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Florida Home with Timeless Appeal

By tastefully blending traditional elements with contemporary flourishes, everything old is new again in this historic, century-old Florida home.

Written by Ken Wysocky
  • Tria Giovan

    The renovation of this aging landmark home in the heart of Palm Beach, Florida, required architect Jeff Smith and interior designer Sherrill Canet to negotiate some tricky design terrain: Make the 1923 Mediterranean beauty—designed by noted architect Marion Syms Wyeth for American industrialist John S. Pillsbury—better suited for modern family life without snubbing its rich, old-world roots and character.

    The use of what Canet calls “clear colors”—in this case, vibrant greens and blues—creates a look that’s bold yet sophisticated in the living room. 

    Photography: Tria Giovan
    Produced by Anna Molvik

    Architect: Jeffery Smith, Smith Architectural Group, Inc., 206 Phipps Plaza, Palm Beach, FL 33480; 561/832-0202;
    Interior designer: Sherrill Canet, Sherrill Canet Interiors, Ltd., 25 Old Tappan Rd., Locust Valley, NY 11560; 516/676-7611;
    Landscape architects: Mario Nievera and Keith Williams, Nievera Williams Landscape Architecture, 223 Sunset Ave., Palm Beach, FL 33480; 561/659-2820;

  • Tria Giovan

    Vibrant Living Room

    “The original home had nice bones,” Smith says. “Our architectural goal was to maintain the Wyeth look—to make it appear that we were never there, while modernizing the floor plan.”

    With its richly textured sisal rug, bold green and blue accents, paneled pecky cypress ceiling, and cast-stone fireplace (replicated from architect Marion Syms Wyeth’s original drawings), the living room exemplifies architect Jeff Smith and Canet’s efforts to allow old and new to happily play together. “This room is fancy, yet still relaxed and very fresh looking,” Canet says. “The palette is minimal, and the colors read as almost neutral, even though they’re not.”

  • Tria Giovan

    Upgraded Kitchen

    Smith started by demolishing one wing as well as a warren of smaller rooms on the multilevel second floor of the main home. This made way for a new addition on the main floor housing a larger kitchen, family room, and breakfast room, as well as room for seven bedrooms—all on one level—plus a sitting area upstairs. “We wanted to make the house more comfortable for a very large family, with multiple seating areas where people can enjoy private time,” Canet says. “Now it can hold a lot of people without anyone feeling piled on top of each other.”

    A large, U-shape walnut island and a muscular brushed-steel range hood serve as visual anchors in the expansive kitchen, which is part of the home’s new addition. 

  • Tria Giovan

    Inviting Loggia

    A whitewashed, millwork-clad ceiling lends instant patina to a new loggia off the kitchen. 

  • Tria Giovan

    Blue-and-White Breakfast Room

    To preserve that Mediterranean flavor, Smith and Canet kept as many original materials as possible, such as terra-cotta tiles and wood flooring. Then they called on pecky cypress, cast-stone ornamentation, an exposed exterior staircase, stenciled beam ceilings, and tile floors to maintain the home’s design continuity—and its heritage—in the new spaces.

    Imported ceramic tiles from Portugal brighten the new, sun-drenched breakfast room while paying homage to original tile in other rooms. 

  • Tria Giovan

    Dining Room

    To make the interiors feel more contemporary, Canet gently tweaked the Mediterranean playbook by eschewing dark wood ceilings in favor of a whitewashed treatment.

    To balance the dining room’s strong original architectural features, such as a stone fountain lined with Portuguese tiles, interior designer Sherrill Canet employed an airy iron chandelier, French-influenced leather chairs with velvet backs, an English-style pedestal table, and Asian artwork. 

  • Tria Giovan

    Light-Filled Dining Room

    She also opted for clean, vibrant color palettes—just two or three hues for each room—punctuated by modern artwork throughout the nearly 11,000-square-foot home.

    A whitewashed, pecky cypress ceiling and banks of French doors tone down the formality of the dining room’s original raised-stone fireplace. 

  • Tria Giovan


    “The juxtaposition of modern art in a traditional home provides energy,” she says. “It truly brings this home into this century.”

    A long hallway is distinguished by traditional Mediterranean elements, such as a beamed pecky cypress ceiling, iron lanterns, and an original terra-cotta tile floor. 

  • Tria Giovan

    Pretty Bedroom

    Intricate paneling crowns the master bedroom, but the overall look is kept light with white paint, grasscloth-covered walls, and an ethereal palette of sky blues. Canet added dimension to the bed alcove with an embroidered fabric featuring a leafy floral motif that echoes the mood of the tropical gardens outside.

  • Tria Giovan

    All in the Details

    Ornate doors lend architectural panache to even the home’s auxiliary spaces, such as this entrance to the pool. 

  • Nathan Schroder