December 6, 2018
Here’s Why Palm Beach Has Become a Destination for Young Interior Designers
While droves of design enthusiasts have flocked to sunny Miami this week for Design Miami and Art Basel, a hidden design gem lies just one hour north on A1A highway. Palm Beach, Florida, a tiny island long heralded as a bastion of both the luxurious and the sophisticated, has become a recent hot spot for young interior designers.
With the Kips Bay Designer Show House opening up a satellite operation in town this January, and countless new stores popping up on every Via off of Worth Avenue, the land of Addison Mizner architecture, Kennedy mythology, and Pulitzer pink is getting an updated look with chic housewares, not-to-miss vintage, and a bevy of buzzy restaurants.
Below, a guide to hitting the best in up-and-coming art and design while paying homage to the town’s rich and unique history.
Where to Stay
The Breakers is an iconic and historic resort located smack on the ocean in the middle of town, walking distance from both famed shopping on Worth Avenue and the recently revitalized Royal Poinciana Plaza. Dripping with quintessential Palm Beach charm, the rooms are outfitted with bamboo beds and bountiful botanical prints. Incredibly family friendly, the resort offers beach service, tennis, golf, a kid’s club, and more. But the real reason design aficionados will flock come winter is its history: after fires ravaged the original property in both 1903 and 1925, Breakers founder Henry M. Flagler (of Standard Oil fame) reopened the property in 1926 with help from New York architects Schultze and Weaver—the same creative minds who brought to life iconic hotels such as the Pierre, Sherry-Netherland and Park Avenue’s Waldorf Astoria. Recently renovated, the hotel maintains much of its original integrity (the ceilings in the lobby entrance are not to be missed; nor are the legendary Christmas decorations) but with an updated twist: HMF, a recent addition, is the place to be seen for drinks before (or after) dinner.
The Colony, another beloved locale, was also recently revamped: Vogue alum, author, and artist Kate Schelter helped the historic hotel freshen up with a beautiful new logo and a charming rendering of Palm Beach’s favorite mascot—Johnnie Brown, architect Addison Mizner’s famous pet monkey from the 1920s. (He’s actually buried in the courtyard outside of local favorite pizzeria, Pizza Al Fresco; Mizner’s apartment overlooked the restaurant.) For over seventy years, The Colony has welcomed U.S. presidents, European royalty, and winter season snowbirds. With banana leaf print and vintage pink and green murano chandeliers galore, a five-year, $18 million top-to-bottom renovation energized its 90 guest rooms, suites, villas, and penthouses, reiterating “Palm Beach chic” with a modern lens.
Where to Shop in Palm Beach
The best part about Palm Beach shopping is its vintage stores. The Church Mouse, located just north of Worth Avenue, is 4,500 square feet of heaven. From vintage Hermes bags and Chanel blazers to one of a kind china, quirky lamps, and everything in between, this “thrift store” (if it can even be called that) is certainly one of the top resale stores in the country. Peruse the pieces, then walk into town for some ice cream and meander over to the beach across the street to savor your treat—the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
On South Dixie Highway just over the bridge in West Palm Beach, you’ll find Antique Row: two city blocks worth of antique furniture stores with roots that date back to the 1960s. Ranging in style from rattan and wicker island finds to opulent Louis XIV, there is something for everyone in this treasure trove; it’s particularly perfect for anyone who appreciates a bit of patina. Pop into James & Jeffrey for beautifully crafted pieces from the 18th and 19th century, Faustina Pace Antiques & Interiors for well-curated mid-century and French and Swedish country-style items (think: worn antique clay decanters) and Authentic Provence for just that—they tout the store as “the leading source of fine European garden antiques, reclaimed building materials, and period furniture.” (They do not disappoint.) On the theme of Provence, head into Blue Provence once back on the island; a favorite place for sandwiches on hearty baguette, and delicious éclairs.
