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Bold All Over

A young Florida designer revisists a house once designed by his father

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Andrew Howard is accustomed to nudging nervous clients into making strong design statements, but no coaxing was required for friend and client Jennifer Ward, who couldn’t get enough glam. “I would characterize this design style as Mad Men meets Valentino and Jen,” laughs Howard, a Jacksonville, Florida, interior designer who helped Jennifer and her husband, Peter Sleiman, update their home in Ponte Vedra Beach.

    It’s part Hollywood decadence (think Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), part comfort (the couple loves to entertain), and totally pet-friendly (they have one rescue dog and a cat who have free rein in the home). “Jen has a very modern aesthetic, and she’s also a warm human being,” Howard says. “This design reflects both.

    “Before I took over, the house was big and spacious with great light and volume,” says Howard, whose father, James Howard, designed the interiors, including the architectural detailing, when the house was built in 1995.

    Jennifer and Peter took ownership of the residence several years ago and worked with James Howard to update the interiors. During that period, Jennifer got to know Andrew, and their design personalities clicked. So when she was recently ready to shift from florals and antiques to a modern aesthetic, she turned to Andrew.

    Jennifer’s bold instincts allowed the younger Howard to play with edgy materials and patterns he’d been longing to use. First up was the faux tortoiseshell wall covering he’d spotted in a New York design showroom. “I’d been dying to use it but had been hesitant to show it to anyone,” he says. Jennifer loved it.

    “Jen wanted to update the rooms and make the experiences in them feel more memorable,” Howard says. The wall covering, printed on heavy artisan lokta paper—Nepalese handmade paper—does just that, giving the dining room an unforgettable, dramatic presence.

    To top off the room, the designer painted the tray ceiling a deep blue trimmed with cocoa brown molding, and even Jennifer was surprised by this choice. “When I said blue for the ceiling, both the decorative painter and Jen gasped,” Howard relates. “But in my opinion, blue was the most logical choice, as it gave some relief to all the warm colors.

    “I lost a lot of sleep over that room,” confesses the generally confident Howard. “The wall covering, the blue ceiling, trim color, yellow leopard rug, and ostrich chairs—it was bold. But I found the rooms you lose the most sleep over always come out the best.”

    Drama also played out in the nearly 30x20-foot living room, where the couple frequently entertains large groups. “This is the first room you see when you enter the home,” Howard says. “It’s the center of the house and has magnificent ocean views. It really needed to be a showstopper.”

    For the floor, Howard chose a 25x17-foot navy-and-cream wool rug he designed—an electrifying 21st-century version of a traditional Bargello needlework pattern. “I had to reshape and re-imagine typical Bargello patterns,” he explains. “We rendered this in Photoshop about 10 different ways until the spacing of the lines was absolutely perfect.” He lost some sleep over this space, too, he admits, but not as much as over the dining room. “It’s bold, but the rug’s electricity provides that needed juxtaposing element to all of the decoration.”

    The large-scale pattern of the rug opened up possibilities for fabric choices in a variety of pattern sizes. The chaise is covered in a medium-scale herringbone that stands up to but doesn’t compete with the rug. Jennifer insisted that the fabrics had to please the cat, too, so Howard chose a snuggly cotton velvet for the chaise longue.

    Seating was also selected with human entertaining in mind; the chaise and armless chairs make it easy for people to perch and share sitting spots. Howard designed a crescent-shaped sofa covered with blue velvet—a luscious color somewhere between cobalt and royal blue—that complements the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

    The room’s silver-leafed, multi-armed chandelier remained in place by virtue of its size—nearly 5 feet wide and 6 feet tall. Howard had planned to replace it, but finding another fixture with the proper scale proved difficult and unnecessary. “Once the room was done, we loved it just the way it was.”

    Windows and French doors are draped in velvet panels with an ogee scallop on the leading edge. The velvet curtains, while admittedly not a typical fabric choice, drape beautifully and play nicely against the back of the blue velvet sofa, explains the designer.

    The spacious foyer with its 12-foot-plus-high ceiling was updated as well, with a high-gloss white paint with a blue-gray tint on paneled walls and millwork. “Lacquered surfaces are so gorgeous and unexpected,” says Howard. “They are the new wallpapers.”

