White walls lend gallery style to a Florida home, putting art and streamlined furnishings on display.
An absence of color in this Florida
home creates subtle visual drama as well as a simple
yet stunning backdrop for art.
69 This photo: The tree-trunk-like pedestal and glass top on this kitchen table combine to create an unlikely effect: both heft and airiness. The pendant light fixture offers a visual anchor to the room’s 18-foot-tall ceiling. Opposite: With its strong angular lines, this custom sideboard reflects the homeowners’ ardor for all things Art Deco. The mirror above it brings the outdoors inside in an artful way. “I love to use indigenous plants,” designer Krista Watterworth Alterman says. “They’re architectural, artistic, and contemporary in their own right.”
This photo: “The living room is the wowfactor room—the one you see first that sets the tone for the rest of the home,” Alterman says. She added subtle depth and texture with Belgian linen on the overstuffed sofas and silk on the track-arm chairs. The room’s focal point—a painting by mystical expressionist painter Jamali—adds visual pop. Opposite: The sensual, curved floating soffit above the living room’s bar frames a striking painting by Erica Hopper.
To capture the joie de vivre of a well-traveled couple with a large personal art collection, designer Krista Watterworth Alterman embraced a relentlessly neutral palette that allows architectural elements—sensual curved soffits and elegant tray ceilings, for instance—to stand out in their home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The result: an understated yet stylish space that’s as much a work of art as the pieces it’s designed to showcase.
“Their goal was simple—create a beautiful, effortless, and absolutely sophisticated backdrop for their collected art and artifacts,” Alterman says. “This home is a living, breathing reflection of its inhabitants. It mirrors their almost supernatural ability to make a remarkable entrance without a lot of fuss.”
A monochromatic interior can become a slippery slope toward boring—think white box with no pulse. But Alterman sidestepped that visual trap by performing interior-design CPR, infusing the home with flourishes of mixed metals, heavily grained woods, hand-spun area rugs, and textured furniture and curtain fabrics to create rich yet subtle layers and depth. “Mixing metals feels organic,” she says. “When everything is matchy-matchy, it feels overdesigned to me. The real challenge is getting it all balanced so it doesn’t feel too jarring.”
A spare, less-is-more approach with Art Deco leanings informs much of the design. “The crux of this style is nonornamentation,” she says. In that vein, she opted to remove faux plaster finishes and some woodwork from ceilings, and she painted cabinetry white throughout the house to lighten things. She also simplified the lines of an overbearing fireplace in the living room, left various niches empty to “create an interesting moment,” and studiously avoided dark accent colors on architectural details. “If you just eliminate colors, you can appreciate the details that much more,” she says. “With lighter colors, those architectural details create shadows and reveal their depth. Plus, neutral colors provide a social and emotional respite from the chaos of life. There is a freedom—a positivity—in the absence of color and the brightness of sunshine.”
For inspiration, Alterman browsed shops in an antiques district in West Palm Beach, the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, and art galleries in Palm Beach. She even frequented some of the homeowners’ favorite restaurants. “I wanted to experience their inner world,” she says. “It was a method-acting approach to design.”
But there’s no acting or artifice in the final design, which feels livable, not stuffy and stiff like some art museums. “The clients’ personas are so natural and down to earth—I wanted to bring that element to their home, too,” Alterman says.
Floor-to-ceiling windows that embrace a to-die-for pool view serve as the primary artwork in the family room, providing what Alterman calls a daily “pinch-me moment.” To define the open-concept space, Alterman opted for a comfy sectional sofa complemented by a contemporary lamp and a custom-made
midcentury-modern chair based on a Charles Eames design. The organza sheer
curtains feature metallic ribbing that continues Alterman’s theme of richness through subtle textures rather than color.