Many large families would gawk at the thought of downsizing, but that's the decision a family from Greenwich, Connecticut, made when they purchased a property in Palm Beach. With the help of award-winning design firm Pembrooke & Ives, the family of five set out to craft a Palm Beach home for two purposes: to showcase their growing contemporary art collection and take full advantage of , the exclusive golf community where the property is located.
Pembrooke & Ives Design Director Francis Nicdao knew that the couple's transition from their main residence—a 19,000-square-foot property in Connecticut—to a 7,500-square-foot vacation home would require some creativity. And to compound the challenge, it's one of the first modern homes in Lost Tree Village, which meant the exterior had to reflect the community's design and architecture guidelines. "The site had a lot of limitations," Nicdao says. "But we assured them that we were really going to focus on the interior. They wanted it to be very family-friendly and casual. The approach was to create something clean and neutral to showcase their art, but not in a pretentious way."
Even though the couple and their three children tend to eat outdoors, the kitchen, which boasts gray cabinetry and millwork, still serves as the hub of the home. It's where they gather throughout the day, prepare meals, and entertain guests. This level of activity called for two islands, especially since the property isn't equipped with a formal dining room. “When company is over, the secondary island directly behind the main one seats an additional eight guests," Nicdao says. "Otherwise, it’s a popular work spot on the periphery of the kitchen, but still close to the action."
As to be expected, there was also a major design dilemma to solve in the kitchen. "Because it's a bit set into the house, we had to get creative with natural light sources," Nicdao says. "A skylight and two transoms flanking the hood bring in light and a splash of color from the outdoors."
In addition to maximizing natural light, Pembrooke & Ives relied on a mix of textures to bring the neutral space to life. In one of the two guest rooms, a suede-upholstered wall serves as a headboard and is flanked by sculptural pendants. “This neutral palette ties in with the rest of the house and puts the focus on the artwork. It hangs opposite a large picture frame window, and the pop of color from the art is one of the first things you see when you approach the residence," Nicdao says.
Nicdao also considered the couple's three children and their friends when designing the home, and the second floor landing is just one example of his thoughtful approach. “We transformed the second floor landing into a smaller living area, where the children and younger guests could gather," he says. "The geometry and bold pops of color add a playful element to the space, without overpowering the art nearby."
In the hallway, Nicdao incorporated a smart storage solution—proof that "every space serves a function." The rather wide hallway features sleek wall-mounted dressers. "We opted for a white lacquer finish to help it blend in with the surroundings, rather than become a focal point," he says.
The beauty of the Palm Beach home really shines in the outdoor area, where the family spends a great deal of time entertaining. "We created several intimate spots for people to gather, whether they’re sharing a meal, enjoying the firepit, or lounging at the dock," Nicdao says. "We continued the teak detailing from the front of the home to the back, accentuating the ceilings with the same material for added warmth.”
While the property is much smaller than what the family is used to, it features all they could ever want in a vacation home. "It challenged us, as their design partner, to make sure every square foot was utilized and embraced this spirit of family time and gathering," Nicdao says.