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Palm Beach Home with Colorful, Lavish Interiors

Bits of Venice, Versailles, Corinth, and Casablanca live with this well-traveled family in their Palm Beach home

Written by Sally Finder Weepie
  • Carmel Brantley and Ken Hayden

    Portals through space and time seem to open whenever Bob Matthews steps into one of the rooms in his Palm Beach home. They transport him to exotic destinations—to ancient Pompeii, to Dickensian London, to the land of Arabian Nights. And they take him to his most treasured place of all—close to family.

    “Right now, that’s what it’s all about,” Bob says. “My daughter Bianca is 15 and just got her driver’s permit. Miranda is 17 and is looking at colleges. They’ll be off on their own soon. That makes these moments precious. I want to enjoy this time while I can.”

    The house Bob, a financier, and wife Mia, an actress, share with their girls helps him do just that. It was designed in a collaboration with Manhattan interior designer Frank de Biasi to be beautiful, yes, but also functional for family living.

    The house—named Villa Sirenetta by the Matthews family in celebration of its oceanfront (and whimsically mermaid-friendly) location—recalls the classic Palm Beach architectural style of Addison Mizner.

    Photography: Carmel Brantley and Ken Hayden
    Produced by Tori Mellott

    Interior designer: Frank de Biasi, Frank de Biasi Interiors, LLC, 6 E. 39th St., Suite 1000, New York, NY 10016; 212/431-1222, and Frank de Biasi International, 8744 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069; 310/734-8788,

  • Ken Hayden

    Welcoming Foyer

    De Biasi worked with the couple to craft a smart, functional floor plan. An oval front foyer opens to free-flowing interiors that let gatherings easily spill out through a wall of French doors to lapping waves and soft breezes on the oceanfront patio. “It’s a great party place and a great family place,” de Biasi says.

    The exterior style says surely this house must have been raised from the Palm Beach sand by architectural icon Addison Mizner back in the 1920s or ’30s. Patinated wrought-iron lanterns, stenciled pecky cypress ceilings, and Corinthian columns hand-carved from stone would have you believe that this Mediterranean-look home dates from centuries even further past. But this is a house built in the 21st century—only its artisan traditions date to an earlier time.

    “We used craftspeople from around the world to create a home with personality,” de Biasi says. “It’s a fusion of global cultures that reflects the well-traveled lifestyle of this family.”

    From the oval front entry, the home introduces stunning Old World antiques and artisanship, including Moroccan tile wainscoting and a terra-cotta floor. 

    Paint on upper walls (custom, by Celeste Coughlin): Asterisk Designs,
    Tiles on lower wall and baseboard (custom tiles, inspired by 18th-century Portuguese designs): Solar Antique Tiles,
    Flooring (Terra-cotta tile in fish-scale pattern): Ceramic Matrix,
    Chandelier (French blue-and-white painted wood and porcelain encrusted chandelier): Fremontier Antiquaires,
    Center table (“Southern Italian Inlaid Center Table,” c. 1830): Sotheby’s,
    Chair (Carlo Bugatti armchair,c. 1900): Christie’s,
    Torchère (Italian, mid-19th century): antique.
    Door; door hardware: custom.
    Hanging lantern in alcove: Randa Fahmy,
    Wall tile in alcove (custom tiles, inspired by 18th-century Portuguese designs): Solar Antique Tiles,

  • Ken Hayden

    Classically Styled Space

    Inside, elaborate coffered ceilings, intricate crown moldings, plinth blocks, and Old World antiques also say this is a house rich with history. “The devil is in the details,” Bob says. “There are so many little touches in this house that people don’t notice the first time around.”

    The house is awash in handcrafted touches: ornate ceilings and moldings—even walls striéd by a Brazilian craftsman. A free-flowing layout with a wall of elegantly draped French doors facilitates indoor-outdoor living and invites in tranquil views of the vibrant lawn and ocean beyond.

