The December issue of House Beautiful featured a sneak peek inside a circa 1959 home by Clarence Mack, a renowned architect who popularized the Palm Beach Regency Style. Located in Palm Beach’s historic Regents Park, this is the homeowner’s third Palm Beach home decorated by Leta Austin Foster, one of my favorite interior designers of all time. With each move, Leta was able to repurpose all of the clients’ furniture. “I’m a firm believer that you don’t put things in a landfill. My motto: Recycling is good, but reusing is even better,” she said. Click here to take a tour of the client’s previous home, a 1931 British Colonial built by society architect Gustav Maas.
It is believed that Billy Baldwin originally decorated the Regents Park interiors, and Leta channeled his style within her design. She was able to source several of his furnishings, and she even tracked down A. Schneller, Inc., his upholsterer in New York, to restore them. “I decorated the home as it would have looked in 1959. Both Baldwin and Mack adored Chinese antiques and art, so that became a theme,” she said. In recognition of excellence for this project, Leta was awarded the prestigious Addison Mizner Award for the interior design by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA).
Today, Leta is sharing her tips for repurposing furnishings during a move! She has also provided the slide show she presented at the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation and the Jacksonville Antiques Show, which provides an in-depth tour of the exceptional Regents Park home. We will start with the images from House Beautiful, followed by Leta’s tips and additional photography. Welcome, Leta!
“The furniture in the living room and in the family room is over three-quarters from the clients’ old house and apartment. In the master bedroom and breakfast room, we were able to use everything, and almost everything in the guest rooms! Sometimes we recover, but sometimes – as in the master bedroom, we use as-is because the client loved them,” Leta told The Glam Pad.
“For the move, the client wanted to keep her pretty bedroom exactly as it was!” Leta explained via Instagram. “The Pierre Frey fabric [Les Fables de la Fontaine] has been discontinued, and we weren’t able to recreate the curtains, so we used the matching wallpaper to panel the new bedroom, and keep her existing pieces. The new curtains kept the shape of the custom valances designed by Leta Austin Foster, which the client loves so much.” (Additional images to follow…)
Leta Austin Foster’s Tips to Repurposing Furniture During a Move
1. WALK AROUND YOUR EXISTING HOME AND FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LOVE. IS THE SOFA REALLY COMFORTABLE EVEN IF IT NEEDS RECOVERY? COULD THIS DINING TABLE BE USED AGAINST A WALL AS A DESK OR CONSOLE? IF YOU ARE CHANGING YOUR BED SIZE, WOULD YOUR EXISTING BED WORK IN A GUEST ROOM? AND SO ON.
2. PHOTOGRAPH AND MEASURE THE PIECES YOU WANT—PREFERABLY WITH SOMEONE STANDING NEXT TO THEM TO GIVE YOU A FEELING OF SIZE—AND —BEST OF ALL, PUT THEM ON A “FLOOR PLAN” EVEN IF IT IS A REALLY ROUGH ONE. REMEMBER TO PUT DOORS AND WINDOWS IN.
3. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX—IF A BEDROOM HAS A REALLY BIG WINDOW, DON’T GIVE UP. BEDS ARE PRETTY IN A WINDOW AND SOMETIMES PUTTING FURNITURE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES GIVES YOU MORE SPACE.
4. TRY AND PUT PIECES IN COMPLEMENTARY FABRICS TOGETHER EVEN IF THAT IS A NEW ARRANGEMENT.
5. DON’T GO CRAZY GETTING RID OF STUFF. I STILL REGRET THE PAINTING I GAVE AWAY BACK IN 1975!!!!! AND REMEMBER THAT FADS NOW MAY BE PASSE AND DATED IN A FEW YEARS. THE CRAZE FOR GETTING RID OF BROWN FURNITURE ALREADY SEEMS TO BE PASSING—THANK GOD. LOOK AT THE WORK OF GREAT DECORATORS SUCH AS MICHAEL SMITH AND SEE ALL THE BROWN FURNITURE.
6. REMEMBER RUGS CAN BE RECUT AND REBOUND AND USED IN ROOMS THAT MIGHT AT FIRST SEEM TO SMALL.
Additional Photography via Leta Austin Foster
“A. Schneller, Inc. in New York was one of the upholstery makers used by Billy Baldwin, so we had them do the two armless slipper chairs and the green velvet banquette in the living room made by them. Other than that, we reused as much as possible. We used the Odum Chairs and the Bridgewater chairs (both made by Lataimaki Furniture in West Palm Beach) from their old living room, and the love seat, also made by Lataimaki. One thing I am lucky in is having fabulous workmen to make upholstered furniture and an unbelievable rattan man. So we make so much. For instance, the white rattan furniture on the loggia was made by us, along with the Billy Baldwin wrapped rattan consoles in the family/dining room. Also, the bench in the front hall with its lovely fat silk cushion and the beautiful demi-lune console with its faux marble top… Billy Baldwin loved rattan like that, and so do I,” Leta shared with The Glam Pad.
Leta learned how to create the trim on the master headboard from a Frenchman. “It takes three fabrics that you roll and then pleat,” she told House Beautiful. “I think it is a beautiful detail.”
“The client owned these fashion prints – They were from her husband’s mother who had tons of beautiful things. The little chair in the master bedroom and the one in the dressing room (both of which we recovered) were also from her,” Leta shared with The Glam Pad. “We had done the little chair in the master for her former house, and they were part of the furniture for which we wanted to use the Pierre Frey design. I like to reuse things as much as possible. The little fashion prints are part of that same ideal. Interestingly enough, Picasso had also done designs for a ballet and those prints were framed – Sadly not owned by us, but we loved the idea that we were walking in ‘great footprints.'”
“Clarence Mack and Billy Baldwin loved Pecky Cypress, but in order to use it, we would have had to remove all the wood trim in these rooms, i.e. baseboards, door and window surroundings, etc. We opted to use a fabulous wallpaper from Nobilis called Chene. People swear to us that it is the real thing, and who am I to argue? But it is not,” Leta explained to The Glam Pad.
The gold star wallpaper is from Rose Cumming.
“The tiles in the kitchen are Portuguese tiles from Solar Tile. They do the most beautiful tiles. They also have a large collection of antique tiles – including Delft – but we chose to use new ones both because of the amount needed and, of course, price,” Leta shared with The Glam Pad. “The countertops are Caesarstone, and they were prepared – cut and edged – by Miotta Tile in West Palm Beach.”
Thank you, Leta, for this incredible tour! Leta is the queen of details, and it is such a treat to see such intimate close-ups of this exceptional home. If you are interested in seeing before pictures and learning more about the architectural history of this home, please visit Cote de Texas. You can read an interview with the homeowner via Stuffy Muffy. And you can tour the clients’ previous Palm Beach home here.
- AN EXCLUSIVE HOME TOUR WITH LETA AUSTIN FOSTER
- LETA AUSTIN FOSTER’S 10 TIPS FOR TIMELESS INTERIORS
- A FLORIDA CLASSIC BY LETA AUSTIN FOSTER
- CLASSIC FLORIDA STYLE BY LETA AUSTIN FOSTER
- LETA AUSTIN FOSTER DESIGNS A 1930S OCEANFRONT MASTERPIECE
- LETA AUSTIN FOSTER REVITALIZES VIRGINIA’S HISTORIC MILBURNE
- TRADITIONAL INTERIORS BY LETA AUSTIN FOSTER
- PALM BEACH PERFECTION ON PENDLETON