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Colorful Florida Beach Home Designed by Gary McBournie

Boston-based snowbirds find happiness in the feast of colors that decorates their Florida winter home

Written by Krissa Rossbund
  • Robert Brantley

    Serial movers Helen Killian and her husband know that when they move into a new home, it’s unlikely they’ll be staying for long. They have such an affinity for redesigning that the couple feed their appetite every few years or so by changing addresses. And when they do, it’s guaranteed that two things will move with them, every time: their unshakable passion for color, and the person they know can turn their vision into reality—designer Gary McBournie.

    “Frequent change of homes isn’t for everyone, but we like the excitement of a new adventure in a different place,” Helen says. “We make an effort to only become attached to people and not things. It’s more important to us to create memories in lots of different places and carry those memories with us forever.”

    The Killians initially met McBournie more than two decades ago when they engaged him to complete the interiors of their primary home in Boston. Several abodes and design phases later, he continues to interpret their aesthetic, most recently in this glorious seaside retreat on Hutchinson Island, Florida.

    With a roster of successful projects behind them, the Killians were well acquainted with visualizing design possibilities. Even though they saw some negative aspects of the new house, such as the dark color scheme, the positives far outweighed them. Many spaces were perfect for entertaining, a top priority for the couple. And the house plan boasted multiple bedrooms, a requirement for the empty nesters who regularly host family and friends. Another plus was the home’s proximity to the water, with a nearby dock leading to their boat. A multitude of outdoor living spaces sealed the deal.

    The Killians moved into their plantation-style home in 2013. 

    Photography: Robert Brantley   

    Interior designer: Gary McBournie, Gary McBournie Inc., 71 Newbury St., Suite 300, Boston, MA 02116; 617/542-5700,
    Contractor: Raymond Custom Builders, 130 Bridge Rd., Jupiter, FL 33469; 561/529-2246.  

  • Robert Brantley

    Lively Living Room

    After completing a few minor renovations, McBournie began to craft the look of the interiors. The key face-lift involved a palette that would happily jolt the existing dark hues.

    “Regardless of which residence we are addressing, color has always been important to Helen, and she understands how it works,” McBournie says. “To her it’s not about having a wild palette, but rather big doses of color within a neutral framework.”

    In the living room, for example, McBournie bathed the walls in warm ivory paint before going retro by introducing a chintz pattern that the Killians had used in a former house. Rendered in blues and greens, the active pattern of the quilted fabric covers a pair of armchairs, pillows on the sofa, and the cushions of chairs around a glass game table. Two additional armchairs light up the area in a spirited, sunny-yellow sateen.

    “This palette was pulled from the outdoors,” McBournie says. “The colors that I used aren’t necessarily shocking brights; they are actually toned down. But there are a lot of them. The whole house has a blue, green, yellow, and turquoise theme.”

    Botanical prints from Rose Tarlow enhance the floral theme of the living room. A plaid carpet that drives the color scheme is from Stark.

    Paint (“White Dove” and “Super White” 50/50): Benjamin Moore,
    Sofa (“Catherine Sofa”); lounge chairs opposite sofa (“Newbury Lounge Chair”); gold chairs (“Gardner Chair”): Gary McBournie Home,
    Sofa fabric (“Bon Bon”/Spearmint #2970-09): Glant,
    Fabric on lounge chairs and floral pillows (#1104-5, discontinued): Jane Shelton,
    Trim on floral pillows (“Petite Rouche”/Lagoon #T30454-35): Kravet,
    Trim on floral lounge chair (“Emelda” #2153-5, by Sahco, discontinued): Donghia,
    Gold and cream fabrics on striped pillow (“Emelda”#2153-5 , by Sahco, discontinued, and “Silkwood”/Beige #1942-1 by Sahco): Donghia,
    Blue fabric on striped pillow (“Ninon Taffetas”/Turquoise #BR-81081.JJA): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Botanical prints: Rose Tarlow Melrose House,
    End table, right of sofa: Palm Beach Antique & Design Center,
    End table, left of sofa; table lamps: BK Antiques,
    Fabric on gold chairs (“Emelda” #2153-5, by Sahco, discontinued): Donghia,
    Trim on gold chairs (#T30545-35, discontinued); pillows on gold chairs (“Tabley Spot”/Leaf, Ivory #PF50295-2, by Baker Lifestyles): Lee Jofa,
    Coffee table: John Boone Inc.,
    Area rug (custom design): Stark,
    Pedestals by door (Marches aux Puces, Paris); hurricanes on pedestals: owner’s collection.
    Vase on coffee table: Charles Spada Antiques,

  • Robert Brantley

    Living Room Details

    Blue Venetian chairs gather around the glass table in the living room. A frog dish in the living room's colors perches on the table. 

    Pedestal table: Gary McBournie Home,
    Blue Venetian dining chair: J&M Antiques,
    Cabinet: Rose Tarlow Melrose House,
    Frog dish: Kevin L. Perry Antiques, 941/504-5765.
    Vase: owner’s collection.