For beautiful hostess gifts, interior designer Amanda Lindroth’s easy breezy island store on South County Road has all the essentials with none of the fuss. And what began as a small D. Porthault linen boutique in 1985 emerged into one of the preeminent tabletop retailers today: Mary Mahoney—an institution on Worth Avenue in existence for three decades—is a must-do for anyone who covets exotic dinnerware or sparkling flatware (brides, take note of their exceptional registry offerings). Il Papiro, the famed Florentine stationer, has its last remaining U.S. outpost on Worth Avenue: head here for notebooks and unique handmade stationery. And for those who want to take part in the Palm Beach tradition of monogramming everything (truly, everything), Lori Jayne is your girl.
Back on South County, 27-year-old Palm Beach native Jessica Chaney recently opened Lycette Designs (named after her grandmother), where she sells ironic needlepoint pillows alongside porcelain tchotchkes for the home. Also recently opened on Hisbiscus Avenue is The Kemble Shop, helmed by iconic mother-daughter design duo Mimi Maddock McMakin and Celerie Kemble, and the recently opened Royal Poinciana Plaza, with luxury boutiques ranging from Assouline to Zadig & Voltaire. The Royal also boasts a brand new Sant Ambroeus—perfect for an afternoon gelato.
Where to Eat
While there are a number of delicious restaurants on the island, a few stand out as time tested favorites: Chez Jean Pierre is an authentic and charming French bistro perfect for a romantic meal; order a crisp glass of Sancerre and the Coq Au Vin. Buccan, a relative newcomer, burst onto the scene a few years ago and hasn’t quit buzzing ever since (they’re known for their gourmet hot dog). And RH took its new restaurant concept to Palm Beach even before hitting Manhattan’s Meatpacking district; try sitting on the rooftop. If it’s outdoor dining you’re after (you are there to enjoy the weather, after all), Bice, Renato’s and Pizza Al Fresco all offer charming patios where one can imbibe and people-watch. If you want to dine like a true Palm Beacher, head to Green’s Pharmacy or Surfside Diner for some early morning eggs and pancakes—JFK used to take his coffee at the Green’s luncheonette counter.
What to Do in Palm Beach
Cultural and physical activities abound in Palm Beach, where the ocean and Lake Worth Inlet border countless museums and art galleries. The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum (the actual house where Mr. Flagler, who founded The Breakers, lived) is not only one of the preeminent private home museums in the world, but is also a highly popular wedding destination, worth seeing for its opulent millwork and pristine attention to historical detail.
The Manhattan-based Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse, arguably the most exclusive interior design show house in the country, opens its doors for its 2nd Annual Palm Beach run on January 26, this year with a host of up and coming interior designers, including New York-based designer Jessica Schuster and industry veterans Meg Braff, Danielle Rollins and Peter Dunham.
The Society of the Four Arts is a non-profit founded in 1936 that provides rich cultural programming, and is housed in a magnificent historic Addison Mizner building. Check the roster for an impressive array of guest speakers, films, concerts, art exhibitions and more, and don’t miss the gorgeous sculpture and botanical gardens. Also worth a visit is the Norton Museum of Art, which hosts more than 7,600 works of art in five curatorial departments.
A walk or bike ride along Lake Trail is truly one of the best ways to start or end a day, but if you’re itching to get out on the water, rent a boat for the day with Barton & Gray, which docks at the Palm Beach Yacht Club. A beach walk fulfills the most voracious architecture lovers’ dreams, with historic estates designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, Maurice Fatio, and Joseph Urban in plain view. Keep an eye out for famous homes such as Estée Lauder’s big white estate, still in use with the family today, and the former Kennedy compound, recently meticulously restored as a private residence by Pembrooke & Ives.
For those looking for a little festivity, Cucina Dell’arte is the local watering hole, a restaurant that turns into a makeshift “club” of sorts at night. The bar is beloved by patrons both old and young. It recently underwent a renovation, but the owners were sure to keep its signature touch: a shiny disco ball that twirls until morning.
By Ariel Okin