How A South Florida Interior Designer Modeled A Home Around Works Of Art
Combining a showcase for a spectacular collection of artworks with comfortable living spaces was the challenge for interior designer Annie Santulli of Annie Santulli Designs when she was commissioned by a couple who had purchased a home at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens. The home is a winter getaway for the pair, who also have a residence in the Northeast. “They’re very passionate about their art, and they wanted to create the vibe of a gallery, but they also wanted a home that was cozy and comfortable,” Santulli says. “They like to entertain, and their adult children visit often.”
Santulli, who has an office in Palm Beach Gardens, has been designing for more than 20 years in South Florida and the Hamptons. She uses a creative process that blends form and function with insight and whimsy. “I am inspired by each of my client’s individuality,” she says. “It’s not about my style, it’s about their dreams. I identify with every detail with as much care, sensitivity, attention and joy as my clients do.”
For Santulli, interior design is not just a profession. “It’s my personal passion and purpose,” she says. “Once I accept a project, I live and breathe the work.”
The existing décor in the 3,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, 3.5-bath home overlooking a golf course was Mediterranean. The couple wanted something more contemporary with a gallery feel. To create a backdrop for the owners’ often colorful paintings and sculptures, Santulli chose a neutral palette of soft, dove gray for walls and gray and white porcelain tile flooring, along with pure white molding for contrast.
The ambience of a gallery begins with a large, vertical painting hanging just past the front door. The space offers a view through the home to the pool and patio out back. In the hallway beyond, a tall, arresting crimson sculpture of a human figure in dance creates instant drama. Curved walls add architectural interest.
A STUNNING BAR
Because the couple didn’t want a dining room, Santulli used the space allotted for it to design a stunning bar area. “I wanted to create the feel of a speakeasy,” she says.
A wall unit with glass shelving framed in dark mahogany is set against a window that offers a view of the outdoors. A small painting placed against the glass provides a focal point at eye level for anyone seated on the stools, which have adjustable chrome pedestals and white leather upholstery framed in mahogany. The bar itself is topped with quartz. Large, colorful paintings on both walls flank the room, and a chrome starburst chandelier provides additional ambiance.
In the living room, ivory floor-to-ceiling stationary side panels with a lacey weave frame sliding glass doors leading to the pool and patio. The panels, which have a silvery shimmer, hang from 3-foot-long rods with decorative finials. On the floor, a thin, flat, hair-on-hide rug in tones of cream and gray adds softness and texture. A custom gray wood wall holds floating white shelves illuminated to highlight brightly colored sculptures and a collection of bottles. The wall unit also has a TV screen and cabinetry with chrome hardware beneath provides storage for audiovisual accouterments. A large painting of a human face on the adjacent wall draws the eye.
A long sectional upholstered in charcoal velvet adds to the gallery feel while providing comfortable seating. End tables wrapped in coordinating gray faux linen act as pedestals, and a 3D piece of artwork hangs above a small chair covered in a light gray faille fabric. The two-tiered glass coffee table is framed in pewter. “The glass keeps the space open and shows off the rug,” Santulli says.
Striped accent pillows are a final touch. “I found a fabric that has every color in the room,” Santulli says proudly. “I like to bring in color and texture with accessories.”
A tall sculpture in vivid blue provides balance and differentiation between the living room and open kitchen. “We needed color and art so it wasn’t weighted on the other side,” the designer says. To provide continuity, the same fabric that frames the glass doors in the living room hangs at the kitchen window. Unlike the living room’s fixed side panels, however, the drapery here can be pulled all the way across the window. Appliances are stainless steel, and countertops are white quartz.
Santulli considered pulling out the existing kitchen cabinets but decided instead to paint them white and dress them up with new chrome hardware. “They turned out beautifully,” she says. An unusual feature is a long, narrow window between the upper and lower cabinets instead of a solid backsplash. Landscaping outside ensures privacy from the neighboring home. To add further interest as well as continuity, Santulli inserted a small piece of art similar to the one in the window of the bar area. The remaining portion of the backsplash is gray glass subway tile.
An existing rounded center island was changed to a rectangular shape topped with a book-matched white quartz waterfall. Hanging from the ceiling above the island are shimmering chrome pendant lights.
Stools that provide seating for the island have ebony-colored wood legs and are covered in gray faux leather, which is practical for a kitchen. “You can just wipe them off,” Santulli says.
Because there is no dining room, the kitchen is the main eating area. The oval-shaped, glass-topped table with a hammered chrome base seats six. Curved chairs have ebony legs that match the island bar stools and white faux leather upholstery accented with chrome nailheads.
A wall hanging that displays a soaring, curved column of hand-cut silk butterflies is the dramatic focal point of the powder room. Textured gray silk wallcovering shimmers, and a square white vanity is crowned with white quartz.
The master bedroom is dramatic, yet it is also a comfortable retreat. Large windows and a glass door leading to the patio offer beautiful views while dark gray, textured sheer window treatments that open and close provide privacy when it is desired. A white shag area rug creates softness and texture, and white walls showcase a colorful abstract painting. A chair and large ottoman upholstered in royal blue velvet pick up tones in the painting and add another vivid splash of color.
The dark wood bed frame has a slight sheen, contrasting beautifully with a white leather headboard. Bedside tables made with the same dark wood as the bed frame hold lamps with chrome bases and white drum shades, and white bedding and pillows are edged in black.
After gutting the dark, drab master bath, Santulli installed porcelain tile flooring that is different from the tile in the rest of the home. The tiles also climb the shower wall, creating a dramatic look. “I wanted the space to be a little jewel, and the tile worked perfectly with the rest of the flooring,” she says.
Vinyl grass cloth, beautiful yet practical for a moist environment like a bathroom, covers the remaining walls. A large mirror hangs above gray wood cabinetry with chrome hardware and a quartz countertop, while a freestanding tub creates a focal point. A large glass block window lets in light while ensuring privacy.
A tufted gray headboard with chrome nailheads complements gray walls in one of the guest bedrooms, and a gray-and-cream, diamond-patterned rug works beautifully with cream and beige bedding. Gray wood bedside tables hold lamps that resemble tree branches.
A double bed instead of a king or queen helped meet the challenge of a narrow second guest bedroom. Head- and footboards are covered in gray patterned fabric while chrome lamps that resemble telescopes help create the illusion of more width. Walls are gray, and a gray and white rug adds both texture and visual interest.
Side tables are dark wood, and bedding is a shimmering silver. A chrome-framed blue velvet bench at the foot of the bed and matching accent pillows contrast with the neutral tones in the rest of the room. White window shades that open and close let in light while providing privacy.
The homeowners enjoy spending time outdoors, so the patio and pool area were as important as the interior spaces. Santulli first pulled out landscaping that blocked the view of a lake and golf course, replacing it with trees that instead framed the scene. Beige travertine marble covers the patio floor, and blue glass tiles shimmer in the pool. A charcoal gray chaise topped with a light gray cushion with darker welting offers a spot to relax and catch some sun while royal blue pots filled with colorful plantings accent the space.
Under a covered portion of the patio, a granite-topped gas fire pit with a royal blue rock interior rests in the middle of a cozy seating group. The charcoal gray sectional and chair match the chaise and hold cushions upholstered in the same light gray fabric with dark welting. A matching side table has a glass top for easy upkeep. Fabric with the blues of both the pool tiles and the planters help tie the space together and add splashes of color to the neutral tones in the space.
The home now has a décor that is refined yet easy and comfortable. It offers a place for the owners to get away from the cold north and enjoy the Florida sunshine, as well as to display their art and welcome family and friends.