there are some interiors that are eclectic in nature but cohesive in a
way that is shaping up into a timeless 21st Century Style. In the hands—or
more accurately the minds—of some talented interior designers, an "eclectically"
furnished room is far more than its individual parts.
Few laymen truly succeed in putting together a catholic, mix-matched room.
Words like color, shape, scale and plan are often tossed around as the individual
keys to eclectic nirvana, but the real path requires all of these and more. It
takes instinct grounded with an encyclopedic knowledge of design and sharpened
by a liberal dose of innate Style (with a capital S).
Carl Lana and Randall Beale have been working together in interior design for
10 years. Recently, they completed an apartment for themselves in the Palm Beach
Towers where Beale and Lana applied a design that resonates with a worldly attitude
fit for this new century.
Over the last few years, Palm Beach Island has witnessed an influx of interior
designers. Working with clients or simply escaping winter elsewhere, these
designers in particular have helped revive an interest in some of the older apartment
complexes like the Palm Beach Towers, which was built in the 1950's on Lake Worth.
"Entering the apartment, we were immediately attracted by the very unusual
floor plan for a typical condo," Lana explains. "It's broad, not long
and narrow, affording a lot of windows. And, the original balcony was enclosed
for a dining and sitting area." Moreover, the apartment floor plan has "360
degree passage, giving it more of a sense of a house as opposed to an apartment,"
Capitalizing on the open and free-flowing space, they floored the entire apartment
m statuary marble. "We wanted the look of a floor in Europe that had
been down for years," Beale says. They acquired several lots of the same
stone and had the masons mix them up and lay them in a completely random pattern.
"We wanted the busiest marble floor with tons of personality using one type
of stone. We didn't want it to look like ceramic," Beale emphasizes. Adds
Lana, "Running the same floor throughout the apartment unifies the space
and makes it harmonious."
Before even one piece of furniture arrived, the other canvas in the apartment-the
walls-was tackled. Both men felt it was very important to keep to the original
sensibility of the building, meaning no baseboards or crown molding. "We
didn't want to create a little bit of Colonial America m Palm Beach,"
To enhance the walls (they insist plain, smooth walls would have fallen short),
they had every wall in the apartment sprayed with a subtle stucco texture, "giving
that exterior finish on the inside," Lana says. One color was chosen for
the entire apartment. "If you look, it's the gray in a sunset," Beale
notes. All other colors, and there are plenty, are kept on the upholstery and
pillows Always ready with a quick Vreeland-esque pronouncement, Beale adds, "Color
is so much more intense when a room isn't saturated with it."
To organize the living room, they planned two seating arrangements, almost
the mirror image of each other. "Rooms can be too eclectic, with so much
going on that you can't focus on anything," Lana says. A pair of linen velvet-covered
sofas and low Oriental cocktail tables set the stage for Beale and Lana's passion
for a wide range of furniture and objet. With so many varying cultural references,
they needed a few things to maintain order. "When we start a project, we
go out and start looking at Oriental, French, Italian and mid-century modern—all
the references that we love," Lana says.
Unafraid of looking for the hidden beauty in humble pieces, Beale and Lana
introduced four very bold 1970's Venetian style chairs to a delicate Directoire
dining table. "When we bought them they were painted white, picked out in
orange with orange crushed velvet seats," Beale says. "They had great
shapes, so we had them japanned a tête de negre—not black, a brown
black." The lime green patent leather covering the seats is yardage from
an Oscar de la Renta raincoat collection that they bought years ago and had sitting
in a closet waiting for the right purpose.
It's exactly this "flair" that takes eclectic beyond its use as a
mere adjective. While there are rules and guidelines for designing a room, in
the end it takes real talent to pull off an eclectic style. It's something that
some people, like Beale and Lana, are simply blessed with.
Palm Beach Cottages & Gardens, February 2003