty of textured flourishes and wood accents.
Weaving in the seismic collection of Inuit soapstone art the couple had amassed over the years was one of the few challenges Connor faced. “It seemed like an oxymoron, integrating Eskimo art into a beach house,” she laughs. “We had to be creative in how we introduced those elements.” The Coral Springs-based designer had a shelving display positioned on the reverse side of the downstairs fireplace and built-ins installed in the library. Tabletops turned the remaining sculptures into clever conversation starters.
Next, she and her team set about creating a series of living spaces that tied in the eye-arresting seascapes and invited relaxed revelry. Walls were covered with LusterStone, a low luster metallic plaster, to reflect the sunlight and the dark, engineered wood flooring, which runs throughout the main level and upstairs, emanating the illusion of warmth. Dramatic tray ceilings offer an additional design outlet that rivals the elements below.
In the dining room, a gold-bronze LED pendant chandelier doubles as a suspended work of art above a linear table designed from rich mahogany and cathedral cherry veneers. Arm and side chairs by Adriana Hoyos wrap around it.
Wooden elements extend past a pair of structural columns into the sun-dappled salon where linen-colored sofas and hand-shaped, rattan side chairs with geometric cutouts frame a cubed gray elm cocktail table Connor topped with lush florals and indigenous art. A double-sided travertine fireplace edged with hand-cut vertical wood slabs from JTS Woodworking Inc. raises the wow factor.
A hallway behind the fireplace leads to the library and home office with vibrant works that pay homage to Albert Einstein. A framed photo collage of the scientist, comprised of more than 4,000 photographs by Michael Verlangieri, graces the wall behind a floating desk finished in metallic antique pewter from Old Biscayne Designs.
Across from the salon, mini pendant lights cast a platinum glow on a polished quartzite wet bar perfect for an impromptu cocktail soirée. Antique brass-framed leather chairs make a chic perch for swirling and savoring one of the collectible vintages stored inside the glass, temperature-controlled wine room. A hexagonal backsplash fashioned from glamour glass offers an easy lesson in geometry.
Around the corner in the breakfast area, a walnut-topped table with upholstered side chairs in printed vinyl mimicking the appearance of pony hair plays host to casual feasts beneath a 14-light, single-tier drum chandelier by Metropolitan.
The kitchen area offers a jaw-dropping mixture of juxtaposed elements. Clean-lined custom cabinetry in stark white mixes with dual wood-paneled islands with waterfall countertops in Caesarstone. Antique brass-finished pendants with frosted glass shades from Currey & Company, hanging above the center island, recall late-summer sunsets.
In the family room, low-profile furnishings like Hickory White’s Samantha cocktail table are streamlined so they don’t distract from the tranquil vistas of the patio, pool and ocean beyond. A charcoal leather sectional from Design NS with Ultracel foam cushions and lumbar pillows striped in red, blue and orange bring casual elegance and a hint of masculinity. With its bold, contrasting paint reveals, the geometric ceiling design grants a graphic alternative to more traditional style options.
The room flows easily toward an expansive, furnished and covered patio outside the sliding glass doors. A U-shaped bar is adorned with glass mosaic tiles that match the ones above the pool’s waterline, and seaboard cabinetry was selected to withstand prickly temperatures and sea salt air. An aluminum table with cushioned chairs from Sunbrella is ideal for alfresco dining.
Art and photography oxygenate nearly every inch of the property. In the guest bedrooms upstairs, African elephants and sub-Saharan wildlife roar to life against bright, aqua-saturated backdrops. In the master bedroom, a spotted giraffe snapped during a safari trip gazes with humanlike interest. Connor applied a neutral palette of cooler tones like platinum and beige to the couple’s sleeping quarters. A gray-blue area rug from Fabrica, turquoise-trimmed bedding and a tufted bench from Century Furniture shape the sedate sanctuary.
The master bath takes full advantage of its sparkly, ocean-facing views. Matching his-and-hers vanities face off in front of a sunken bathtub that debunks the idea that bathing has to be boring. The star of the room is the glass-enclosed shower for two with a double-rainhead, handheld shower and an Opalina Krystal glass tile seat. French doors lead to an outdoors balcony enclosed with custom white railings from Zeron’s Metal Designers in Hialeah that echo the front gate’s metalwork.
One of the home’s most spectacular art displays adorns the soaring wall that connects the floating wood and glass-paneled stairwell from the basement to the second floor. “We worked with Atelier MEL [a bespoke glassmaking company based in Spain] to create this abstract, custom installation,” Connor says. “It’s the first one in the United States. It’s composed from 256 individual glass pieces in colors like Champagne and neon blue and backlit with LED lights. It’s very striking and so elemental of the house.”
If the first and second floors are the home’s heart and head, then the basement is its soul. The subterranean level accommodates a home theater, a game room and a spa. There’s also plenty of exhibit space for the couple’s Beatles memorabilia, signed electric guitars and autographed posters from cult film classics like “Scarface” and “The Shining.” Although the basement is actually street level, Scott and Steve Dingle used steel reinforced, poured concrete walls to safeguard the home from any natural disasters, like flooding.
Designed with sleek, comfortable furnishings, including a candy counter, the home theater satisfies even the most persnickety film snob. Oversized leather seats with lumbar gracefully recline beneath a celestial sky that twinkles with tiny fiber optic lights, a technological marvel engineered by Boca’s Acoustic Innovations.
A luxurious bar with turquoise leather bar stools trimmed in nailheads cater to the owners’ love of entertaining. Crafted from pure white Caesarstone, and concrete stamped and stained to resemble natural wood, it’s a fitting spot to commiserate before movie night begins.
The remaining space has been transformed into a club-like setting, featuring a theater-style sitting area with retro touches like wall-to-wall, vinyl banquettes in deep navy, swivel lounge chairs in a geometric pattern and pub tables. A white baby grand piano lends a musical touch, and a game area with a custom chess table, a Harley-Davidson pinball machine and a vintage jukebox were also added.
At the opposite end, a Zen retreat with a life-sized, golden Buddha awaits. A sauna and a steam shower with ergonomic seating, a rain shower, a handheld showerhead and body sprays are the ultimate home spa indulgence. A state-of-the-art sound system delivers musical lullabies. In the connecting half-bath, a vanity with an integrated stone sink and mosaic backsplash floats beneath aged brass-finished pendants from Hudson Valley Lighting.
Pulling together a cozy, coastal refuge with sentiment-filled interiors that easily flow from one to the next was the team’s main objective, but they went a step further by making them into automated spaces the couple could control or monitor from their home in England. Simply by touching an iPhone screen, lights can be lowered, draperies whisked open and music turned on. “That’s the wonderful thing about a smart home,” Connor says. “No matter where you are, you have convenience at your fingertips.”