Interior design firm Aman & Meeks and architect Michael Perry gave a glamorous update to a Palm Beach estate owned by blue-chip collectors.
Photo: Douglas Friedman

Aman & Meeks Revive an Art-Filled Manor in Palm Beach

The Bermuda-style house now boasts major artworks by Jeff Koons, Frank Stella, and Anselm Kiefer
The dining chairs, chaise longues, and settee in the pool area are by McKinnon and Harris, and the John Dickinson side tables are by Sutherland. The landscape design is by Keith Williams of Nievera Williams. Photo: Douglas Friedman

Collectors of contemporary art often elect to display their works in settings that echo the galleries they buy from: minimalist, colorless spaces devised to amplify the exalted objects without distraction. But the last thing a New York couple wanted for their new Palm Beach retreat was an antiseptic white cube to showcase their wildly eclectic, world-class collection. They had no real wish to mess with the exterior grandeur of their Bermuda-style house, designed by the renowned Palm Beach architect John Volk, whose opulent mansions line the resort town’s storied waterfront boulevards. Yet the Tuscany-inspired, jewel-tone interiors, which had a 1980s sensibility, weren’t the right vibe either. 

“We wanted to pay homage to the original architecture but make it fresh and new,” says the wife. “We needed more light and wall space for the art, yet we wanted a real family home, not a gallery.”

The couple, who have two sons, belong to a new generation of collectors making a beeline to the New York office of Aman & Meeks, a firm with a well-deserved reputation for crafting luxurious, curated interiors. The debonair principals, Jim Aman and John Meeks, have handled everything from fashion retail (Ralph Lauren) and furnishings emporiums (Newel Antiques) to Park Avenue showplaces and country estates, and they proved the ideal collaborators to channel the family’s needs for reviving this Palm Beach manor. 

In the living room, a Takashi Murakami cartoon sculpture joins a text-based work by Mark Bradford (left) and a sculpture by Glenn Brown (right); a Jeff Koons mirrored piece is displayed over the mantel. The chandeliers were crafted by Alexander von Eikh, and the sofas are upholstered in a Holland & Sherry chenille; the firm also made the rug. The walls are finished in Venetian plaster in a Benjamin Moore white. Photo: Douglas Friedman

“I wouldn’t say our palette is neutral, by any means,” remarks Aman. “We do a glamorous serenity. You could change out the artwork, and the rooms would still look great.” And in this house, which features major works by the likes of George Condo, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Mark Bradford, comings and goings are routine as pieces are lent to museum exhibitions and new works are acquired.

Sculptures by Jeff Koons (far left) and Mark Grotjahn and a painting by George Condo are displayed in the gallery; a Daisy Youngblood sculpture can be seen through the door. Photo: Douglas Friedman

To better tailor the rooms for the artworks—some of which are quite large—the interior designers undertook a gut renovation, raising ceilings, removing windows to add wall space, and stripping out crown moldings for a look that’s crisp but hardly austere. Then the two went to work on the finishing touches that set the home’s stylish tone. “She likes things very clean, with clear colors, and while her taste is streamlined, she’s also traditional,” Aman says of the wife, who worked closely with the designers. Even though she is as passionate about contemporary design and architecture as she is about art, the wife admits, with a laugh, “We are relatively conservative people—the art definitely stands out more than we do.”

A Brice Marden painting anchors the dining room; the table was custom made with mother-of-pearl inlay, the chairs are a Frances Elkins design, the ceiling is clad in Gracie silver tea-leaf paper, and a pair of 1930s Serge Roche plaster torchères stand at the door. Photo: Douglas Friedman

Walls finished in classic Venetian plaster add instant patina. A powder room’s inset stripes of mother-of-pearl catch the Florida light. Other surfaces are splashed in a suite of blues, the wife’s favorite color. A rich lacquer enlivens the library’s original mahogany millwork, while a barely-there hue on the master bedroom walls evokes the morning sky. “We wanted to create understated backdrops that could hold the room, no matter how our clients integrated the art within,” Meeks says. 

A monumental Anselm Kiefer painting hangs beside a shell sculpture by Katharina Fritsch in the master bedroom; the 1940s gueridon is by René Drouet. John Meeks designed the white-lacquer four-poster and custom-made Pratesi bed linens, which were embroidered by Holland & Sherry; the walls are coated
in Venetian plaster in a Benjamin Moore white. Photo: Douglas Friedman

Blue accents were further employed on some of the eye-catching kitchen cabinetry, on the upholstery in the husband’s study, and in the master bedroom’s linens and pillows, custom embroidered with lively maritime motifs. “The color palette was all used in harmony,” Aman says. “Every room has something that relates to each other.” 

The kitchen features custom-designed cabinetry by St. Charles of New York with a marine-blue steel island by La Cornue, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, and a pendant light by Remains Lighting. A glass-bubble ceiling fixture in the breakfast area, from Liza Sherman Antiques, dangles over a Yoshitomo Nara dog sculpture; the chairs are by McGuire, and the vinyl rug is by Stark. Photo: Douglas Friedman

Particular attention was paid to the ceilings, which, like the singular lighting throughout (most of the fixtures were specially commissioned), help to define the various spaces, adding character and complexity. Silver tea paper softly shimmers above the living and dining rooms, while gilded cork paper draws the eye skyward in the library. “You shouldn’t be able to walk in a room and figure things out right away,” Aman says. “It should be subtle.” 

In the library, a Gerhard Richter painting hangs over the mantel, the Mies van der Rohe stools are by Knoll, and the cast-cement cocktail table is a vintage Italian design; brushed-gold cork paper by Stark is installed between the ceiling beams. Photo: Douglas Friedman

Antique and vintage furnishings add to the mix, playing off the gutsy art. Two 18th-century consoles with carved-wood dolphins look thoroughly modern after many coats of pale blue-gray lacquer, sharing space with an iconic Frank Stella T-shaped canvas in the signature stripes of his early works. Frances Elkins’s loop dining chairs playfully echo the dancing squiggles of a Brice Marden painting. “Part of the fun of mixing eras is that good lines stand out on their own and work together with other pieces,” Meeks says. 

A Frank Stella painting dominates the foyer; the chandelier is by Alexander von Eikh, the 18th-century Swedish bench is from H. M. Luther, and the bicycle is by Lilly Pulitzer. Photo: Douglas Friedman

“I didn’t want period rooms, contemporary or traditional,” the wife says. “I think those are boring. And it’s not how we want to live.” For all their ostensibly conservative leanings, when it comes to their homes, this collecting couple now have exhilarating interiors that are the equal of their daring taste in art.

Click here to view more photos of the home.

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