  • Robert Brantley

    Quiet Family Room

    In the adjoining family room, the designer dialed down the color intensity. A striped rug in soft shades of ivory, blue, and green sets the quieter tone of the space, which overlooks the water and lush greens. Subtle elements punctuate the room. Matching armchairs upholstered in light blue linen give a nod to the color of the sky just outside the expansive windows. Yellow, ivory, and an open plaid pattern cover pillows that are all edged in a textural brush fringe of deep peacock. 

    Pops of turquoise on a table lamp and glass sphere infuse vibrancy into the otherwise quiet family room. 

    Ceiling paint (“Blue Bonnet” #2050-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery fabric (“Shade”/Blanca #250-28): Perennials,
    Drapery trim (“Ninon Taffetas”/Turquoise #BR-81081.JJA): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Window shades (White Matchstick): Accent Shutter,
    Area rug (custom design): Stark,
    Sofas (“Alice Sofa”); coffee table (“Rob Table,” square); pair of lounge chairs (“Boston Chair”): Gary McBournie Home,
    Sofa fabric (“Couture Tweed.9”/Bone #9830-01): Glant,
    Plaid pillow fabric (“Counterpane Check”/Blue, Green #6223-3): Jane Shelton,
    Plaid pillow trim (fringe #33032-9667): Houlès,
    Gold pillow on sofa (“Emelda” #2153-5, by Sahco, discontinued): Donghia,
    Console table behind sofa (discontinued): Dennis & Leen,
    Large vase on console: Coastal,
    Benches under console: owner’s collection.
    Sphere on coffee table: Atlantic, 508/228-7776.
    Lounge-chair fabric (“Firle Herringbone Chenille” #BR-89774.436, colorway discontinued); trim (“Ninon Taffetas”/Turquoise #BR-81081.JJA): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Pillows on lounge chairs: Eliot Wright Workroom, 617/542-3605.
    Nesting tables between lounge chairs; obelisks (from Marche au Puces): owner’s collection.
    End table by sofa: C. Bell,
    Lamp on end table: John Boone,

  • Robert Brantley

    Beachy Breakfast Room

    A brown Parsons-style table contrasts with caned bamboo chairs that don bright white-painted frames. A pair of glass lamps with grosgrain-ribbon shades add symmetry to a walnut breakfront. 

    Dining table (discontinued): Williams-Sonoma Home,
    Dining chairs: C. Bell,
    Chair fabric (“Woodstock”/Coast #V106-2): Carleton V Ltd.,
    Bowl and vase on table; lamps on server; art: owner’s collection.
    Chandelier: Blanche Field,
    Server (discontinued): Formations,
    Box on server: Brass Scale Antiques, 561/832-8410.

  • Robert Brantley

    Classic Dining Room

    The most classic space in the home, the dining room was painted white, then outfitted with brown furniture covered in light fabrics. “Although this room veers on the more serious side, the curvy silhouette of the chandelier adds a bit of whimsy,” says Gary McBournie. 

    Chandelier: Wilson Antiques, 561/802-3881,
    Dining table; host chairs; side chairs; server: Holly Hunt,
    Host-chair fabric (“Easton”/Gold #BF 10391.3): Lee Jofa,
    Side-chair fabric (“Genova”/Primavera #9882-05); trim (“Bon Bon”/Spearmint #2970-09): Glant,
    Centerpiece bowl: John Rosselli Antiques,
    Mirror above server: Daniel Lajoie Custom Framing,
    Sconces flanking mirror: BK Antiques,
    Vases on server: owner’s collection.

  • Robert Brantley

    Master Bedroom

    The master bedroom displays a stark departure from the blue-green-yellow combination that decorates the rest of the house. A delectable apricot hue weaves through the room in a mix of patterns and textures. An airy floral, quilted like other textiles throughout the house, covers the sofa at the end of the canopy bed and repeats in the window shades. Solid apricot throw pillows and two armchairs upholstered in a spunky apricot-and-white overscaled plaid bring harmonious contrast to the colorful scheme.

    To enhance the formality of the polished and tranquil master bedroom, McBournie finished furnishings with dressmaker details—including upholstered furniture and banding on the window shades. “It’s a feminine room, but with structure to keep it from being too girly,” the designer says. 

