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Historic Palm Beach Home Restored

Designer Thomas Jayne taps into classicism for the renovation of a landmark Palm Beach villa

Written by Jenny Bradley Pfeffer
  • Andy Frame

    It’s no wonder Thomas Jayne is among the world’s most respected interior designers. He trained with prestigious firms including Parish-Hadley and Kevin McNamara, he’s a Winterthur Fellow, and he has an extensive knowledge of architectural history and the decorative arts. His pedigree speaks for itself.

    A classicist with a knack for creating historically based, preservation-minded interiors with a contemporized perspective, Jayne (with project manager Marissa Stokes) seemed an obvious choice for the restoration of a landmark Palm Beach, Florida, villa.

    Known as Vita Serena, the 1920s Mediterranean Revival home, originally designed by architect Marion Sims Wyeth, poses tidily below prodigious palms on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway.

    “It feels like Venice,” Jayne says. “The changing light is very dynamic. It’s beguiling and has a magic to it.”

    The Mediterranean Revival structure is a Palm Beach, Florida, landmark originally designed by noted architect Marion Sims Wyeth.

    Photography: Andy Frame

    Architect: Gene Pandula, Pandula Architects, 201 Seaview Ave., Palm Beach, FL 33480; 561/832-3614.
    Interior designers: Thomas Jayne & Marissa Stokes, Jayne Design Studio, Inc., 36 E. 12th St., Suite 702, New York, NY 10003; 212/838-9080;
    Builder: Scott Sloane, Sloane Construction Co.; 1804 N. Dixie Hwy., Suite D, West Palm Beach, FL 33407; 561/655-9277;

  • Andy Frame

    Subdued Entry

    Belying its tropical location, however, the home’s interiors—as brought to life by Jayne—feel patinated and refined, never shabby chic or slipcovered. Rich bronze hues with dollops of
    blue and green form a palette that is the antithesis of beachy, yet never truly formal. The designer banished linens from the main floor, replacing them with tailored upholstery and measured moments of velvet and silk.

    “The architecture of this home is so rich,” Jayne says. “What we did with decoration simply supports the architecture and the art. We furnished and decorated it with an eye to quality and sculpture. It’s arranged for comfort, but there’s a chastity to it.”

  • Andy Frame

    Original & Ornamental

    Restraint is apparent throughout the home. Custom-made scalloped sconces based on vintage fixtures, a photograph by Robert Polidori, and an ornamented iron railing—original to the house—are all the embellishment needed in the refined entry and stairway. Limestone floors and cypress woodwork allow the home’s primary virtue—its view—to steal the show.

    A scalloped sconce was custom-made based on original fixtures.

    Ceiling design collaboration: Jayne Design Studio;; and Pandula Architects, Palm Beach, Florida; 561/832-3614.
    Hand-painted ceiling treatment: Brad Brooks, Brooks Painting, Inc.;
    Sconces custom design, based on sconces original to house, by Marissa Stokes and Thomas Jayne: Jayne Design Studio;
    Sconce fabrication: Metal Dimensions;
    Framed photography from the Versailles series: Robert Polidori;

  • Andy Frame

    Stunning Dining Room

    In the dining room, the details of the original fireplace draw the eye, its patterns marrying with the metalwork of a 1920s iron chandelier—a serendipitous find in an antiques shop, where it hadn’t yet been put on display.

    Designer Thomas Jayne juxtaposed a streamlined steel-base table with a sakhua wood top against moody, textured walls in the dining room.

  • Andy Frame

    Room with a View

    A pair of 18th-century English eglomise mirrors highlight pale blue textured walls that mimic the hues of twilight and play beautifully with the waterway’s naturally diluted palette. 

    Chandelier “Four-Light French Iron Chandelier,” antique, similar items may be available: Wilson Antiques, West Palm Beach, Florida; 561/802-3881.
    Dining chairs “Gainsborough”: Howe;
    Chair-back fabric “Royal Suede” in Chocolate: Edelman;
    Chair-front fabric “Campanelle” in seafoam green and silvery gold: Fortuny;
    Rug from Antiqua collection: Marc Phillips;
    Custom hand-painted wall treatment: Brad Brooks, Brooks Painting, Inc.;
    Dining table “Blackened Steel Base and Sakhua Wood Top” in medium brown stain, custom design by Marissa Stokes and Thomas Jayne: Jayne Design Studio;
    Table fabrication: Metal Dimensions;
    Vases on table “Rosenthal,” circa 1960: The End of History;

  • Andy Frame

    Well-Appointed Space

    Like the formal dining space, the spacious living room, arranged with multiple cozy seating areas, is well-appointed for welcoming friends. “This is unabashedly a room the homeowners use for parties,” Jayne says. “It’s a space in which to entertain people—a gesture of hospitality. We allowed this to simply be a handsome room to receive guests.”

