Taste is always a tricky topic—subjective, and relative. As regular readers know, it is a subject that endlessly fascinates me–when should one be wild, when should one leave well enough alone, when do you break the rules, when do you follow them? Well, as I said, it’s subjective. Years ago, when I was misspending some of my misspent youth in Palm Beach, this was a house that I particularly admired. While it might not give the Via Mizner competition, I thought it was one of the most interesting new houses on the island I’m sorry now that I didn’t take many more pictures when I had the opportunity. I used .to be very restrained with my camera. Unlike with my opinions.
The house is on an in-town lot, maybe three hundred feet from the ocean in the shadow of a giant condominium complex on South Ocean Blvd.. It flew in the face of the prevailing Palm Beach aesthetic of high show and pastel painted stucco. It was original, and it was brave.
This garage is all one sees from the street—the smallish house is entered from the side, and runs shotgun to a living room and loggia overlooking a pool. Although the design inspiration was Italian—-mutual friends told me that the then owner had modeled this garage at the front of the house, with its orange and black chevron patterned door and sundial set in a pediment, after similar features on his villa in Italy. The stucco, stained, not painted, a deeply pigmented red, was so right in the tropical light, and so rich of surface that it made a mockery of all its larger, more ambitious and more ordinary pastel neighbors. Within the courtyard, one might as well have been in Tangier.
Nowadays the house has different owners. The garage door is white, the tinted tucco a covered with flat lifeless coat of peaches and cream paint. As happens so often, conventional and ordinary have won. People are so afraid.