Beale Studio Interior Design

Faultless Towers

It was the layout that sold them.
After looking at several apartments in as many Palm Beach buildings as their year-round getaway, designers Randall Beale and Carl Lana, partners in the Manhattan firm Beale-Lana Interiors, agreed that the configuration of the one-bedroom Palm Beach Towers perch offered the most ample and flexible space, and the vintage 1950s resort atmosphere they craved.

"We wanted an open view," Beale said. "The 36 running feet of glass in the loggia affords a much greater sense of spaciousness and light. We have views out toward The Breakers and south to the Flagler Museum. We definitely know where we are," he said.

"That the apartment is not long and narrow, with the rooms fanning out from the entry, is atypical," Lana said. "We wanted to create a large entertaining space and could see how we could do it here."

They gutted the apartment interior and rethought the open living-dining room, closing a doorway from the kitchen into the section of the apartment traditionally used for dining. This part of the room, across from the furniture arrangement the pair call the living room, they now refer to as the den.

"In a 1,300-square-foot apartment, we have three distinct seating areas," including a portion of the loggia space where they placed a daybed and a pair of iron chairs, Lana said.

The basic plan of the apartment didn't change, but its appearance did drastically. "The apartment offered typical Florida fare," Lana said.

The most reconstruction took place in reconfiguring an awkward closet approach to the bedroom. It is now a more functional dressing area adjacent to the master bathroom.

Linoleum floors in the living room and loggia and wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedroom were scrapped in favor of statuary marble floors, installed in a staggered block pattern where the veining doesn't match. The marble helps create the look of an Italian villa, Lana said. "Using marble throughout also unifies the space visually," Beale said.

A mix of period furnishings—some with posh pedigrees, others with more look than lore—creates a "certain glamour" in the designers' eyes. "We selected pieces that seemed appropriate to the context of the mid-1950s building," Lana said. Among them are pieces Beale calls "neo-Ming." They date from the 1950s and feature stylized Chinese motifs. Both Beale and Lana are always on the lookout for new pieces to collect, and comb dealers in Manhattan and East Hampton as well as on Antiques Row on South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach to score finds—for their use as well as for clients.

The color scheme is calm with shots of color. Lime-green patent leather is daring as the seat covering for Venetian-style dining chairs scattered about the apartment. "We bought them at a New York Pier show," Beale said. "They were originally painted orange and white with crushed velvet seats. Now they are japanned."

The makeover, which took a year, resulted in a environment Beale and Lana feel comfortable in. "It has the midcentury European flavor we were after," Beale said, citing set designs from the 1954 film Three Coins in a Fountain as one inspiration for the interior. Lana said they "took on a strong Riviera sensibility."

"I like to think we've interpreted the Palm Beach look in a new way," Beale said, "with references to old Palm Beach and without the kitsch."

Palm Beach Daily News, January 2002