    Wall treatment (strie plaster, with antiqued finish by Ricardo Brizola): Frank de Biasi Interiors,
    Trim paint: Farrow & Ball,
    Area rug (Portuguese needlepoint): Patterson Flynn Martin,
    Sofa (for similar, “Cavendish Loose-Back Sofa”): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Sofa fabric; blue pillows: Sabina Fay Braxton,
    Rectangular pillow on sofa (custom embroidery): Nigel Atkinson Studio,
    Coffee table: owner’s collection.
    Clam shell planter on coffee table: Frank de Biasi Interiors,
    Console table behind sofa (German Rococo, c. 1740, from Steinitz Gallery, Paris); bust on console (French School, c. 1750): antique.
    Sofa end tables (Italian Neoclassical, c. 1788): Sotheby’s,
    Sofa facing windows: owner’s collection.
    Fabric on back of sofa: document panel.
    Table behind sofa: purchased at auction.
    Lounge chairs: from Paris.
    Gold fabric on lounge chairs: Le Manach,
    Patterned fabric on lounge chairs: Prelle,
    Torchière (Venetian carved giltwood and painted processional torchière, c. 1750): Christie’s,
    Drapery: Rogers & Goffigon,
    Drapery trim: Houlès,

  • Carmel Brantley

    Fresh Kitchen

    Cultures and eras mingle in the cooking and informal dining space, with its wood-beamed ceiling and fresh palette. A 200-year-old bar from a London pub contrasts with new bar stools.

    Cabinetry (custom design by Frank de Biasi): Frank de Biasi Interiors,
    Paint: Benjamin Moore,
    Patterned backsplash tiles: Waterworks,
    Range: Viking,
    Island: antique.
    Hanging lights;shades (Pottery Barn sheets turned into shades): Pottery Barn,
    Bar stools (Drucker-style bistro chairs): owner’s collection.  

  • Carmel Brantley

    Chic Bar

    Adjacent to the kitchen and continuing its style and palette, cabinetery shows off drinkware in glass-front upper shelves while stowing other necessities behind Moroccan wood-screen doors. 

  • Ken Hayden

    Lavish Dining Room

    Reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles, mirrored walls in the formal dining space reflect the glamour of crystal chandeliers, nailhead-trim upholstered chairs, and a hand-stenciled sisal carpet. 

    Wall treatment (custom, by Celeste Coughlin): Asterisk Designs,
    Area rug (stenciled sisal): Patterson Flynn Martin,
    Dining table (English Regency): owner’s collection.
    Dining chairs (English Queen Anne, discontinued): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Dining-chair fabric (“Edel”/Raging River, made to order): Christopher Hyland Inc.,
    Chandeliers (Swedish crystal chandeliers): Nesle Inc.,
    Urns on pedestals (19th-century): Newel,
    Commodes by doors (pair of Louis XVI commodes, from Steinitz, Paris): Frank de Biasi Interiors,
    Mirrors with antique finish, in arches: Manhattan Shade & Glass,
    Door to patio: custom.
    Dinnerware: 19th-century Minton Mooresque dishes.
    Flatware; stemware: Mary Mahoney,

  • Ken Hayden

    Handsome Library

    Walls of hand-tooled leather, striéd Venetian plaster, and Moroccan tile set a breathtaking backdrop for antiques from around the globe. “Searching for pieces was the really fun part,” says Bob, who has journeyed with Mia to Italy, France, Portugal, Morocco, and elsewhere. “We’d pick up things on our trips—pieces we love, like a great painting in Casablanca. Those things make a house special.”

    Ceiling treatment (painted and stenciled); wallcovering (custom stamped and painted leather wall panels with nailhead border detail): by Atelier Meriguet,
    Area rug (Portuguese needlepoint): Patterson Flynn Martin,
    Blinds (custom woven antique Japanese bamboo blinds); trim (custom): Lillian Marquand, Limatho Lilou Marquand, Paris, France.
    Chandelier (bronze, Italian 18th-century, from Steinitz): Frank de Biasi Interiors,
    Mantel: A & R Asta Ltd,
    Sconces above mantel: Nesle Inc.,
    Beige lounge chair to right of mantel: custom.
    Blue fabric on lounge chair: Turkish document panel.
    Sofa: custom.
    Sofa fabric: Sabina Fay Braxton,
    Pillows on sofa: Muriel Brandolini,
    Ottoman in front of sofa (custom); Jonas,
    Love seat by windows; pillows: custom.
    Coffee table in front of love seat: fragmented marble on iron stand.
    Pair of wing chairs; settee end tables: Christie’s,
    Wing-chair leather: Edelman Leather,
    Table lamps on end tables (19th-century Chinese porcelain lamps): The Chinese Porcelain Company,
    Commode behind wing chair; art above commode (antique); bust on commode (bronze): owner’s collection.

