Beale Studio Interior Design

Gray Matter

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," he adds.

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," Lana says.

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