Caroline Rafferty, an interior designer, and her husband saw a modern mid-century house for sale in Palm Beach, and they hurried to snatch it. Rafferty, who owns a local design studio, was especially taken with the 1950s architecture, which stands out among the posh island’s Mediterranean and British Colonial Revival properties.

According to Rafferty, the house interior design was “so simple that it didn’t require one unique style of decoration.” Even better? There was plenty of room for her extensive vintage furnishings and blue-chip art collection. “At long last, a location large enough to house all of our collections!” Rafferty makes a point.

The house needed an update, which transformed into a two-year renovation before the storage areas could be uncrated. The twisting hallways created cramped bedroom design  and prevented access to the pool and back courtyard for beginners. 

“I felt that replacing the main hallway [pushing toward the courtyard] would open up the alignment of the house,” Rafferty says during an evening walk-through with his iPad in hand for sketching.

Public spaces such as the kitchen design, living room, and family room are now located in one wing of the house, while private spaces such as bathroom design, bedrooms, and offices are situated in the opposite wing. According to Rafferty, the key hallway shift “split the house open” and helped her establish the airy, oasislike persona she desired.

Once the demolition began, workers whittled away at the floor to discover that it had been terrazzo. “Even as we couldn’t save it,” the designer says, “I repoured the entire building with terrazzo all over—in the showers and everywhere.” He also raised the ceilings from eight to a loftier 12 feet. “I could really perform with color everywhere” by keeping the multiple color light and the areas open, she says.

Rafferty started to work on his canvas painting, which had been freshly prepared. She envisioned the house as a “rotating gallery,” with as many of her works as possible on display. This approach is best demonstrated in her amazing 2,000-square-foot living room design (which she notes is “more than double the size of my first New York apartment”). Two Andy Warhol works hang on the sofa wall, two Rene Gagnon paintings backstab a Damien Hirst item, and a Diego Giacometti bird wall art painting sits on a nearby side table.

The area’s rarefied art and antiques are contrasted by a massive 20-foot-long white sofa from CB2 (including a Pierre Jeanneret cocktail table). “That’s how I feel.” “I buy what I love and what is valuable, but a white sofa is a white sofa,” she says of the low-cost find.

A teak wall unit by Poul Cadovius Cado, found at auction, adds midcentury swagger while somehow aligning another seating area. Rafferty created a cool but sentimental arrangement in the big living room around her grandma’s original Karl Springer dining. “Bought directly from Karl,” she continues to add. Rafferty ringed it with an eclectic mix of Moroccan chandeliers, and a Pedro Friedeberg-designed chair looked like a cupped hand.

Rafferty used cherry and walnut cabinetry throughout the rest of the house and crisp colors and clean marble finishes—especially intimations of green, as seen in the family room, kitchen, and primary bedroom —to indicate the house’s midcentury roots. “Because this house has several windows and much green outside,” she explains, “I manage to bring the grass color indoors, which is odd for coastal Home Decor Design.”

However, don’t think for the house to remain in this state for long: Rafferty muses, “That’s the good thing about having a designer’s own home .” “It’s completely natural and ever-evolving.”

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RELATED TOPICS: home design