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Fabulous Fifties in West Palm Beach

RANDALL BEALE AND CARL LANA
New York-based Randall Beale and Carl Lana have been designing together since 1992. From backgrounds as diverse as fashion and theater, they have been creating clean and elegant interiors with a refinement and creativity that sets them apart. While they have designed everything from corporate offices in Rockefeller Center to pre-war apartments, they were delighted when the owner of this mid-fifties home in West Palm Beach, Florida, asked them to help bring it into the twenty-first century while respecting its origins in mid-twentieth-century design.

West Palm Beach is undergoing a housing renaissance as its older neighborhoods from the early and mid-twentieth century are being rediscovered by a new generation. This home, located in a historic neighborhood, was a typical split-level suburban ranch built in the mid-1950s. Beautifully sited on the intercoastal waterway, it had never been significantly altered and still boasted breathtaking views of Lake Worth and Palm Beach in the distance. An older couple who had lived in the home for many years sold it to the present owner with only one stipulation: that it would not be torn down. And while this was readily agreed upon, the new owner did undertake a major restoration, updating all of its systems with the latest technology. The interiors were lightened and the home was transformed into a casual and elegant pavilion with the themes of coolness, simplicity, and light.

The master bedroom, which looks onto the backyard gardens and the infinity pool, was inspired by the best of the fabulous fifties. Hollywood and glamour were the period’s buzz words; sexiness was in and nothing was considered taboo. Thus Carl and Randall selected shiny and sexy man-made fabrics for the room that would hold up the Florida sun. “Wet” panels of synthetic material from Glant Textiles, Italy, “Glant Patent Leather,” were turned into gleaming white curtains topped by Rococo valances that were original to the house and re-covered in the same fabric. Roman shades constructed in “Giant Spa Cloth” in polyurethane and polyester, also from Glant Textiles, were added for nighttime privacy. Furnished with period furniture including a circa 1940 Lucite-and-lacquered console, and part of the owner’s extensive art collection-from vintage pin-up photos of Bettie Page to glazed ceramic cats from France—the room has a “va va voom!” that is hard to resist. Midcentury modern has made a complete turnabout and come back home to West Palm Beach.

Window Dressings, Brian D. Coleman, 2006