Florida Retreat With Timeless Appeal
Designer Phoebe Howard spills on how she transformed this John's Island, Florida vacation home into a classic yet modern retreat with timeless appeal.
Simple, low maintenance, bright, and spirited. A family of four had clear expectations for their recently purchased vacation home on John’s Island, Florida. Unfortunately, though, transforming the dark, dated 1970s interiors would be a tall order. So they called someone they knew could deliver: designer Phoebe Howard.
The next step was as simple as selecting a starting point. "I spent a day looking at fabric with the mother before we decided on a blue, flowered print to use on the pillows in the living room," she says. "Everything else took shape from there. Once you get one decision under your belt, it's easy to make another and then another." Using blue as her compass, Howard pulled together a home with timeless appeal.
The lady of the house requested that the formal dining room be set up around a banquette, a decision Howard supported wholeheartedly. “It actually became my favorite piece in the house,” Howard says. “I had it upholstered in China Seas’s Java Java fabric and treated to be stain resistant, so it’s easy to take care of.”
The living room is the first space guests see when they enter the home. Its picturesque view—of the pool and canal beyond—is framed by curtains and a scalloped valance. Shades of blue, inspired by the floral fabric on the pillows, are mixed in with neutral pieces like the sofas and rug to keep the color from becoming too overwhelming.
Because the residence often plays host to scores of family and friends, the designer wanted to carve out an intimate master suite that the homeowners could use as an escape when they were craving a little quiet time. “They love to entertain, but sometimes you need a break!” Howard says with a laugh. “This spot is perfect for that.”
Howard wanted to be certain that the master bedroom was cohesive with the rest of the house, so she carried the same color cues from the main living areas into the serene space. “I was careful to soften the shades way down,” she says. “Adding a touch of gray to the blue hues makes them not as vivid, and a lot more calming.”
When the family needs to grab a quick bite to eat and doesn’t feel like changing out of their swimsuits and flip-flops, they take a seat around the table in the breakfast room. Wicker chairs give the space a slightly more laid-back, casual feel than the neighboring dining room.
The family room is where guests spend most of their time, in part due to its prime location next to the kitchen. “It’s only natural that when there’s cooking going on, this is where everyone gathers,” Howard says. “But it’s also a good place to nap or read the paper. sectionals really lend themselves to relaxation.”
Howard outfitted the porch with a sturdy stone table and mesh chairs to keep maintenance to a minimum. "The family doesn’t live here full-time, so I chose pieces they wouldn’t have to store in storms and that didn’t require much cleaning," she says. A quick hose down is all that's needed to ensure the space is party ready.
Much like in the living room, the daughter's serene bedroom took its inspiration and palette from a bright green accent pillow. With an eye to toning down the vivid neon hue, Howard introduced calming shades of white and a mix of lighter and deeper blues on the walls, furniture, and accessories to create balance.
Get the Look: The walls are painted Misty Blue by Benjamin Moore.