  • Ken Hayden

    Colorful Accents

    Artisans from Paris created the hand-tooled leather walls and the gilded ceiling. Carpets here and in the living room were woven in Portugal. Green leather upholstery on the chair injects fresh color.

  • Ken Hayden

    Master Bedroom

    "With a lot of color and texture throughout the rest of the house, I wanted a tranquil feel in the master bedroom," Mia says. "The colors of the ocean make my blood pressure go down, and I can completely relax." 

    Wall treatment (custom, stenciled): Asterisk Designs,
    Drapery: Rogers & Goffigon,
    Drapery trim: Christopher Hyland Inc.,
    Area rug (hand-woven Alpujarra Portuguese area rugs): Patterson Flynn Martin,
    Bed (hand-painted Swedish 4-post bed): Lars Bolander,
    Bed-skirt fabric: Jim Thompson Fabrics,
    Bed cover: Ralph Lauren Home,
    Lavender-patterned pillow shams; scalloped pillow shams; pillow, center front: E Braun & Co. New York,
    Trim on scalloped pillows: Samuel & Sons,
    Sconces above bed: Hinson Lighting,
    Art above bed (America School, still life collage on paper, c.1940): vintage.
    Table lamps (Italian silver candlestick lamps, c. 1750): antique.
    Fabric on chair and ottoman by window (silk-and-cotton woven damask): Prelle,
    Chair at right (Italian Rococco painted armchair, c. 1750): antique.  

  • Ken Hayden

    Master Sitting Area

    Wicker chairs from Rome join a custom sofa in a cozy grouping next to the bedroom fireplace. The deep blue tones of a dramatic art piece complement the softer blue hand-stenciled walls.

    Area rug (hand-woven Alpujarra Portuguese rugs): Patterson Flynn Martin,
    Plain drapery; drapey trim: Rogers & Goffigon,
    Wave-patterned drapery: Nigel Atkinson Studio,
    Mantel: A & R Asta Ltd.,
    Fire screen: by Lillian Marquand for Frand de Biasi Inteirors,
    Round art above mantel (Untitled Tondo, by Elliott Puckette): Paul kasmin Gallery,
    Sconces above mantel: Nesle Inc.,
    Lamp shades (custom, marbelized paper): Blanche Field,
    Sofa (custom, Bridgewater): De Angelis Inc., 212/348-8225.
    Sofa fabric (silk, with custom embroidery): Jim Thompson Fabrics,
    Trim (custom woven): Carol Cassidy’a Lao Textiles,
    Pillows on sofa (velvet grid): hand-painted by Sabina Fay Braxton,
    Round table to right of sofa (“Regency Side Pedestal Table”):  antique.
    Rattan chairs: custom.
    Underskirt on round table (antique panel): Francesca Galloway Ltd.,
    Chairs by secretary and mantel (Steinitz Gallery): antique. 
    Chair fabrics: John Rosselli,
    Secretary (Steinitz Gallery): antique.
    Lamp on secretary (Paris flea market): vintage. 

  • Carmel Brantley

    Colorful Bath

    Moroccan influences ebb and flow throughout the house, rising to jaw-dropping heights in the bath, with its keyhole shower entrance, mashrabiya-effect panels on door and ceiling, and zellige tilework. Bob and Mia picked up the painting in Casablanca. “Traveling to Morocco when we were designing the house was huge,” Mia says. “Being able to touch the tile, for instance, to feel the materials where they live, was important. These things give the house great authenticity. It feels like it’s been here a long time. There’s a soul to our home.”  


