Designer Mimi McMakin’s family is one of the oldest in Palm Beach, having settled on the island when it was still swamp and seagrass. Her great-grandfather, who came to Palm Beach in the late 1800s from Brooklyn, had a Victorian kit 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.
Steps away is a Gothic shingle-style church built in 1895. It was the only church within 50 miles, and worshipers had to make their journey by boat as no roads had yet been laid. By 1925, the congregation moved into larger quarters, now known as Bethesda-by-the-Sea, and the former church was absorbed into Mimi’s family lakeside compound. She grew up next door to the church, “terrified” by its gloomy facade, yet ironically in 1974, she decided to make it her home.
From the outside, the former church looks much as it did over 125 years ago, however, inside Mimi has fashioned a personal scrapbook of a home filled with oddities, souvenirs, and heirlooms left over from generations of free spirits.
Mimi’s daughter, designer Celerie Kemble, describes her childhood home and the inspiration it provided in shaping her career in her most recently released book, Island Whimsy. “Nothing was palatial or pristine or gilded the way the great houses of Palm Beach are, but it was – and is – a monument to romantic chaos that I have come to think of as the embodiment of home,” she said.
In a recent interview published in House Beautiful, Celerie asks her mother, “I’m wondering, when you think of our home, if you could describe what carries through it consistently, what is its spirit no matter what room you’re in?”
Mimi responds, “Time stands still in this house. So sometimes when I’m lying in bed, I’m not sure if the memory I have is of Zinnia, your daughter, running across the porch, or if it’s you or Phoebe. And for me, that is so lovely, because then we never age. If we have the ability to keep our memories ongoing, then we never lose a part of our life that we cherish.”
Such lovely sentiment and a tribute to the true comforts of home.
Photography by Jessica Glynn
You can read more about Mimi McMakin’s delightful home in Palm Beach Chic by Jennifer Ash Rudick. Celerie Kemble shares how the home guided her design philosophy in her books Island Whimsy, and To Your Taste: Creating Modern Rooms with a Traditional Twist. It was also highlighted in House Beautiful last month alongside archived images featured by the publication in 1989.
You can read more about Celerie and Mimi via the following articles by The Glam Pad:
- CELERIE KEMBLE’S ISLAND WHIMSY
- NEW DESIGNS AT THE COLONY HOTEL PALM BEACH
- ENTERTAINING AND STYLE: A Q&A WITH CELERIE KEMBLE
- A BOTANICALLY BEAUTIFUL HOME BY CELERIE KEMBLE
- A TRANQUIL PALM BEACH GETAWAY BY MIMI MCMAKIN
- KEMBLE INTERIORS REVIVES A 1940S PALM BEACH RETREAT
- A PALM BEACH HOME DECORATED BY KEMBLE INTERIORS IS ON THE MARKET
- A WHIMSICAL PALM BEACH HOME BY KEMBLE INTERIORS
- PALM BEACH CHIC CIRCA 1990S
- A SECRET ISLAND GETAWAY: THE GASPARILLA INN, BOCA GRANDE, FLORIDA – A TOUR WITH MIMI MCMAKIN OF KEMBLE INTERIORS, INC.
- MIMI MCMAKIN DECORATES A PALM BEACH MAISONETTE
- MIMI MCMAKIN: A PALM BEACH ICON
I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend! 🙂