Picking favorites can be a hit-or-miss proposition, especially in games with uncertain outcomes, like gambling and horse racing. In home design, however, showing a little favoritism can go a long way.
When asked what decorative accouterment she sets higher than the rest, Olga Adler doesn’t mince her words.
“Light fixtures,” she says. “A great light fixture can make a room.”
Standing inside her client’s sun-spackled living room in Delray Beach, Adler, a well-known Westport, Connecticut, interior designer who opened her Palm Beach County outpost, Maresol Interiors, in 2017, motions to a cluster of silvery orbs dangling overhead. Rather than a single pendant, she suspended three together in varying lengths. The net result simultaneously dazzles and floats the eye toward the entrance hall’s vaulted ceiling.
Nestled alongside the bioethanol fireplace, she grouped a pair of upholstered sofas around a trio of chrome tables that morph into an ultra-modern coffee table when fitted together. The Masland Studio hand-knotted wool and silk area rug was selected for its vintage vibe.
“That’s how we break in the new,” Adler explains, “with pieces that are more established and lived-in looking.”
In the foyer, a gold-glazed, spiky wooden mirror suffused with subtle ethnicity stands guard over an iron x-leg framed console table with a faux shagreen top. Piecing together antipodal elements offers a pop of surprise when guests walk in.
“I’m always mixing things to make them a little more curious,” she says.
Built by Mahoney Homes in 2016, the two-story, 6,527-square-foot spec house already had paneling, millwork and flooring in place, so Adler added a sensorial heartbeat with craftsman-made furnishings and vibrant artworks by Delray Beach shutterbug Debra Somerville.
The homeowner, a high-powered, commercial real estate investor, had originally hired Adler to freshen up the interiors in his Greenwich, Connecticut, home. Impressed by her work, a triumph of neutrals and textures, they reconnected again when he had settled on a contemporary property designed by famed architect Randall Stofft near Delray Beach’s Seagate Beach Club.
“I thought Olga’s style would be really well-suited for Florida and look at the result,” he says, motioning to the grouping of statement pieces around his home office, such as a stainless steel desk with a brown lizard-embossed leather top and an Eames executive chair Adler scooped up from Design Within Reach in West Palm Beach.
Giving her the blessing of free reign, the homeowner had only four requests: that the home feel clean and airy; imbue a coastal, beach-house style; be conducive for hosting large gatherings and entertaining family and friends; and prove to be pet-friendly. He also wanted the entire project completed in three months.
Nowhere does this home feel more in sync than on the covered patio and pool deck, where guests can sun worship or cool off in the pool’s cerulean depths. Furnishings like a wicker daybed with an open-weave canopy and a weathered teak sofa and armchairs with bright throw pillows were purposely kept sparse, so visitors wouldn’t feel impeded from walking around and mingling.
Back inside, the crisp aesthetic is coupled with tactile, indoor-outdoor Holly Hunt fabrics that pull in a vibrant palette of blues and greens from the great outdoors.
Adler punctuated the dining room with a 7-foot teak veneer table and teal-colored side chairs, both from Bernhardt Interiors, to accommodate gastronomic get-togethers of any size. The casual, dine-in kitchen, previously furnished with marble countertops, custom, grain wood and lacquer cabinetry, a glass and porcelain wood look tile backsplash, custom wine built-ins, and Thermador appliances, was given new glass light fixtures and adjustable leather stools in a creamy tone for a relaxed feel.
In the family room, which flows seamlessly into the kitchen and dining room, she weaved in a Palecek lava coffee table and two asymmetrical armchairs for a whimsical touch. A Belgian track arm U-chaise sectional from Restoration Hardware makes an irresistible choice for kicking back and watching TV or enjoying a siesta after a long afternoon in the sun.
One of the home’s most striking light displays hangs above the underlit wood and glass-paneled staircase that connects to the second floor. At the top of the landing, a gallery-like loft space leads to three bedrooms and a bonus room the homeowner uses as a gym.
In the master bedroom, Adler cobbled a tranquil and Zen-like retreat with only a few choice furnishings, a departure from the homeowner’s Connecticut home which, Adler says, is “much more full of stuff.” Floor-to-ceiling drapes in a warm herringbone pattern and reminiscent of African patchwork, bring a masculine touch and a seismic gild-finished pendant holds court above a tailored, midcentury-inspired sleigh bed. Remote-controlled shades, featured throughout the home, were also installed. The room is gorgeous by day, but the designer’s favorite part comes after the sun goes down. She says, “The entire room is cast in this soft, dreamy glow.” Chrome and crystal table lamps and rich walnut side tables hold personal effects and the arbitrary doggy treat. A sliding glass door opens to an outdoor, pool-facing patio set with a deep seat sofa in all-weather wicker and a concrete table molded in the likeness of a teak root.
For Olga, luxury and comfort are king.
“There’s no luxury without comfort,” she stresses. “And if it’s not comfortable, then don’t call it a luxurious home.”
To prove her point, she holds up a large bed pillow wrapped in a tactile fabric from Pierre Frey that feels softer than a baby’s bottom and sells for $450 a yard. But not everything in her homes is expensive.
“I’m always mixing a little bit of retail with a little bit of custom and a little bit of super-custom,” she says.
For Adler, it all boils down to designing a space that feels genuine, comfortable and serene.
Across from the master, a pair of bedrooms function as cozy escapes for drop-in visitors and invited guests. Functional pieces like oatmeal-colored headboards with matching toss pillows are matched with Westin’s famous Heavenly Beds and paired with rectilinear grasscloth nightstands from Bungalow 5 in shades of navy and white.
The designer faced a serious design dilemma when a wall in the guest bedroom that faced the outdoor deck sported a window in the exact place she wanted to place the bed. “It was really peeving me off because I’m very symmetrical,” she recalls, laughing. “I knew the bed had to go there and you had this window that was kind of, smack!, right there.”
She solved the problem by hanging a lined version of the sheer fabric she hung on another window in the room. “I created a wall of fabric,” she says. “Now it has this beautiful softness and it’s more feminine.”
On another wall, she placed an acrylic console from CB2 that serves as a vanity or a desk. An antique mirror, which once hung in the homeowner’s childhood home, is painted with fish and other sea life in rich shades of blue, yellow and pink. “We wanted to showcase it as a small homage to his history and family,” Adler says. For symmetry, she fronted a neighboring wall with a coastal photograph by Debra Somerville in coinciding casts.
The second bedroom boasts a Juliet balcony with inviting viewpoints of the manicured front lawn below and a neighboring property across the street.
“I really love that this [balcony] overlooks the street,” she says. “It doesn’t bother me that it’s kind of exposed.”
Quirky fish profiles adorn the wall behind the bed and framed John Speed maps, a gift to the homeowner from his grandfather, hang in an impromptu sitting area tucked in the corner.
After three months, the home was finished. “It had everything he could want, from dishes to bath towels,” Adler remembers. “I don’t think he realized how ready it was going to be until he arrived with his suitcase. It was ‘toothbrush-ready.’ All he had to do was unpack and go to bed.”
Asked which room he favors most, the client doesn’t miss a beat. “Everything,” he says. “And the neighborhood’s great and far enough away from Atlantic Avenue’s craziness. I wake up with a smile on my face every day.”