    Polished limestone floors reflect light, accentuating a painted timber ceiling that Jayne conserved. A scrolled 20th-century Italian console and vintage forged-iron-and-leather chairs inject sculptural allure. Glimmers of sapphire blue and bronze offer subtle radiance to a seemingly neutral palette. Consider it chromatic subterfuge for clients who shun much color.

    Scrollwork acts as a curvaceous foil to clean-lined Jean-Michel Frank-style sofas.

    Iron-and-leather chairs Forged iron-and-leather chairs, circa 1960: Therien & Co.;
    Sofas “Jean-Michele Frank Style” and wing chairs “Frits Henningsen Style,” both custom: J&P Upholstery;
    Sofa fabric “Armure Cannele” in Havane, drapery fabric “Silk Faille Jaspe,” wing chair fabric “Serge Antique”: Claremont;
    Drapery fabrication: Paul S. Maybaum, Inc.;
    Blue pillow fabric “Polidoro” in Van Loo: Manuel Canovas through Cowtan & Tout;
    Rug “Moroccan Tribal Rug” in white, brown, and aqua: Shyam Ahuja;
    Coffee tables “Custom Lacquered Tables” with painted glass tops: Daniel Scuderi;
    Table at window “Large Spanish Demilune”: Wilson Antiques, West Palm Beach, Florida; 561/802-3881.
    Fire screen “Forged Iron with Black Metal Mesh,” sconces flanking fireplace, and glass-top console, all custom designs by Marissa Stokes and Thomas Jayne: Jayne Design Studio;
    Fire screen, sconces, and console fabrication: Metal Dimensions;
    Floor lamp “Italian Torchier,” circa 1940: 1st Dibs;

  • Andy Frame

    Refined Study

    Jayne’s clandestine color combination continues in the study, where bronze-hue walls act as counterpoint to splashes of blue—both indoors and out. Textural variation—silk against hemp—adds visual interest. “It’s counterintuitive,” Jayne says, “but I love the blue against the bronze. It balances all the tropical-ness. There are no vivid colors, but the texture makes it interesting. Restraint doesn’t have to be boring.”

    Furnishings remain elegantly nuanced. A Chinese lamp sits atop a Georgian writing desk, both mingling easily with a modernist sofa. A photograph by Candida Höfer holds its own against the dappled vistas just outside the windows, offering an equally enticing view. Decorative architecture was streamlined to let the textures and furnishings speak for themselves—creating a cocoonlike, discreet room that harks to days when intimate spaces were championed by decorators such as Edith Wharton—a Jayne muse. (In fact, he wrote this year’s Classical Principles for Modern Design as a revisitation—through today’s lens—of Wharton and  Ogden Codman Jr.’s 1897 The Decoration of Houses.)

    A hemp wallcovering from Donghia, Cowtan & Tout fabric on the sofa, and pillows from Jim Thompson play to a surreptitious color scheme.

    Sofa “California Design Walnut-Base Sofa”: Thomas Hayes Studio;
    Sofa fabric “Spoletto” in teal blue: Cowtan & Tout;
    Fabric for striped pillows “Lisu Silk” in Sandy Brown, fabric for gold pillows “Ekami Silk” in Light Stone: Jim Thompson Fabrics;
    Framed photography by Candida Höfer, desk, lamp: homeowners’ collection.
    Carpet “Vegetable-Dyed Himalayan Wool” in Green Strie: Warp & Weft;
    Wallcovering “Hemp” in khaki: Donghia, through Cowtan & Tout;
    Coffee table “Waterfall Style” in Steel with Antique Brass Tone finish, custom design by Marissa Stokes and Thomas Jayne: Jayne Design Studio;
    Table fabrication: Metal Dimensions;
    Window shades “Natural Woven” in Beachview Walnut: through Paul S. Maybaum, Inc.;
    Square planter in corner “Weathered Cast-Stone Cube Planter”: RH;

  • Andy Frame

    Breezy Sunroom

    Weighty elements— a sculpture by Richard Serra and a brass-and-shagreen coffee table—punctuate the airy space. Banana-leaf chairs are vintage Ralph Lauren.