    Wall covering on top half of wall (custom): Frank de biasi Interiors,
    Art (from Marrakesh): vintage.
    Floral wall tile; tile border; flooring; carved wood on ceiling and floor: Ait Manos,
    Hanging light: Randa Fahmy,

  • Ken Hayden

    Girl's Room

    It’s an old soul, but one that maintains all its youthful verve. Dashes of contemporary furnishings, happy colors, and fun-loving teens ensure this home lives for today. “The house is traditional, but timeless,” de Biasi says. “Fresh and inviting to everyone.”

    This fun-loving bedroom features an shimmering mirror mosaic on the bedcover, a document panel from Turkey as a canopy treatment, Moroccan poufs, and a mid-20th-century India tiger painting.

    Striped area rug: Patterson Flynn Martin,
    Moroccan-patterned rug: Guinevere Antiques,
    Window drapery (cotton chintz): Le Manach,
    Bed (Anglo-Indian bed with bed sheers and document panel from Turkey as canopy treatment): Guinevere Antiques,
    Bed cover (custom, embroidered cotton with mirror mosaic): Shyam Ahuja,
    White bed drapery (cotton voile): ALT for Living ,
    Bed-drapery trim, top and sides (document panel): Guinevere Antiques,
    Pink patterned pillow shams: John Robshaw,
    Poufs  (Moroccan Poufs): Jalan Miami,
    Bedside tables (Anglo-Indian table): Anglo-Raj Antiques,
    Table lamps (ceramic vessel lamps): Daniel Barney Antiques,
    Cabinet beside bedside table; wooden chair beside bed (Savonarolla Chair): Guinevere Antiques,
    Settee (Anglo-Indian daybed): Anglo-Raj Antiques,
    Round table in front of settee (“Drum Stool”): Jalan Miami,
    Brass hammered table by settee : Randa Fahmy,
    Tiger art (Tiger, Indian School, mid 20th century): Galerie de Blanchetti,

  • Carmel Brantley

    Gracious Spaces

    It’s a place where Yorkies are welcome on the furniture and beach balls bounce across the lawn. Because that’s the way this family wants it. “This is not a showhouse,” Bob says. “It’s a home.”

    Artisans carved the Corinthian columns on the back patio, stenciled the pecky cypress ceilings, and painted murals inspired by wall paintings of antiquity. 

  • Ken Hayden

    Lovely Terrace

    The pool terrace on the interior courtyard offers alfresco entertaining space with views of a classical loggia. Lighting the Mediterranean-style escape are lanterns made by a craftswoman in Cairo. Draperies, with fringe that echoes softly swaying palm fronds, soften stately stone columns. 

    Console table:  Brighton Pavilion, 561/835-4777.
    Wall lanterns; hanging lanterns: owner’s collection.
    Tables (Queen Anne-style breakfast table); chairs (Federal-style armchairs): Sotheby’s,
    Urn on console (celadon Chinese urn): The Chinese Porcelain Company,  

  • Ken Hayden

    Pool Area

    Brilliant navy accents mesh with the sparkling blue pool. Shaded by gorgeous palm trees, the outdoor living area includes plenty of intimate seating areas for gathering, lounging, or just getting away from it all.

    Tall urns on counter: ABC Carpet & Home,
    Bar stools: McKinnon and Harris,
    Seat cushion on bar stools: Doug and Gene Meyer for Link Outdoor,
    Rattan chairs; chaise lounges; daybed: Dedon,
    Fabric (vintage): Frank de Biasi Inteirors,
    Pair of cocktail tables: ABC Carpet & Home,
    Tile flooring in seating area: Casa Cielo Mosaic & Tile,
    Mural on wall by small pool (custom); tile flanking mural (custom): SolarAntique tiles,   

  • Carmel Brantley

    Designer Portrait

    Designer Frank de Biasi's favorite piece is an antique Italian comode with sea serpent legs that stands in the stylish foyer.

  • Dominique Vorillon