Perched on the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach, Kelly Klein’s compact stucco house gives her and her seven-year-old son, Lukas, unrestrained access to the outdoors they love—and demands very little in return. “I couldn’t be more happy with this house,” Kelly says. “It’s very simple and small. but architecturally it’s quite different. And it’s tiny, so it’s so easy to take care of.” Having worked in the worlds of art, design, and fashion for decades (Photographs by Kelly Klein, her first book of her own photographs, is due out in October from Rizzoli), Kelly is able to execute her vision with ease. “I love modernism,” she says, “but I also like the feeling of warmth.” Though the dwelling is impeccably clean-lined and modern, it’s also serene and welcoming.
A Solid Foundation
To ensure her winter home would feel calm but not austere, Klein paid special attention to its primary materials. “I make a really big deal about floors. They’re the first thing you encounter when you walk in, and I think they’re the soul of the house.” She opted for poured concrete in a pale parchment color and complemented this simplicity with plenty of organic materials, including unvarnished wood accents in pale, beachy tones. “Everything in the house is very natural—natural colors, natural woods. Nothing is shiny. It’s all in its natural state.”
Hold the Color
The house’s serenity is rooted in its calm palette of creams, beiges, and sands. “I don’t put color on the walls or on the fabrics or in the makeup of the house,” says Kelly, who has always favored neutrals. “I really admire people who can decorate with lots of color, and I know plenty of people who have beautiful colorful homes. I just prefer to live in what for me is a more calm space.” But the house isn’t completely devoid of hues: There are tiny splashes of color in the art on the walls, in the vintage Navajo blankets Kelly collects and displays, and in the orchids she grows in her backyard. “One of the wonderful things about Florida is the orchid farms. They have every species and every color you can imagine, and a plant that might be $125 in New York is $25 in Florida, so you can really fill up your house.”
An open kitchen-dining-living space is perfectly suited to Kelly’s casual entertaining style and brings Kelly, Lukas, and their guests a special feeling of togetherness. “It’s a great way of remaining connected to your family,” she says. A set of teak doors can be rolled open to grant access to the covered outdoor terrace area, erasing the line between indoors and out, and an outdoor fireplace (indispensable during Florida’s cold snaps) makes it possible to eat outside whenever they choose. “Florida is about outdoor life,” says Klein.
A Bed Grown in Brooklyn
Years ago Kelly found a stash of reclaimed pine in Brooklyn and used it as a wall in one of her New York studios. Though she eventually had to give up the studio, she wasn’t ready to give up the wood, so she tucked it away in storage. Years later, when the Palm Beach house was being built and Lukas was ready to graduate from crib to bed, she had an inspiration. “I remembered I had this beautiful reclaimed wood, and I thought, I’m going to make a car-shape bed, because my son loves cars.” With the help of her architects, she did just that, using the handsome slabs to create a full-size bed—guaranteeing it will be big enough for him for years to come. “It just fits perfectly in the space, it works in the house, and he loves it.”