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HomeWest Palm Beach, FLWorth It: Defining Palm Beach Style

Worth It: Defining Palm Beach Style


Video by Daniel Fortune

Palm Beach is on a short list of worldwide locations that need no introduction. The town exudes a style that is almost sensory. If you close your eyes and think of Palm Beach, a dappling of bright colors, tropically kissed breezes, and the background music of the Atlantic’s tumbling surf may come to mind. But unlike hearing the ocean roar in a conch shell, it can be difficult to encapsulate Palm Beach style.  

It helps to look back to the earliest days of Palm Beach’s development. In 1893, Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler described Palm Beach as a “veritable paradise.” Flagler envisioned a luxury resort community accessible by train; by 1894, his Florida East Coast Railway was depositing wealthy passengers from frozen Northern cities to his famous Hotel Royal Poinciana.

Palm Beach interiors
Palm Beach interiors.

Drawing inspiration from late-nineteenth-century resort-town opulence, modern-day interior designers, stylists, and tastemakers alike are constantly moving the ball forward. Each new show house brings a fresh take on a style we have all come to love, using many of the fundamental ingredients that we have turned to for more than a century. 

Interior designers such as Amanda Doering have embraced contemporary Palm Beach style
Interior designers such as Amanda Doering have embraced contemporary Palm Beach style.

Tropical motifs and vivid hues that emulate our surroundings are a must. Living in indoor-outdoor spaces in a fluid and easy way is a signature of Palm Beach style; this includes the use of rattan and bamboo furniture and accessories, palm leaves, and a plethora of orchids. 

No coastal town is without nautical motifs and influences from lands across the sea. Thanks to the contributions of architect Addison Mizner and his Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival styles, the Palm Beach look is now characterized by a unique blending of splendid accessories. Here, you may find fabrics with knotted nautical embellishments, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Hispano Moresque pottery, and Venetian glass accessories seamlessly incorporated into a single living space. 

Fabrics in soft pastels and wallpapers featuring chinoiserie designs—a reference to the European interpretation of Chinese art that became popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—bleed into our current aesthetic. These designs frequently feature decorative elements and imagery inspired by Asian art and life (think: brightly lacquered lanterns, pagodas, and Imari porcelain). Chintz, a type of fabric known for its colorful, repeating floral patterns or tropical motifs, often adorns upholstered furniture. Antique furnishings mingle with modern and contemporary art and sculpture in a laid-back yet refined way. 

Historic landmarks like the Flagler Museum exemplify the island’s Gilded Age grandeur
Historic landmarks like the Flagler Museum exemplify the island’s Gilded Age grandeur.

In Palm Beach, you are never far from inspiration. When acquiring pieces for your own home, search for items that reflect our island environment and history in an authentic way.

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