A peek at fantastical Palm Beach mansions
through the pages of 'Palm Beach Chic'
In her latest book, author Jennifer Ash Rudick goes inside ravishing homes built at the intersection of great wealth and unfettered imagination:
Who wouldn’t want to start the day in the morning room of Broadway producer Terry Allen Kramer’s Palm Beach house? Kramer and her late husband, Irwin, wanted a home with historical charm and modern convenience, so when they relocated to Palm Beach from The Bahamas, they decided to build a house that married both. In 1995, on a high oceanfront lot south of Southern Blvd, they commissioned architect Jeff Smith to build La Follia, the first grand mansion built in Palm Beach since the Jazz Age years. Quirky treillage rooms like this were popular in France and England in the 17th through 19th centuries.
The deconsecrated 1894 Bethesda-by-the-Sea church, a Palm Beach Lake Trail fixture, was part of interior designer Mimi McMakin’s family compound growing up. The former wood-ceilinged nave is where she and her family have stored family treasures and eccentric oddities through decades. In a room so exuberantly decorated with Balinese umbrellas, old family furniture, Venetian gondola poles and a stuffed zebra, it’s not so much a question of what’s in there as what’s not?
A pool at Kathy and Billy Rayner’s Palm Beach house is a study in tropical seclusion, presided over by Annie, the family’s Labrador.
The house was a nondescript Florida ranch until the Rayner’s hired architect Peter Marino to transform the property into their personal fantasy world.
An airy cabana across the pool from their main house allows interior designer Lars Bolander and his wife, artist Nadine Kalachnikoff, to live outside during much of the dry season. They designed their home in West Palm Beach’s south end so they could live in relaxed Mediterranean style while taking advantage of the mild winter weather.
Liza Pulitzer Calhoun learned her fearless, colorful style from her mother, the irrepressible Lilly Pulitzer. Typical of year-round residents, Calhoun’s house is relaxed, geared toward barefeet and casual entertaining.
This outdoor living room, used in all but the coldest and hottest days, accommodates a crowd while bridging the gap between the two renovated wooden cottages on the property.
Not all Palm Beach homes are gargantuan mansions. Major Alley, in the center of town off Peruvian Ave., is a compound of six small Caribbean Colonial cottages built in the 1920s by architect Howard Major.
Bougainvillea drapes the Dutch Colonial façade of one, framing an entry covered in Rose Cummings’ banana leaf wallpaper.
Kathy and Billy Rayner's 'Turkish pavilion' guest house was inspired by Istanbul's Topkapi Palace, and decorated by architect Peter Marino in swirl of color and exotic patterns, with carved garden doors worthy of Ottoman palace.
Encrust the fireplace with shells and top it with an 18th century portrait?
This Major Alley living room, with walls glazed in a cheerful melon color, comes together in the hands of interior designer Mimi Kemble McMakin and owner Jean Pearman.
When art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody went looking for a family home to house her large modern art collection, she ended up in West Palm Beach, where she discovered an Intracoastal estate near the Northwood historic district. Her 1950’s house was designed by Howard Chilton, known as “Florida’s master of the S curve.”
Inside, her witty collection includes Liz Craft’s pair of eyes which oversee the living room above an ink drawing by Debra Hampton.
Fashion designer Lisa Perry’s oceanfront “surf shack” on Palm Beach’s Billionaires’ Row echoes the modern lines and pop art colors of her clothing line.
In the den, a turquoise and white palette reflects the shades of sea, sky and waves outside this long and linear 1980’s house.