Acid green ostrich-egg art? Lavender ceilings? Most designers would have to do quite a bit of cajoling to get approval for such unapologetically colorful moments, but luckily for Lindsey Coral Harper, the client who hired her to decorate her family’s Florida beach house knew exactly what she was getting into. “It’s actually the third house we’ve done together, so we’d already developed a rhythm,” says the New York-based Harper. “We both love color and pattern and texture, and we’re both super decisive, so when either of us see something we like, we just grab it!”
For this project, the client, along with her husband and two young children, had asked Harper to help revitalize a seaside house in Windsor, Florida, a New Urbanist community developed in the late 1980s. In addition to the typical Florida fare (a beach club, a golf club) the town also boasts an impressive modern-art scene, which is what drew the couple, both avid collectors, to the area.
It was their art collection, as well as several newly acquired pieces, that helped inspire the house’s decor, which Harper describes as “happy and cheerful, family- and dog-friendly, but also sophisticated enough to entertain.” To create the right backdrop, Harper wanted to keep the walls and floors light, with art, furniture, and textiles providing the color. But first, she had to address the floors, a “deep, orangey-red wood—not very Florida!” she recalls. Rather than replacing them (“a huge undertaking that we didn’t have time to deal with,” the designer says), she hired her go-to decorative painter to cover the floors with a geometric pattern in beige, gray, and white. “It lifted the entire place and made it so much brighter,” says Harper.
When it came to adding splashes of color, Harper opted for hues that would complement the showstopping pieces of art (among them works by Chuck Close, Hunt Slonem, and Mel Bochner) she planned to use throughout the house. In the living room, a mustard-yellow sofa pulls from details in a Selena Beaudry painting; in the family room, a lavender ceiling contrasts with a bright chartreuse ostrich-egg installation. “I love when things coordinate, but I hate it when everything is the same color,” explains Harper, “so it was less about matchy-matchy than finding things that worked together.”
At the same time, she wanted to make sure that the house still had some beachy flavor. So she incorporated pieces with a bit of old-school Floridian appeal, either vintage (like the statement-making rattan chair in the foyer, which Harper had actually purchased for her own office, but it ended up being too oversized) or vintage-looking (the wavy-lined Celerie Kemble for Henredon sofa in the living room, chosen because “you see it from behind when you walk into the room, so we wanted something where the back is just as pretty!”).
Since the home regularly hosts extended family in addition to the couple’s own children and dogs, Harper also wanted to make sure it could handle a bit of wear and tear. Her go-to trick: Having all of the upholstery fabrics in the kitchen and breakfast nook coated with vinyl. “You can literally spill anything on it and just wipe if off,” raves Harper. “When I say it’s something I’ve done with every barstool I’ve used, I’m not kidding!”
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