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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book review: 'Palm Beach Chic'

The first thing I do with an art book is get it naked - whip off its dust jacket and see what (if any) surprise awaits. Like Tom Sheerer's sublime embossed cane binding, Palm Beach Chic does not disappoint with the lush floral mosaic from a poolside shower. We're in Florida - land of sea, sun, and outdoor living. But this is not just anywhere in the Sunshine State. This is Palm Beach, winter playground of the (quietly) rich and famous. 

The morning room of La Follia, the 43,000-square-foot 
Italian Renaissance fever dream of Broadway producer Terry Allan Kramer.

If you're expecting Chinoiserie and trelliswork, you won't be disappointed. But author Jennifer Ash Rudick takes us on a tour of all manner of delicious domiciles, from "modest" apartments to a 600+ acre ranch to Addison Mizner-designed robber baron tributes.

 Oceanside/poolside at fashion designer Lisa Perry's postmodern pad.

[Palm Beach is] the land of dreams come true, a world of imaginatively designed and quality-built nesting places. High tray ceilings, proper entrance halls, excellent proportions, a sense of propriety, but not a trace of competitive consumption. Palm Beachers live graciously but with individual interpretations of the concept.

 The vintage bar of Liza Calhoun, daughter Palm Beach icon Lilly Pullitzer.

Ash Rudick's mother was the publisher of the Palm Beach Daily News or "The Shiny Sheet," so-named because of a special printing technique that keeps ink from transferring to the posh hands of its readers. As a nearly-native and with her parents' social connections, Ash Rudick became the unofficial architectural tour guide for out-of-town friends and guests. In 1992, she wrote her first book about the magnificent homes hidden by hedges, Tropical Style: Private Palm Beach

 The former home of Peter Pulitzer.

These homes attested to the fact that Palm Beachers were observant, sophisticated world travelers who entertained crown heads and even those who had given up their crowns.

 The office in interior designer Meg Braff's apartment.

In her newest book, released today, Ash Rudick revisits a few of the houses but focuses on new builds, new owners, and extensive remodels. It's an evolution, not a revolution. The flash is still centered 70 miles south in Miami.

The terrace of Gumdrop House, owned by Harry and Laura Slatkin.

No two homes bear the faintest resemblance to the other, except for an exuberant celebration of tropical living. Individual expression seems to be a priority for Palm Beach residents.

"Bamboo Hill," Swedish interior designer Lars Bolander's house.

These homes and their magnificent gardens aren't slavish copies of interior design magazines and decorators' dictates but testaments to what can be achieved when inspired by the natural beauty of a unique locale and when imagination is one's only limitation.

A Peter Marino-designed boho fantasy 
inspired by Yves St. Laurent's Marrakesh getaway.

Palm Beach Chic is the perfect escapist read - a lush getaway filled with dream-like dwellings and fantasy settings.

Poolside at the historic Villa Atermis, 
owned by the same family for over 50 years.

All photos by Jessica Klewicki Glynn.

My thanks to Meghan Phillips of The Vendome Press for the review copy!


DaniBP said...

I have to have this book to gaze over this winter. Fuel for my fantasies of owning a place in the sun.
Thanks for the great review.