Some interior design projects are quick and easy. Within a matter of months, all the decisions are made and install is happening. Some projects, on the other hand, are labors of love that take more time and care. This was one of those. “I got married and had a baby during this project,” says lead designer Caitlin Kah of Kemble Interiors. “It was a long time coming.” The clients, a couple from Ohio, had searched far and wide for the perfect location for their second home before settling on Jupiter Island, a small, picturesque barrier island off the eastern coast of Florida. They wanted their interiors to match the locale: slightly tropical with loads of Old Florida elegance.
From the outside, the home feels almost Bahamian. Caitlin, with the help of Keithley Miller from Kemble, and her clients spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect blue. “We drove around a lot and looked at other houses we liked,” she explains. Eventually they found what they thought was the perfect shade. The painters were called and the color went up. It felt totally wrong. “We all had a heart attack,” she says. One quick switch later, and they landed on Bashful Blue by Benjamin Moore. “We thought the dark wood doors were gorgeous with the pale blue, and then when you come into the living room, you also have a really pale serene blue,” she says. “It was a natural progression.” Shades of blue became their guiding light, appearing throughout the house in the living room, the kitchen, and the primary bedroom.
The bright blue formal sitting room feels very Palm Beach, a classic aesthetic for the Palm Beach-based Kemble team. Soft neutrals play together to ground the airy blues. The rug anchors the space: “It was our starting-off point,” says Caitlin. “We wanted to include materials that showed age and patina.” Pecky cypress throughout the house adds a layer of texture while also leaning into the classic Florida aesthetic. The Audubon prints flanking the door also reflect that design ethos. The informal sitting room, though, is where the true Old Florida style shines.
Old Florida style is defined by a sort of rustic, tropical ease. It is reminiscent of a time when the Sunshine State was a bit wilder and less developed. There was more wildlife and more to explore. It has almost a safari vibe to it. Animal prints, natural textures, and breezy fabrics are the name of the game. Adjacent to the primary bedroom, the sitting room also functions as the husband’s study. “He’s so sweet; we wanted to give him the best study ever,” says Caitlin. “It was important for us to feel like this room wasn’t squeaky-clean and brand-new.” Madagascar raffia wallpaper and warm sandy tones are the base. Caitlin then had the trim lacquered a dark brown and added red notes throughout the room. “It feels like quintessential Old Florida. It gives the whole house gravitas,” she says.
This project was all about finding the ideal balance of Florida-inspired whimsy and elegance. “There was nothing slapdash about this project,” Caitlin says. “We thought out every position.” With a mix of natural textures and a fun but easy palette, she was able to create a home that exudes the ease of Old Florida and the fun of a vacation getaway.