Friday, June 27, 2014

Palm Beach Chic Decor, Circa 1964

I recently stumbled upon pictures of Genevieve "Bunny" and Nicholas "Nicky" du Pont's Palm Beach home, taken in April 1964 and featured in New York Social Diary's "Resort Life" series. Located at 977 North Ocean Boulevard, "Casuarina" is a bermuda-style, direct oceanfront home, designed by legendary architect John Volk and decorated by Valerian Rybar. At the time, Rybar was known as "the world's most expensive decorator to the world's wealthiest," according to NYSD.

What struck me the most about the decor is how timelessly fresh it remains half a century later. Many of these images could easily be mistaken for the Palm Beach Chic style that is all the rage today. Sunset pinks, leaf and lime greens, sunny lemon yellows and ocean blues are mixed with abandon, while liberal doses of chintz, zebra print, faux bamboo, and blue and white Chinese porcelain complete the look. This quote, describing Rybar's work at the du Pont's new house, captures my favorite aspect of Palm Beach Chic decor...

"Setting an entirely new trend, colors and furniture have been grouped to invite relation amidst tropical splendor." 
~ Suzanne "Suzy" Anderson Gardner, via the  Palm Beach Daily News, March 1964 

A tailored white sofa piped in lime green is paired with green lacquered side chairs upholstered in a zebra-inspired print. Faux bamboo side tables and whimsical sconces complete the look.

An octagonal skirted table with green diamond accents, surrounded by X-benches, complements the sofa.

Note the crisp white walls throughout the home, which serve as a the perfect background for the bold pops of color. 

What a view! 

Blue and white Chinese porcelain combined with coral accents... a look that remains wildly popular today!

Faux bamboo, lime green and white... a combination just as crisp today as it was 50 years ago.

This chintz reminds me of Carlton Varney... does anyone know the name of the pattern?

Bunny du Pont shows Stanton Griffis the courtyard pool. 

Nicky du Pont (center) with Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and Edward, Duke of Windsor.

Fashion arbiter Eugenia Sheppard called this "The Barefoot House."

The above images are from the Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway collection. Ellen Frazer began keeping extensive diaries in the late 1920s, recording and photographing the life around her family and friends, and creating a chronological scrapbook of photographs, invitations, and published newspaper and magazine articles. You can read more about the collection here and here.

Augustus Mayhew, author of Lost in Wonderland: Reflections on Palm Beach, shares regular installments of the archival collection via New York Social Diary. It is one of my favorite reads! To see more of the du Pont home, please visit the New York Social Diary: Chapter XXV: Resort Life, March-April 1964.

"As much as everything changes, nothing is different."
~Ellen Glendinning Ordway

Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway's photographs are courtesy of the Lucius Ordway Frazer Collection©, and are reposted with permission via The Classic Preppy


  1. So interesting Andrea! And I totally agree, if it not for the picture quality, I would say this home is in the NOW!

  2. I love it! Especially the green bedroom with the twin beds. You always find the chicest homes.

  3. I agree with the timeless comment. The first photo is gorgeous, and totally modern and fresh. Amazing. I love this kind of historical post!

  4. Really adorable post. I love each pictures which shows unique designs and it is good to have these type of decorations for the home.

  5. Love these images....and yes you are is so "right now" with the design style!

  6. Uncanny how it's so chic in today's time. My favorite is the dining room, and the white sofa. Once again style transcends time....beautiful.

  7. I am dying over the green lacquer desk on the right in the second picture. It is just amazing how Palm Beach Chic is so timeless.

  8. "everything old is new again!" thanks for posting these great pics.

  9. Such amazing spaces. I wouldn't change a thing after all these years. "Happy" and color are timeless.

  10. Nice interior decoration and interior furnishing!

  11. So pretty and quintessentially Palm Beach, beautiful! Have a great weekend.


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

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