    An antique Swedish daybed was spruced up with silk upholstery and paired with a chrome-based coffee table topped with petrified wood. These combinations of old and new—with fresh takes on traditional forms—are what make the spaces work, Howard says. A father and son story played out to stunning effect.

    Photography by Jessie Preza and Colleen Duffley 
    Produced by Elizabeth Beeler

    Interior designer: Andrew Howard, Andrew Howard Interior Design, 4128 Herschel St., Jacksonville, FL 32210; 904/389-5100,
    Decorative painter: Steve McKnelly, 904/710-8793.

    Wall, trim, and ceiling paint (“Stone White” #2120-70): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Floors: existing.
    Area rug (“Kasane Rug,” custom): Tai Ping Carpets, 404/233-4151,
    Pedestal table; tables with leather doors by mantel: custom.
    Mirrors over tables: Mirror Fair, 212/288-5050,
    Chaise (“Jupiter Chaise”): Holly Hunt Studio, 800/320-3145,
    Chaise fabric (“Marmont”/Fline #Z101/02, by Zinc, discontinued): Romo, 800/338-2783,
    Side table (“Lincoln Large Sugar Pull-Up Table” #10555-STL): Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams,
    Art over mantel (Untitled #16, Dominican Moves Series, Pigment Print, 2006, by Mikhail Baryshnikov): J. Johnson Gallery, 904/435-3200,
    Roman shade fabric (“Ibana” #1010250991); Zimmer+ Rohde, 212/758-7925,
    Chandelier; sconces (by Lalique); piano: owner’s collection.

  • Living Room Details

    The living room is all about glamour, with luxurious fabrics and textures.

    See more of this room on the following slides.

  • Embossed Cabinets

    Cabinets flanking the fireplace are walnut with embossed leather fronts, and pull double-duty as bars during cocktail parties.

  • Table Vignette

    Design books, stone obelisks, and other curiosities adorn the custom pedestal table.

  • Living Room

    Andrew designed the living room’s crescent-shaped sofa to tuck into the corner. It is covered in a deep cobalt-royal blue hue to complement the Atlantic Ocean outside.

    Sofa: custom.
    Sofa and drapery fabric (“Adamo & Eva”/Bleu de Prusse #1040/03): Dedar, 800/493-2209,
    Sofa pillow fabric (“Bellisario”/Tungsten #Z225/01, by Zinc); sofa pillow fabric (“Skyline”/Tungsten #Z109/02, by Zinc): Romo, 800/338-2783,
    Slipper chair (“Simpson Slipper Chair” #6720C, Barbara Barry Collection); cocktail table (“Oberon Cocktail Table” #3651, Barbara Barry Collection): Baker, 800/592-2537,
    Slipper-chair fabric (“Labyrinth”/Storm #Z220/02, by Zinc): Romo, 800/338-2783,
    Throw: owner’s collection.
    Black-and-white collage: Richard Giglio, 212/724-8118,
    Accent table/stool (“Mieke Teak Tooth Stool”): Made Goods, 626/333-1177,
    Floor lamp; end tables; small black sculptures: Mrs. Howard, 904/387-1202.

  • Foyer

    An antique Swedish daybed covered in a Zimmer + Rhode silk is paired with modern tables from the Mrs. Howard shop near Jacksonville.

    Details on the following slides.

    Wall, ceiling, and trim paint (“Stone White” #2120-70): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Floors: existing.
    Swedish daybed; mirror behind daybed: owner’s collection.
    Daybed fabric (“Alluvia” #47804/104, by Zimmer + Rohde): Zimmer + Rohde, 212/758-7925,
    Daybed pillow (“Aramasa”/Shadow #Z186/04 by Zinc): Romo, 800/338-2783,
    Lounge chair: owner’s collection.
    Lounge-chair fabric (“Saxby”/Flint #Z151/03, by Zinc); lounge-chair pillow (“Bellisario”/Tungsten #Z225/01, by Zinc): Romo, 800/338/2783,
    End tables; cocktail table: Mrs. Howard, 904/387-1202.
    Area rug (“Shuka Rug,” custom colors): Tai Ping Carpets, 404/233-4151,

  • Ionic Columns

    A cabinet was designed by Andrew to anchor the large wall. Four Ionic columns separate the living room from the spacious foyer, which features a Greek key-motif area rug from Tai Ping Carpet.