    Wood armchairs “René Gabriel” in solid oak: Thomas Hayes Studio;
    Chair cushion fabric “Marrakesh II” in Alabaster: Holly Hunt;
    Sofa “Kensington”: J&P Upholstery;
    Sofa fabric “Westover” in Moss: Clarence House;
    Pillow fabric “Verrano Velvet” in Rosemary: Pindler;
    Pillow trim “Izmir”: Décor De Paris;
    Carpet “Jute” in aqua: Marc Phillips Rugs;
    Coffee table “Solid Brass with Faux Shagreen Inset Top,” custom design by Marissa Stokes and Thomas Jayne: Jayne Design Studio;
    Table fabrication: Metal Dimensions;
    Dining table “Round Concrete Table with Pedestal Base”: Mecox;
    Dining chairs “Banana Leaf Chairs”: vintage Ralph Lauren.
    Fabric for chair cushions “Ripple” in Sail: Rogers & Goffigon;
    Sconces “Grand Tenos Half-Moon”: Bellacor;
    Sculpture flanked by French doors by Richard Serra; sculpture on table vintage by Pablo Picasso: homeowners’ collection.

  • Andy Frame


    This being Palm Beach, Jayne worked with architect Gene Pandula to address the home’s one shortcoming for modern living—a lack of outdoor spaces. Designed to relate to the tenor of the main house but not match perfectly, a new loggia boasts rounded arches and a ceiling with updated nods to traditional Iberian references. Screened skylights, shapely lanterns, outdoor mirrors, and streamlined furnishings join traditional architecture to shape the perfect mix of then and now.

    Contemporary outdoor furnishings contrast with Iberian-inspired architectural details. The ceiling was designed by Pandula Architects.

    Ceiling and flooring design collaboration: Jayne Design Studio;; and Pandula Architects, Palm Beach, Florida; 561/832-3614.
    Matching club chair and settee “Bitta” in aluminum with brown rope, cushion fabric “Natte Beige”: Kettal;
    Pillow fabric “Papua” in ivory: Coraggio;
    Side-by-side club chairs “Swing Club Chairs” in Seashell, discontinued, similar items available: Michael Taylor Designs;
    Coffee table “Mahogany Outdoor Coffee Table” with whitewash stain, dining table “Outdoor Pedestal Table with Powder-Coated Aluminum Base and Concrete Composite Top,” custom design by Marissa Stokes and Thomas Jayne: Jayne Design Studio;
    Coffee and dining table fabrication: Metal Dimensions;
    Dining chairs “Trenza” in powder-coated steel with Graphite seats: Janus et Cie;
    Pendant lanterns: Amethyst Artisan;
    Mirror custom with walnut stain: Daniel Scuderi;
    Gold luster-glazed bowl: BK Antiques;

  • Andy Frame

    Guest Bedroom

    An arched doorway frames the serene guest bedroom.

    Bed custom: J&P Upholstery;
    Bed upholstery fabric “Armure Cannele” in Celadon: Claremont;
    Wool carpet “Three-Toned Wool Strie”: Shyam Ahuja;
    Side-table cover fabric “St. Honore” in Celadon: Pierre Frey;
    Table cover trim “Grosgrain Ribbon”: Samuel & Sons;
    Chair at entry “Antique Metal Wire Chair”: Hollywood at Home;
    Photograph above bed by Nan Goldin: Represented by Matthew Marks Gallery;
    Photograph at bedside: Massimo Vitali;

  • Kerri Brewer

    Designer Thomas Jayne

    In the master suite, simplicity again is given the right-of-way. Pared-down linen curtains match the creamy hue of the walls and layer over narrow windows. Refined pieces mixed with a smattering of antiques get their proper regard against a demure palette of cream, watered-down plum, and pale blue. 

    “There’s a balance here, a rhythm,” Jayne says. “We stripped things back and then decorated. This house has nuance and is not so precious that you can’t use it.”

    Chair “Gainsborough”: Howe;
    Chair fabric “Damas Empire”: Claremont;
    Carpet “Caracas Diamond Handwoven Cotton”: Studio Four NYC;
    Hand-painted wall treatment: Pierre -Finkelstein, Grand Illusion Decorative Painting;
    Table Empire console, framed artwork 17th-century Dutch still life, bowl Chinese bowl: antiques.

  • Ken Hayden