A French Design with Southern Comforts

Inspired by French designs and Southern comforts, Leta Austin Foster transforms a 1930s home by the sea.

A classic 1930s Jupiter Island house with an ocean view, an ideal floor plan, and lovely windows is primed for a makeover. Palm Beach decorating doyenne Leta Austin Foster knows just what it needs to go from nice to knockout. Besides her list of coveted decorative painters and craftsmen and an astute architect in tow, Foster has a bonus—her clients’ fabulous collection of French and English antiques. From the trellis paint treatments in one of the living spaces to the hand-painted wallpaper panels in the dining room, this is a home that always delights with never a dull moment. “The house was already really wonderful from an architectural standpoint,” explains Foster. “We just added to it, taking what was there and making it a little more beautiful.” Additions included built-in bookcases, detailed mouldings, pocket doors, and wall panels.

Then there are the changes that have nothing to do with structure but are all about style. Guests entering the foyer are greeted by a bit of a circus—but not the rowdy kind. Foster commissioned master Zenon Toczek to paint the ceiling to resemble a tent, in a vermilion shade. “There are four sets of doors in the foyer, so the tent pulls your eye up in a different and more engaging direction,” says Foster. “Plus it lets you know you have arrived!” Toczek also painted trellis and shell motifs in one of the living spaces and clouds on the ceiling in another. The eye travels around the rooms with engagement at every turn. In the dining area, the visual feast continues with hand-painted chinoiserie Gracie wallpaper panels. “I love using this type wallpaper. Sometimes when you have it all over, the room can feel too closed in. We wanted this home to feel light and airy at everywhere,” says Foster.

“The house was already really wonderful from an architectural standpoint. We just added to it, taking what was there and making it a little more beautiful.” —Leta Austin Foster

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