Text: Karen Carroll
Images courtesy of Amanda Lindroth
Southern Home (SH): We confess to being a little envious that you live in the Bahamas, have an apartment and shop in Palm Beach, and another boutique in Charleston. What draws you to live and decorate in coastal and resort communities?
Amanda Lindroth (AL): I grew up south of Palm Beach in Boca Raton, and it just never got out of my skin. Although I went to college in Boston and lived in London, Paris, and New York in my twenties—and those cities still have enormous appeal—I think I always knew I’d find my way back to the water and a tropical environment.
SH: Who has been your greatest stylistic influence?
AL: One hundred percent, my mother. She was a really stylish woman of the ’60s and ’70s—she was young in Florida with the short blonde hair, skinny white jeans, and boatneck shirts that were iconic of that moment. Her look translated to her homes, which were modern and monochromatic with sculptural furniture and white cotton-duck slipcovers. We had Belgian coir wall-to-wall carpeting, which was really prickly and horrible for children, but chic as could be. I learned everything from her about proportion and editing. My mother was not one to have extra stuff.
SH: That does sound incredibly chic, but not the look we associate with your own decorating. How do you describe your personal sense of style?
AL: I have a more indulgent manner in every aspect of life, which is not always such a good thing! I have the robust version of my mother’s aesthetic, and it has probably only gotten more so over time. I’m self-taught and always learning. My years in England had a huge influence. The English live the best in their houses because they’re about comfort, and there’s an unconscious decorating happening in many of their rooms that I think I’ve picked up. My decorating era is probably more Miss Marple in the ’40s and ’50s.
SH: You also have such a wonderful flair for color, which belies a childhood spent in monochromatic interiors. Do you have a favorite palette?
AL: I decorated with nothing but blue-and-white for years, but I’ve been very into green of late, and I like to pair it with pink or coral. We’re currently working on a house that is ruby with teal, so I guess we’re a bit all over the place with our palette. It amuses me that I’m now known for color. It’s definitely the part I had to learn, and it’s still often painful. I usually tackle it last and pretty carefully.
SH: Now that we know you tackle the color scheme at the end, where do you usually begin?
AL: I’m rigidly interested in how the architecture of the house is going to work out, the scale of the room, and how we’ll lay out the furniture. Give me a beautifully designed house with good proportions, and the rooms will decorate themselves. Well, almost.
SH: Have there been situations where you’ve worked around challenging architecture, rather than highlight it?
AL: Oh, absolutely. In the Bahamas and Florida in the ’60s and ’70s, everyone seemed to have an eight-foot-high ceiling with six-foot-high sliding glass doors, sometimes across the length of the room. That two feet of weird space in between is just awkward. We’ll drop matchstick blinds from the crown molding to the top of the windows or doors and freeze them there to trick your eye into believing the windows are taller. If it’s a sliding door, we’ll put the stack of curtains right over where the middle metal frames are, and all of a sudden, it looks like you have a pleasing fenestration rather than a long horizontal line.
SH: We’d love to know the story behind that fabulous mural in your Palm Beach living room.
AL: It’s funny, we found that apartment while we were sitting in a diner next to our Worth Avenue shop. We were flipping through a real estate magazine, even though I’d said I would be happy staying at the Colony Hotel forever. A stranger stopped by and said she had an apartment she’d love to show us, if we were looking, and we replied we weren’t serious. But we walked into what was essentially a white box with crazy 16-foot ceilings, and an hour later, we’d bought an apartment. I asked my friend, the artist Aldous Bertram, to paint a trompe l’oeil mural inspired by a watercolor Cecil Beaton did of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Williams in their chinoiserie-papered drawing room in Palm Beach. He created this whimsical interpretation, with a rococo overdoor from a grand English house he loves called Claydon. It’s absolutely magical.
SH: When you’re decorating a beach house, what allowances do you make for sand, salt, and wet swimsuits?
AL: I use performance fabrics wherever I can. But the joy of living at the beach is having houses with doors wide open and children in bikinis on the sofa. Why worry if someone has gotten sand on the hardwood floor? Let it scratch. It will look better and older anyway, right? When the wicker and rattan on my porch starts looking shabby or mildewed, I send it out to be painted “Oliver Messel green,” named for the famous set designer who designed and renovated a bunch of unbelievably charming houses in Barbados in the ’60s. My version is Benjamin Moore Southfield Green. Anything on its last legs gets a coat of it.
SH: We’ve heard you keep a list of finishing touches for your projects. Could you share what’s on it?
AL: With any house, but particularly a resort house where you go to get away from everyday stress, you want to feel like it has been loved and looked after completely. The list includes things like pencil cups, notepads, picture frames, wastepaper baskets, trays with linen napkins, orchids and orchid baskets, hurricane lamps and candles, a water carafe for the night table, current novels and magazines. I probably have 50 things to check off to ensure we’ve attended to every last detail.
SH: While you’re best known for island style, how do you approach a more urban or inland setting?
AL: We do have projects all around the country, but if you start where I do—with a furniture plan, scale, and a respect for the architecture—it really becomes more about a difference in materials. I concentrate on the sense of place wherever I am, and I am mindful about getting that right. For example, we’re currently working in San Francisco, which emotionally I feel is a formal city. Even though the house is for a young couple, we’re looking at beautiful 19th-century Russian chandeliers and antiques that have nothing to do with the blue Ikea chair we just used for a beach house in Eleuthera.
SH: Actually, we’re somewhat surprised to hear that Ikea is in your decorating arsenal!
AL: Oh, my favorite chair in the world is their little wicker chair called Agen. In the Bahamas everything has a high duty, so we often need to be thrifty. They also have great 2×3 dhurrie rugs with fringe. I’ll pick up a dozen in pink-and-white, and any time there’s a dog accident on the sisal, I’ll clean it up and throw one on top. I haven’t actually been in an Ikea in several years, but it’s such a happy place, and you get meatballs at the end.
SH: Your own line of furniture and accessories also has its particular brand of happy. What defines the collection?
AL: The DNA is the veranda of Hope Hill, my Lyford Cay home that sits high up on a cliff. We love to entertain on that veranda, and I started out by designing things we needed, like hurricane lamps and votives, rattan pagoda centerpieces, and napkins and smaller-sized placemats with patterns and colors that can be mixed and matched. Last year we added wicker furniture. People sometimes ask what advice I’d give a hostess, and I always say serve nice enough food, but turn down the lights, open the windows, and let in some air. Make the house feel sexy and exciting to be in. I hope our collection embodies that spirit.