    Paint (“White Dove” #OC-17, and “Super White” 50/50): Benjamin Moore,
    Beds: Leonards New England,
    Sofa (“Paige Sofa”): chair (“Gardner Chair”); lounge chair (“Newbury Lounge Chair”): Gary McBournie Home,
    Fabric on window shades, pillow shams, sofa (“Garland Bouquet”/Green, Orange): Bob Collins & Sons, 561/547-3013,
    Trim on window shades, pillow shams and sofa (“Artigny” #R70000-37, by Boussac); trim on orange pillow (“Artigny” #R70000-71, by Boussac): Pierre Frey,
    Bed drapery (“Cecil”/Alabaster #2145): Pindler & Pindler,
    Bedside tables: Wilson Antiques,
    Lamps on bedside tables: Brass Scale Antiques, 561/832-8410.
    Carpet: Stark,
    Fabric on chair and lounge chair (“Camaret Check”/Melon #BR-89760.608): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Coffee table: Yale Burge,
    Flower pot on coffee table: John Rosselli Antiques,

  • Robert Brantley

    Blue Guest Bedroom

    While certain public spaces of the Killian home show color restraint, the designer stepped on the gas in the bedrooms. In one guest room, color unfurls in a high-octane tropical flair. Playful stripes of blue, white, and yellow on the upholstered twin bed headboards cheerfully repeat on the bedskirt, whimsical pillows, and a wing chair with a painted white frame. But make no mistake: The theatrical stripes don’t steal the show, but visually cooperate with a powerful floral that gets equal time, appearing in bold profusion on bed pillows, a footstool, and floor-length drapery panels.

    Wall paint (“Blue Daisy” #2062-40); ceiling and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17, and “Super White” 50/50): Benjamin Moore,
    Carpet: Stark,
    Beds (“Winston”); stool at end of bed (“Alex”); table between beds: Gary McBournie Home,
    Fabric on headboards, bed skirts, bolster pillows, chair (“Tides Stripe” #TDS-01, colorway discontinued); fabric on stool, pillows, drapery (“Frangipani” #FGP in custom color): Gary McBournie for Antilles Designs,
    Bed linens (“Italian Hotel Satin Stitch White”): Restoration Hardware,
    Window shades (White Matchstick): Accent Shutter,
    Chair by window; dresser; mirror: C. Bell,
    Lamp on dresser: The Lion’s Paw,
    Lamp on table between beds: Atlantic, 508/228-7776.  

  • Robert Brantley

    Bedroom Details

    Casual stripes and an intense floral in yellow, blue, and green proclaim that this house is meant for fun in the sun and relaxed beach life. “Florida is about bright sun, and the palette needs to match that brightness,” McBournie says.

  • Robert Brantley

    Green Guest Room

    A sporty green-and-white shell design on fabrics pairs with natural elements such as the raffia walls and reeded bamboo furniture to exude a tropical ambience.  

    Wallcovering (“Japanese Paper Weave”/Raffia #1642): Phillip Jeffries,
    Ceiling and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17, and “Super White”): Benjamin Moore,
    Bed (“Reed Bed”): Gary McBournie Home,
    Headboard, bed skirt, drapery and window-shade fabric (“Bubbles and Shell”/Turtle Gate Green #B&S-04): Gary McBournie for Antilles Designs,
    Bed linens (“Italian Hotel Satin Stitch White”): Restoration Hardware,
    Lamp on bedside table; box on dresser: Walker Zabriskie,
    Dresser; chair: C. Bell,
    Lamp on dresser: Balsamo Antiques,
    Chair fabric (“Cozy”/Grass, discontinued): Norbar Fabrics,
    Carpet: Stark,

  • Robert Brantley

    Covered Porch

    In front of the fireplace, vintage reeded furniture is cushioned with bright green fabric that visually melts into the lush, surrounding plant life. 

    Mirror above mantel: Charles Spada Antiques,
    Lanterns on mantel: Devonshire of Palm Beach,
    Baskets by mantel: Walker Zabriskie,
    Ceiling fan: existing.
    Sofa and chairs (“Alfred”): Bamboo & Rattan,
    Sofa-and-chair cushions (“Canvas Weave”/Grass #600-250): Perennials,
    Floral pillows (“Althea Cotton Print”/Citron #2000163-23): Lee Jofa,
    Striped pillows (“Kittery Point Woven Stripe”/Aloe #BR-89714.414): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Coffee table (“Lee Cocktail Table”): Gary McBournie Home,
    Ceramic garden stool: C. Bell,  

  • Robert Brantley

    Outdoor Dining Area

    Rattan chairs and a Saarinen tulip table recall style from another time. 

    Dining table (“Saarinen Table”): Design Within Reach,
    Dining chairs (discontinued): Pottery Barn,
    Chair-seat fabric (“Kittery Point Woven Stripe”/Aloe #BR-89714.414): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Candleholders on table: Nantucket Looms,  

  • Robert Brantley

    Perfect Porch

    Even though the Killians are bound to eventually move again, this location satisfies their requirements—a place to enjoy good times with people they love.

    “What we adore most about this location are the fabulous sunsets, and all of the friends and family who come to enjoy them,” Helen says. “Like most families, we are interested in memories, and Gary has always made sure that we have beautiful environments in which to create them.”

    The vintage reeded furniture is on standby when shade is needed after a dip in the pool. 

    Four chairs (“Pencil Reed Chairs”): Bamboo & Rattan,
    Chair-seat fabric (“Canvas Weave”/Grass #600-250): Perennials,
    Coffee table (“Lee Cocktail Table”): Gary McBournie Home,

  • William Stites