Palm Beach, FL
As Betsy Shiverick recalls, “We kept driving by it. The house was in terrible shape, but it’s such a noble, iconic treasure.” And she had no doubt that Fairfax & Sammons — equally adept at classical-style new designs and sensitive updates to historic properties — was the right choice to undertake the project.
Originally designed by Marion Sims Wyeth in the 1920s, our design method began with understanding the architect’s intent, a sense gathered upon a first walkthrough of the house. We gained back the original character of its Mediterranean Revival-style, added interpretations, and reversed anachronistic additions like the contemporary, open-concept living area. The flow of the property is reconfigured, which allows for a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor rooms. Many of the previous renovations were wiped away or improved upon. A new stucco wall was added along the street with a hand-wrought iron gate to create a more solidified front entry. The original front door and interior doors, with the same design, are all carefully restored to their authentic patina. The coffered ceilings repeated throughout the first floor were in great disrepair, and to match the aesthetic of the restored doors, they are also brought back to their original patina. This effect brightens the rooms and highlights the true beauty of the pecky cypress wood, especially against the carved ceiling brackets. Plaster recessed arches above the doorways repeat throughout the house interior for continuity and proportion. The once-sunken courtyard is raised to the first-floor level, and we designed a loggia above with an outdoor shower. The hand-carved balustrades on the loggia, balconies, and terraces were carefully restored. A new fountain crowns the courtyard keeping in mind the history of this remarkable place.