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Taking the long view

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Spanish style interior

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The grand Spanish style favored in many Florida homes is a celebration of heavy wrought iron curlicues and extravagant Mediterranean detailing. However, it is possible to evoke the spirit of Spain's much-loved architecture in a more understated way.

For this project, interior designer Deborah Morcott of DDM Designs was consulted by the architect Jackie Albarran and the clients at an early stage of the build. The owners were downsizing and wanted a formal yet relaxed home in the flowing style of traditional Spanish residences, says Morcott.

"However, the couple wanted to avoid the architectural clichés of the style. Instead, they requested a more pared-back look, with an interior design that implied a rich history, with eclectic decor pieces added along the way."

In terms of structure, the house is centered on an internal courtyard. Long corridors provide circulation and vistas across the home, which is mostly one level, except for an upstairs office. This was a logical decision in terms of future-proofing the home for retirement.

While Spanish in flavor, the home is at the same time highly individualistic, says Morcott.

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Distinctive flattened arches in the corridors have a major impact on the look. The crown mouldings are simple, generous and discrete – as are most detail treatments. In the circulation areas, for example, the baseboards are also understated and in stone to match the floors. However, in the public rooms, tall wooden boards contribute to a more formal presence.

"The wood beam ceilings are integral to the eclectic feel. These, and the doorways, are unmatched, as if added at separate times," says Morcott. "We used a faux finish like weathered plaster on the walls of the great room and the hallways. All these strategies help give the home a sense of age."

The living area floors are in recycled teak, imported from Indonesia. Suitably worn and varied in tone, this wood works well with the ceilings. A herringbone pattern around the outer edges of the floor adds visual interest.

One challenge for Morcott was that the owners needed to integrate a large and varied collection of furniture from their previous houses into the new home. Amassed over time and from different countries, the pieces bring depth and richness to the scheme.

Morcott planned all the spaces from photos before the final draft of the architectural plan. Essentially, the house was designed with the furniture in mind.

"Attention to tone and scale is essential. The predominance of dark wood is one connecting element. I also had most pieces reupholstered in beige to draw them together and to complement the faux plaster wall finish. When colors are similar, visual interest comes from the lines of the pieces themselves."

As the spaces are accessed by corridors, they don't generally look one into another. This meant each room could be given its own personality, without fear of clashing. The one room that can be seen from a hallway – an entry suite to the children's bedroom – is finished in a similar tone to the faux plaster.

The great room features a limestone hearth with flanking custom cabinets housing the television and audiovisual equipment. Most technology is hidden so as not to detract from the aesthetic. A long trestle table bisects the room, and all chairs and sofas are a similar size.

Two traditionally under-used spaces, the library and dining room, are combined. This room features recycled painted floor tiles from India, and has a sculptural planed ceiling, with a faux finish. Hand-painted drapes from South Africa and an extendable Baker dining table add to the formal air. Library ladders provide access to the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

"The finishing touch is the classic Spanish lighting. Large hacienda-style chandeliers hang in most rooms," says Morcott.

First published date: 31 January 2014

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Credit List

Architect Jackie Albarran, SKA Architect + Planner (Palm Beach,
FL)Interior designer Deborah Morcott, DDM Designs (Savannah, GA)
Builder D&D Constantakos
Cabinetry Designed by DDM Designs, custom made by Sure Cabinets
Doors and windows Custom, wood stain, by Palm City Millwork
Flooring Reclaimed Indonesian teak from Haifa General; Castle Stone in Nicole Pattern from Haifa General in hallways; wide plank bamboo in Wenge in guest suite
Wallcoverings Custom faux painting by Axelband Decorative
Paints and varnishes Sherwin-Williams
Lighting Terzani sconces in hallway; Metropolitan Artifacts chandeliers
Entry furniture Custom entry bench designed by Deborah Morcott and made by John Lester Ltd with Leoni fabric by Romo
Great room furniture Antique refectory table; Baker 476 chairs, Oberon fabric by GP & J Baker; antique wing chairs reupholstered in Romo Linara fabric; Polo chairs by Artistic Frame with Lee Jofa Durbar Leopard fabric; Bond chair by Artistic Frame with Lee Jofa Tyler Crewel fabric; breakfast room chairs by David Linley with fabric by B Berger; matching display cabinets custom designed and made by Greg Guenther Wood Group
Dining room furniture Baker Capstan table in antique walnut; Baker Wing Host chairs with Chelsea Textiles fabric
Audiovisual Custom television cabinets by Bausman & Company
Blinds Custom plantation shutters by All About Blinds Drapes Dining room, hand-painted by African Sketchbook Fine Art Fabrics
Other Fireplace surround designed by DDM and manufactured by Haifa General; cabinetry by DDM Designs and constructed by Sure Cabinets