Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mimi McMakin Decorates a Palm Beach Maisonette

Mimi McMakin of Kemble Interiors is one of my absolute favorite designers... not only is she incredibly talented, but she is also incredibly gracious and kind. You may recall I had the pleasure of interviewing her earlier this year, when I featured her work at Gasparilla Inn, Boca Grande, Florida.

Mimi McMakin's style positively exudes Old Florida/Palm Beach charm, and it is no wonder considering her family is one of the oldest in Palm Beach. Her great-great-grandfather came to Palm Beach in the late 1800s from Brooklyn, and he had a house built and shipped down on a barge. Duck's Nest, named after his wife, whom he called Ducky, is the second oldest house in Palm Beach.

While images of grand castles and casas immediately come to mind when one thinks of Palm Beach, the island also has its fair share of delightful bungalows and sleepy little beach homes. Another of Palm Beach's gems is Major Alley, two rows of Bermuda-style, attached residences built in the 1920s by Howard Major, an esteemed architect who was one of the pioneers of Old Palm Beach style.  These homes on Peruvian Avenue are tiny compared to Palm Beach standards, but they are landmarks and considered town treasures.

Let's take a look inside this 640 square foot jewel box, decorated by Mimi McMakin and her former partner Brooke Huttig for a client who uses it as extra dining space, a guesthouse, and a respite where she can have time to herself to read, relax, and nap.

The dramatic ceiling with antique Zuber wallpaper has an architectural grandeur that defies the dimensions of the room. Pillows in a lime-green fabric by Brunschwig & Fils add a splash of tropical color to the vanilla-white palette. The mantel was appliquéd with shells from Christa's South Seashells. Sofa and slipper chairs in a Pierre Frey piqué. Mirror, Worlds Away. Floor lamps, Visual Comfort.

To keep a feeling of lightness in the dining area, McMakin put a glass top on wicker table bases. On the backs of Bungalow 5 chairs, Schumacher's Margate Damask linen is laced with simple white cording for a casual look. The floor is honed Herpel tile, original to the 1920s house.

The client wanted to connect the bedroom to the garden, so McMakin swathed it in matching Brunschwig & Fils Bengali wallpaper and fabric: "The birds and vines make you feel as if you're sleeping outside." A mirrored wall behind the antique bed captures the view and magnifies the space. Bed hangings in Cowtan & Tout's Trailing Leaf add another layer. Sconces by Visual Comfort.

Scalloping on the canopy valance is picked up on the Roman shades. "It's so much prettier than a straight edge. It's nice to look at something that's got a little rhythm to it," McMakin told House Beautiful.

The Lane Venture settees and ottoman with cushions in Sunbrella fabrics create a cozy nesting spot in the courtyard. "Wicker is typical Palm Beach," McMakin said. "And the new synthetics are a godsend."
A jasmine vine climbs the wall between mirrored trellises, and white orchids hang from the trees. The lush landscaping by Nievera Williams Design turns the space into "a garden of romance."

Pretty in pink and green, a combo synonymous with Palm Beach, the table is dressed with china, crystal, flatware, and linens from Mary Mahoney.
Bougainvillea surrounds the balcony of the Bermuda-style house. The homes of Major Alley are nestled together along a walkway that is no more than five feet wide. They are painted white and laden with bougainvillea.
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I would like to have one of these charming Major Alley homes as my own personal respite too please, decorated by Mimi McMakin, of course! What a wonderful little retreat from the craziness in Miami this would be. :) A girl can dream, right?
Unless otherwise noted, images and captions above are from House Beautiful. Click here to see more and to read a Q&A with Mimi McMakin.


  1. Oh my god that fireplace and sunburst are so stunning! this house is amazing ... from the inside to the surrounding gardens!

  2. Andrea... gorgeous!!! Love all the green in the house. So fresh and the gardens are to die for! Great post!!

  3. I will take one of those alley homes as well! Glad you found my bog and in turn I found yours!

  4. Absolutely beautiful, I had to pin the fish table, love that piece,

  5. What a lovely post -- everything is just sooooo pretty! I love the green. It's so refreshing and beautiful.

  6. I love that fireplace. Everything in this was perfect. I really like how the bougainvillea leaves are sprinkled on the table.


Thank you for your lovely comments. They absolutely make my day!

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