Safe, predictable pastels aren’t really in MILES REDD’S repertoire. So when the famously fearless decorator applies his bold approach to a sun-drenched palette in the Abacos, the results are anything but expected.
Designer Miles Redd brings modern color to a British Colonial–style home in Baker’s Bay.
THE 700 ISLANDS AND CORAL REEF CAYS that make up the Bahamas—strung out like a vast comet tail in the Atlantic Ocean between southern Florida and Cuba—have long been a radiant sanctuary for sun-starved northerners and urban escape artists. Shades of gray come mostly in the form of stingrays and reef sharks, shells outnumber people, and the water is more dependably gentle than in places like, say, northern California.
For the San Francisco–based owners of a breezy, British Colonial–style beach house in the Great Guana Cay community of Baker’s Bay, plans for the home followed a single weekend’s visit with their four children. “By the end of our first trip, my husband said he was going to find a local real estate agent,” recalls the client. “Of course, I thought he was crazy. But we have East Coast roots, so we thought it would be great to get another foot back on that coast. And we’d really fallen in love with the Bahamian culture and the warmth of the people.”
Having built and renovated several residences, she was adept at the process. In short order, they enlisted a pair of blue-chip designers with whom they’d worked in the past: Bay area–architect Jacki Yahn drafted a gracious architectural plan that built on the work of Florida firm Merrill, Pastor & Colgan (the architects of record for the project), while New York–based decorator Miles Redd, a master at conjuring modern rooms imbued with personality, sought a lively take on traditional Bahamian style. “We told them
“You tend to FEEL BEST in spaces where nothing is too formal, especially at the beach.”
we wanted something that felt very open and easy,” says the client. “I don’t want a home that is intimidating in any way.”
The result is a clean-lined residence that hews to the local vernacular—from the classic stucco exterior framed with Colonial-style columns to pastel-blue shutters and extended rooflines devised to cast shade. “They’re like the broad brim of a hat,” says Yahn.
The entrance establishes the animated atmosphere with a graphic zigzag-patterned abaca rug beneath oversize lanterns handpainted with chevron stripes; Chinese urns are set off by walls sheathed with grass cloth. “I always like to put something raw next to something slick, something nacreous next to something rough,” Redd explains. “Disparate elements make for interesting decoration.” The open living and dining areas beyond are outfitted with deep, easygoing seating upholstered in the soft hues of blue and yellow that go so well in the tropics. “My cry to myself is ‘don’t make things too fancy’ but I love fancy,” Redd admits. “Yet, you tend to feel best in spaces where nothing is too formal, especially at the beach.”
Redd’s trademark use of pattern is unleashed in the bedrooms, including a muted-coral and navy bunk room that sleeps seven children. It
was the client, in fact, who initially collected bags and bags of textile swatches. Together, she and Redd sorted through fabrics and images, choosing vibrant shades of coral, emerald, and sky blue to accentuate each room with energy. “You always want to walk into a bedroom and feel wowed,” he says. “But it also has to be a place where you can settle in and relax.” In the process, decorator and homeowner pushed each other in a pas de deux they had polished over the last decade. “She can show me something, and I may say, ‘Hmmm, we can do better.’ Or I can show her something, and she’s like, ‘Nope.’ I’m her editor.”
One “nope” ultimately was overruled: an exuberant Iksel wallcovering for a powder room that mimics Turkish tiles. “Powder rooms should be outrageous— it’s the one space you want to take people’s breath away,” the decorator declares. “Miles knows that when he can’t get around me, he goes to my husband. I think that’s called an end run,” she concedes with a laugh.
Yet as this genial Bahamas retreat proves, Redd is perfectly attuned to his client’s vision for a cheerful home imbued with flair but without airs. “I know where my talent stops and where Miles’s magic begins,” the client says. “He’s so good about proportions and scale and just the right touch of whimsy.”
Creeping fig climbs the stucco siding of the British Colonial-style home. Macho ferns grow underneath the deep eaves. Trim color, Cape Blue by Benjamin Moore.
In the entryway, a lantern custom-painted by Agustin Hurtado and zigzag abaca rug (custom, Patterson Flynn Martin) set a lively, tropical tone. Bench, John Rosselli Antiques.
MINE ANTIQUES FROM EVERY ERA. “We’ve made a lot of great things in the past 300 years, so I hit every auction and market I can to find interesting, unusual pieces.” 20th-century polished green Dunbar dining table, Christie’s.
LET THE LANDSCAPE LEAD. “When decorating outdoors, don’t try to compete with nature. I like to use one solid color like white, pale blue, or green—a natural color you see in the environment.” Cushion fabric, Perennials. Landscape design, Elizabeth Everdell Garden Design.
CREATE SMALL COLOR CONNECTIONS. “This is a simple paper lampshade that we painted pale blue to help unify this entry corridor with the adjacent living room.” Lamp base, John Derian.