Palm Garden Retreat

Welcome to this year's Coastal Living Idea House, where our design team has created a seaside home with old-time ambience, modern amenities, and innovative style.

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The designers took cues from the ceiling for outfitting the large space. The living area centers on the fireplace, surrounded by traditional furniture with modern upholstery. Building from the walls' neutral, gray-green palette, the designers chose fabrics to echo the nearby water. "We started with the hazy aqua, then we found the wonderful contemporary fabric on the wing chairs to add some rhythm," says Susan. The trio dressed a three-cushioned sofa in the aqua upholstery and a romantic chaise in a muted tone of the same hue. Throw pillows add color.

The dining area replicates the style, with a twist. A pair of round pedestal dining tables with a handsome ebony finish offers seating for eight. "Everything in the great room is very linear, including the room itself. The round tables really help make it less traditional," Debbie says. Susan adds, "With a group of people at a rectangular table, there are several friends you never get a chance to talk to. The round tables make conversation easier." A chandelier with green glass accents provides adjustable lighting. "The large chandelier unifies the dining room visually, so the two tables are seen as one unit," Connie says.

Roomy louvered cabinets painted a creamy white frame the laid-back kitchen. Granite countertops and a tumbled-marble tile backsplash are peppered with black. "The mix?light-colored louvers, ebony island, wood and granite countertops, stainless appliances?really makes the kitchen a fun, relaxed space," Debbie says. The island, with a distressed black finish and mahogany top, offers bar-height seating in comfortable, leather-upholstered stools.

State-of-the-art appliances in a stainless steel finish give chefs the best of tools. A 48-inch gas range with convection, six burners, and a griddle provides a convenient work space. Twin 20-cubic-foot refrigerators with bottom freezers store make-ahead dishes. When guests arrive, a 30-inch warming drawer holds platters or up to four dinner plates at a time. Hard-anodized, nonstick cookware makes preparation a pleasure, and a three-rack dishwasher with electronic touch controls keeps cleanup effortless. After the work is done, the inviting space ensures the hosts can relax with guests.

"People like to hang out in the kitchen, so we [added the family room and] made it big enough to have plenty of seating," Don says. The two rooms share a hipped roof, with an exposed beaded board ceiling and rafters. "This type of treatment creates a relaxed setting and continues the louvered cabinets' tropical feel," Don says. "The kitchen is casual, and the table and sitting area are an extension of the space," adds Susan. The designers created an informal dining area for family meals with a rectangular table for four. Nearby, a chocolate-brown tufted-back sofa sits opposite an entertainment center and a pair of island-style chairs with rolling arms. "This is a comfortable space for families to enjoy time together, watching TV, doing homework, and cooking dinner," Debbie says. "The dark sofa fabric is very practical. You don't have to worry about kids dripping spaghetti sauce or adults spilling wine."

Susan, Connie, and Debbie wanted to give the butler's pantry a reflective quality with different metals and stainless finishes. "We started with the embossed-tin ceiling tiles and chose a complementary backsplash and cabinet hardware, and we chose stainless for the appliances," Debbie says of a 50-bottle wine chiller and an ice maker, both installed under the counter. The designers outfitted the room with cabinets that have the same distressed black finish as the kitchen island. A deep, under-mount sink features a gooseneck faucet with a satin-nickel finish. Above the counter, folding doors open onto the dining room, making the butler's pantry ideal for bartending.

Just off the kitchen, another pantry features ample room for foodstuffs, dry goods, and pet treats. Drawers offer storage for linens and place mats alongside ribbon and paper for wrapping gifts.

"When you walk into the master bedroom, you just go, 'Ahhhhh,'" says Connie. To keep the space restful, the designers selected a neutral palette. Bedding and furniture in pale colors, from soft butter to linen white, accent walls painted a serene, deep sage.

The king-size bed's panel head- and footboards are a contemporary spin on Shaker styling. Luxurious linens and a quilted sateen coverlet and shams dress the bed in seaside-resort style. Two leather night tables hold bedtime needs.

Yellow leather armchairs and ottomans and a leather bench lend comfortable seating. "We kept the master bedroom really simple," Debbie says. "The rug brings in color and frames the area at the end of the bed, but all the other fabrics are neutral." Window dressings are sheer panels, sewn from two fabrics cut into blocks and layered. For privacy, shades feature overlapping fabric. "The soft folds form a textured stripe, giving the space privacy and light control," she adds.

In the master bath, a deep, heated, jetted tub with lumbar support and a rolled backrest beckons. A classically styled faucet yields a column of hot water to fill the tub. Windows offer natural light and a view of lush landscaping. Folded fabric blinds lower easily. Walnut vanities with wire-screen detailing and limestone countertops give master suite occupants their own sink space. Twin built-in chests keep sand-hued towels and cloths at the ready. "This bath is really a warm and intimate space," Debbie says. Adds Connie, "With all the amenities of a luxury hotel."

Tucked off the kitchen, a masculine study overlooks the courtyard. The designers, inspired by local cigar shops and old cigar boxes, painted walls a deep tan and moldings dark brown. "This is not a huge room," Connie says, "so we hung four mirrors on the wall to make it appear larger." Much of the room's furniture, including a card table, home office center, and lounge chairs, holds to the dark palette. The desk, however, strays. "Instead of a traditional wood desk, we chose a glass-topped dining table to add some light to the room," notes Connie. The 38- by 80-inch tabletop allows space for two host chairs to pull up to the desk side by side or opposite each other. The desk's glass top rests on sawhorse-style bases finished in rich ebony. The black accent color continues in the leather desk accessories and the black-and-white photographs hung nearby. A small reproduction palm tucks into the room's corner, adding a low-maintenance hint of nature.

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