Text: Lauren Gentry Walker
Photos: Lori Hamilton
When a couple living in the Midwest purchased a home within a highly sought-after neighborhood in Naples, Florida, they knew they would need the help of an interior designer to give it the look and feel they dreamed of. Bethany O’Neil was recommended to them by their realtor, and the project began before the clients had even seen the home in person. The large estate—originally built in the area’s popular Mediterranean style—had already been remodeled several times, and the previous owners removed most of the ornate, Tuscan details. Aside from redesigning it to fit their needs, the down-to-earth homeowners only had one major requirement for the designer: Do not make any part of the home feel typically coastal.
“My clients are very detail oriented and understood the importance of not rushing the process,” says O’Neil. “They were willing to be patient and understood that this project would take time.” Soon after the purchase of their Florida house, the couple decided to sell their home in the Midwest and make the new estate their main residence. O’Neil then had the opportunity to pick and choose from their existing pieces and repurpose them to fit their new home. “You can so easily reframe or recover things and make them perfect for a new house,” she says. “Then the items really have meaning and soul.”
Following the “no coastal” request, O’Neil worked to give the home the updated traditional style the homeowners loved by using rich, dark colors along with soft fabrics and a little bit of bling. “When they said they didn’t want coastal, I knew exactly what to do,” she says. “No beachy trinkets or beachside flavor, and a comfortable atmosphere that could be ready at all times for entertaining guests was key.”
One of the first major changes to the interiors was the fireplace in the great room. The original had black granite and a tiny fireplace box that was raised off the floor, which was not proportional to the huge space. O’Neil also selected artwork from Naples artist Rene Conti—beach scenes and landscapes that paid homage to the area without coming across as beachy—and hung them over the fireplace and above the buffets on each side.
In the family room, the designer left the original mahogany ceiling but painted the bookcases and wallpapered the backs to create depth. “It was so dark and felt like a cave after coming in from the foyer and great room, which are bathed in light,” she says. “The lighting in this home is truly amazing.” The homeowners were also partial to green rather than blue, gray, or white, so O’Neil used soft greens and fun accessories that worked beautifully with the surrounding landscaping. “It really brought the inside and outside together as one,” she says. To give the home a gentle nod to Florida, O’Neil also chose to incorporate some wicker-type pieces.
The dining room takes an interesting departure from the rest of the home. After a grasscloth wallcovering proved to be the wrong fit for the space, O’Neil fell in love with a floral wallpaper. “I’m not typically a floral person, but this paper just caught my eye—the homeowner loved it, too,” she says. “It was a neat way of having a happy accident, because we tried to make the dining room more modern, but it worked so much better as a traditional room.” A starfish-shaped light fixture hangs above the classic table and chairs and features large pieces of quartz.
The exterior of the home was also given a recent facelift. Every window was replaced, and all of the lighting was updated with Ralph Lauren lanterns. “While the owners wanted a party-ready home, comfort was really their main priority,” says O’Neil. “They wanted to be able to use each space and enjoy simple, daily pleasures. I think we really achieved that while still giving them a stunning, intentionally designed home.”