    Armchairs (“Louis Ghost Chair” #17185): Design Within Reach, 800/944-2233,
    Chandelier (“Lymington Chandelier,” two-tier #CL88/2/N): Vaughan Designs, 212/319-7070,
    Cabinet: custom.

  • Foyer Details

    Wall, trim, and ceiling paint from Benjamin Moore is high-gloss for a contemporary look. “Lacquered surfaces are so gorgeous and unexpected,” says Andrew. “They are the new wallpapers.”

  • Designer

    Andrew Howard grew up surrounded by design. Family vacations often were spent touring antiques shops and sites such as Biltmore with his father and stepmother, James and Phoebe Howard, Jacksonville, Florida, interior designers. Today, the Howards share offices in Jacksonville and have shops there and in Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • Dining Room

    Designer Andrew Howard tamed the dining room’s stronger features–like the chandelier made from slices of agate crystal from Ironies–with a dusk-blue ceiling.

    Details on the following slide.

    Wall covering (“Tortoise Shell”/Amber, handmade lokta paper by Cannon/Bullock): Cannon/Bullock, 360/221-2742,
    Ceiling paint: custom.
    Floors: existing.
    Area rug (“Leopard”/Kasanga #68046, color 44): Bellbridge Carpets, 800/227-3408,
    Dining table: owner’s collection.
    Dining chairs (“Ritz Dining Chair” #7841, Thomas Pheasant Collection): Baker Furniture, 800/592-2537,
    Chair fabric (“Ostriche”/Caramel #CA00765083, by Old World Weavers): Stark Carpet, 212/752-9000,
    Chandelier (“Jaeger Chandelier,” 6-tier #526-04): Ironies, 510/644-2100,
    Drapery (“Kaleidoscope”/Pineapple #180 838): Jim Thompson Fabrics, 800/262-0336,
    Credenza (“Domicile Credenza”/Dark Oak #65015): Bolier & Co., 336/887-2815,
    Mirror: Mrs. Howard, 904/387-1202,

  • Andrew had been waiting for the chance to use the tortoiseshell wall covering from Cannon/Bullock. Its rich colors and sheen needed strong pieces to coexist with it.

  • Kitchen

    Onyx backsplashes and the hood facing are backlit for drama. Antique mirror and a high-gloss paint on the cabinets add a healthy dose of texture and shine.

    All items: existing.
    Countertops: onyx.
    Oven-hood finish: antique mirror.
    Stools: owner’s collection.   

  • Exterior

    The Ward-Sleiman house sits between the Florida Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Portrait

    Homeowners Jennifer Ward and Peter Sleiman.

  • Master Bedroom

    A faux bois (wood-look) wall covering from Nobilis gives the bedroom a restful and somewhat masculine feel, says Howard. The Roman shade fabric is “Tassara” from Pindler & Pindler. Howard added two tufted stools at the foot of the bed.

    Details on the following slide.

    Papier Bois wall covering (“Chene” #PBS32, Cote a Cote Collection): Nobilis, 800/464-6670,
    Ceiling and trim paint: existing.
    Bed; bedding; table lamp: owner’s collection.
    Bedside chests (“Niagara 3-Drawer Side Table”): Bungalow 5, 201/405-1800,
    Roman shades (“Tassara”/Mushroom #P9034, discontinued): Pindler & Pindler, 805/531-9090,
    Stools at end of bed: (“Marc Stool” #2318-30, by Thomas O’Brien); stool fabric: Hickory Chair, 800/349-4579,

  • Master Bedroom Details

    “I found the rooms you lose the most sleep over always come out the best,” says designer Andrew Howard.

  • Bathroom

    Inspired by a David Hicks fabric design, Howard had the wood floor painted with a large-scale hexagonal pattern in shades of cream and gray. The mirror is from Oly Studio, and the box sconces are from are from Visual Comfort.

    Floor (custom): by decorative painter: Steve McKnelly, 904/710-8793. 
    Sconces (“Mercer Box Light Sconce”/Polished Nickel #TOB2003PN, by Thomas O’Brien): Circa Lighting, 877/762-2323,
    Vanity; hanging lantern; faucet: existing.
    Mirror (“Andre Mirror”/Small): Oly Studio, 775/336-2100.
    Wall paint: existing.