Like many dream homes, there’s a story behind this Tequesta, Fla., dwelling. Ann Heath Templeton, owner of Birmingham-based Duncan Fuller Interiors, who worked on the vacation home, says her client-turned-friend discovered the waterfront property from aboard a boat going down the Loxahatchee River. “She said, ‘If that house is for sale, I’ll buy it,’ ” Templeton recalls. Upon closer inspection, the client noticed that there was, indeed, a “For Sale” sign.
“It has more than you get with a house on the ocean,” the designer says of the property, which is located on a peninsula. “There’s more visual (variety) on the river, and you can paddleboard on the water.”
For the interiors, her client envisioned filling the Southern Plantation-style house with repurposed pieces she already had. “She wanted to take all of the furniture from a lake home she sold in Michigan, recover it, and put it in this house,” Templeton explains.
The owner didn’t want the typical Florida aesthetic for her Palm Beach County retreat. “She wanted the home to feel like a home,” the designer says. “She loves to entertain.”
An existing art collection and select antiques like African swords made the cut to accompany a few new pieces for the residence, which was reconfigured to suit the client’s needs. “She wanted to use the living room as a family room,” Templeton says about the homeowner, who has two grown daughters. “She didn’t want to waste that room, so she put a TV in there and a grand piano, (as well as) sectionals that can fit the whole family.”
The contents from the client’s former vacation home weren’t the only things that came from the Great Lakes State; Templeton brought the trades along, too. “Everyone (except the contractor, who did some remodeling) was from Michigan — all the reupholstery was done here, and everyone went down there,” she says about the team behind the scenes, from the movers to the lighting company that made most of the fixtures and then went to Florida to supervise the installation.
When it comes to reworking what you have, Templeton says reupholstering isn’t that different from her normal routine. “In my mind, it’s just like ordering new furniture and picking out the fabric,” she says. The two-story living room combines a recovered custom chair and ottoman, an antique rug, and a buffet from the client’s previous home with a new light fixture that has a palm leaf motif. Wood features, like the ceiling, stand out against water-blue accent colors.
A balcony that surrounds the space leads to the bedrooms, including the master suite — where white walls highlight the wood ceiling. New additions include the four-poster bed with palm leaf details and custom-made matching bedside tables that set the stage for the seating, and accent pillows reupholstered in a palm print fabric. A fireplace mantel was relocated to better accommodate a flat-screen TV, and wall-to-wall carpet was installed in most of the bedrooms to add comfort underfoot.
In the main areas, there are lots of comfy places for the homeowner — who often hosts fundraisers — and her guests to sit. A nook in the kitchen, with antique chairs atop a sisal rug, serves as a game room.
For the combination dining/sitting room, an expansive table with a bronze base from the client’s previous home now sports an onyx top, to better suit the setting. “It’s more practical,” Templeton says. The room’s leather chairs kept their look, while a new console accommodates a TV near a pair of sofas recovered in colorful stripes.
The outdoor spaces, like the existing pool and Jacuzzi that face the river, are just as striking. Lounge furniture originally purchased for the homeowner’s Michigan lake house merges with a few new pieces.
Wood details throughout the home became more prominent. For instance, the front door and the covered porch now pop against the new exterior paint Templeton calls a “taupey bark color.”
“Just repainting the house and redoing the pool deck makes a world of difference,” she says. “I don’t think people understand how much that can do for the environment.”
The designer also knew when to hold back, as she did in the white kitchen that she says was very well done and not worth touching, and the bathrooms that already featured neutral palettes and high-end finishes.
For projects near and far, Michigan sources remain a priority for Templeton. “You have better control, and you can have the trades go to the site with you, like the movers that go the extra mile to help hang art,” she says.
The designer will be the first to admit that she wasn’t convinced when it came to repurposing so many pieces, despite their high quality. “I wasn’t so sure at first, but I agree with my client now,” she says. “It really works.” So did the timing of the unique project, which was finished just before the pandemic and wound up being the perfect getaway from the client’s home in Birmingham.
Ann Heath Templeton, Duncan-Fuller Interiors, Birmingham, duncanfuller.com
Bed – Ferrell Mittman, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Ceiling Treatment – Teak
Chairs, Patterned – Holly Hunt, Pierre Frey
Fans – Minka Aire
Lamps, Bedside – The Urban Electric Co.
Ottoman – Holly Hunt
Tables, Bedside – Custom, Distinctive Custom Furniture, Oak Park
Ceiling Treatment – Teak
Chairs, Dining – A. Rudin
Chest – Ferrell Mittman, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – Sisal, Stark Carpet
Sofas, Striped – A. Rudin
Table, Coffee – Antique
Table, Dining – Custom, Bronze Base with Onyx Top, Andrew Owens Designs, Detroit
Chairs, Dining – Antique, Judy Frankel Antiques, Troy
Chandelier – Custom, Andrew Owens Designs, Troy
Rug – Sisal, Stark Carpet
Table, Dining – Custom, Cole Wagner Cabinetry, Rochester Hills
Tables, Half-Round Decorative – Antique
Buffet – Antique
Chandelier – Paul Ferrante
Chest – Antique
Ottoman (Armchair) – A. Rudin
Rug – Antique, Keivan Woven Arts
Sofas – A. Rudin
Table, Coffee – Custom, Andrew Owens Designs, Detroit
Tables, Occasional – Custom, Andrew Owens Designs, Detroit
Necklaces – Antique, Judy Frankel Antiques, Troy
Sconces – Custom, Andy Owens Designs, Detroit
Sculptures – “African Swords,” Judy Frankel Antiques, Troy
ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS
Contractor – Island Contracting & Remodeling Inc., Michael and David Bills, Tequesta, Fla.
Landscaping – D’Alessandro & Associates, Inc., Tom D’Alessandro, Jupiter, Fla.
Text By Jeanine Matlow, Photography by Steve Kovich