Somewhere on the Floridian coast, one sophisticated Palm Beach residence possesses a particularly compelling mise-en-scène: A 6,000-square-foot waterfront location, paired with a façade that recalls an uber chic super yacht on terra firma. The international-style pied-à-terre—conceptualized and brought to life by architect and interior designer Gerard Beekman of Gramatan Architecture and Design and Livingston Builders—serves as a much-needed winter reprieve for a Chicago-based couple and their twin daughters, who jaunt down on weekends from New York City. “The house is an homage to the wife’s globetrotting grandparents who had planned to build a glamorous home in San Francisco before the outbreak of World War II thwarted their plans,” Beekman says. “In a sentimental nod to their travel on the famed SS Normandie ocean liner, the house is low-slung on the water. The interior feels like the lounges and state rooms of a super yacht.” In short, this is not your typical Palm Beach residence.
Though designed to operate as a beach home, Le Réve (as it was christened upon completion) is much too stylish to be hemmed in by such residential categories. “We don’t come here to be locked in a formal living or dining room,” one of the homeowners says, describing the airy, open-plan central space that serves as the heart of the house. “The idea is that you open the door and are met with a sense of awe as your eye is drawn straight out to the water,” she continues. “So we really wanted to leave the room open and flowy.” To that end, the ceilings climb twelve feet high, while all the furniture is overscaled to complement the interior volume. Of special note are an 11-feet-wide Troscan sofa that anchors the seating area and a long, custom Christian Liaigre lacquered-linen dining table. (The coordinating chairs were finished in a one-off shade of midnight blue lacquer specially approved by Mr. Liaigre himself.)
In order to tone down some of the fancy finishes, Beekman incorporated natural materials by way of a navy, seagrass rug and custom rattan and teak side tables by Bielecky Brothers. More formally, a Vladimir Kagan sofa in teal silk velvet lends an elegant sculptural element, while occasional tables by Jacques Jarrige offer cocktail perches, and tubular steel chairs from Ralph Lauren underscore the yacht theme. Much like the outdoor, zero-edge pool that glimmers with gold iridescent tiles, the great room’s mirror sculpture by Rob Wynne activates throughout the day and evening with the changing light.
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Notably, there’s nothing extraneous in the house. In their initial design research, the couple was drawn to spaces with very few materials, so Beekman limited the palette to stucco, glass, and teak wood (cypress felt too beach-y). Dark palm wood was used in the lounge and study for its unusual, alluring grain pattern. “We were really determined to use the same materials over and over again so your eye is tricked,” the homeowner reflects. “We didn’t want it to feel as though we were imposing upon the landscape.”
For consistency, a teak ceiling is omnipresent throughout the common spaces. (Teak floors with white ceilings can be seen throughout the bedrooms.) Additionally, everything was designed for comfort and purpose: the rooms for the daughters were neutrally outfitted like hotel suites for out-of-town guests, all operable windows slide completely into the wall (with motorized bug screens) for consummate indoor-outdoor living. Most importantly for the race car-enthusiast spouse, a door leads directly from the primary suite into the garage, where his revolving collection of prized Porsches is housed.
“It was such a privilege to have this opportunity to reimagine what my grandparents’ dream house was supposed to be in San Francisco,” the homeowner reflects. Perhaps the playful adage “Scatter my ashes at Bergdorfs” should be tweaked to “Scatter my ashes at Le Réve!”