Palm Beach might be a small island in South Florida, but its impact on the design world has always been big. This exclusive community is associated with wealth, style, and excellent taste. There’s something about it that feels equally Floridian and European. It’s fun, yet incredibly sophisticated. But what exactly is Palm Beach style? I spoke with two interior designers who work in the area about how they define the aesthetic and learned their best tips for incorporating it into any home, whether across the Intracoastal or the country.
How To Define Palm Beach Style
From the Breakers to the Billionaire’s Row, there’s something distinct about Palm Beach. According to interior designer Sasha Bikoff, Palm Beach style is vibrant, colorful and tropical, but also has a classic undertone of European influences. “While Palm Beach style has always been more traditional, it’s becoming increasingly contemporary thanks to an influx of young families, a buzzy art collecting scene, and the growing connection to Miami due to the high-speed train service connecting the two cities,” she adds.
As for that classic Palm Beach look, interior designer Angela Reynolds of Angela Reynolds Designs says it incorporates a mix of organic textures, fun patterns, and pops of color. “It is relaxed, but sophisticated. Traditional, but modern. Formal, but not stuffy. It’s fresh and clean, but with a subtle nod to the traditional. And always understated, never over the top,” she says.
When designing a home, Reynolds likes to put her own spin on the look. “When people think of Palm Beach, the stereotype is loud and bold Lilly Pulitzer patterns. Accent walls and palm fronds are fine, but I prefer to execute them in an unexpected way. Instead of obvious tropical green, I’ll choose a leaf-filled pattern that is sand-colored or pink. This gives the home a tropical vibe, but puts a unique twist on it.”
Just Add Color
Color is a crucial element of Palm Beach design. However, Reynolds notes that balance is key. “The color palette throughout a Palm Beach home is full of fresh whites and sandy neutrals with pops of patterned color to accent the room. My designs certainly have a tropical, coastal feel, but not in the obvious ways. My color palette tends to be softer, using blue-grays, soft sands, and pale ivories,” she says.
It’s very easy to go overboard when it comes to color, but too much is the opposite of Palm Beach style. “There is a right way and a wrong way to pull off color and pattern and floor-to-ceiling Lilly Pulitzer is not the way. A home should be timeless. People easily tire of bold colors and patterns and trends come and go. Palm Beach is all about being fresh and bright, light and airy. Ocean views are the biggest selling point, so anything that distracts from that isn’t Palm Beach style.”
How To Make Any Home Feel Like It’s In Palm Beach
Bikoff believes that proper lighting is essential for creating any aesthetic. “Lighting is a designer’s secret weapon in creating an ambiance for any home. Advanced LED solutions like Ketra, my go-to, now offers highly personalized, programmable technology that can boost natural light during the day to make spaces feely airy and bright and be transitioned to bold, vibrant colors when hosting,” she reveals. “Palm Beach is known for its lavish parties, so creating an atmosphere for entertaining is key, and Ketra’s colorful lighting can either amplify vibrant decor or provide the flexibility to embrace more bold, contemporary designs in a less permanent way.”
Reynolds suggests that when selecting a palette for your home, it’s best to stick to neutrals for the large objects and patterns and brighter colors for window treatments, accent chairs and throw pillows. Textured pieces such as rattan headboards, seagrass rugs and beaded light fixtures are also great for completing the look.
Need a quick shortcut to find the right pieces? Reynolds recommends shopping Serena & Lily, St. Frank, Lulu and Georgia, and The Citizenry to find furniture and accessories with a Palm Beach aesthetic. “They are all online retailers, so you can shop from anywhere to transform your home into a Palm Beach-inspired oasis regardless of where you reside. These stores sell the perfect mix of textures and patterns that I refer to when I think of Palm Beach style. It’s fresh and of the moment.”