Brown Davis designed the banquette, dining table and 1940s Moderne-style chairs. The painting is by Frank Stella.
Frosted-glass doors can close off the kitchen.
Abstract paintings by Jim Dine and Robert Motherwell grace the living room.
The designers let the view play a central role in the master bedroom.
A clean-lined, modern master bath complements the master bedroom.

Bespoke Style

Modern art and sleek, custom furnishings create a one-of-a-kind vacation home in Palm Beach, Florida

Eighteen years ago, a Washingtonian wandered into the one-time Brown Davis boutique in Georgetown seeking the perfect mirror for her drawing room. She was successful on several fronts: Not only did she find what she was looking for, but she also struck up an instant friendship with principals Rob Brown and Todd Davis, who would eventually complete the design of her DC residence, her apartment in Palm Beach’s venerable Biltmore and even her two sons’ houses. 

So when she and her husband recently purchased a larger, newly renovated apartment in the Biltmore, it was a given that they would call upon Brown and Davis, who now have studios in DC and Miami Beach. Drawn to the two-bedroom residence for its light and airy interiors and majestic views of the Intracoastal Waterway, the couple wanted a modern ambience in their new getaway. As Rob Brown explains, “They love this open concept, especially because they don’t have that in their large and formal house in DC. They wanted a departure that reflected a sense of place.”

Fortunately, the new space required very little in terms of structural improvement. The designers refined the crown molding and created frosted-glass doors that close the kitchen off to the adjacent living space in the event of a formal dinner party. 

Both discerning art collectors, the couple knew that a simple background would enable their art to take center stage. Brown and Davis honed in on a soft beige palette to complement the existing marble floors and began to design furniture that reflected a refined, Mid-Century style. “Everything was custom-designed for the space,” says Brown. “We wanted to create something that appeared to be collected rather than all ordered up. This is typical of all our projects—each is truly bespoke.”

An elegant sectional, a pair of leather chairs and a custom rug inspired by a Vogue fashion spread ground the main seating area. On the opposite side of the room, a trim banquette and custom table with a lacquered steel-gray top, both designed by Brown Davis, are suitable for dining as well as playing cards or working on a laptop. A gray shagreen chest ties the areas together.

“This marriage of soft grays and beiges allows the art to be the real star,” says Brown. The owner combed auctions and galleries, selecting pieces by Jim Dine, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella and others that bring a museum-like quality to the space. 

But despite the provenance of the art, the home is all about comfort. “Even though we wanted it to be very smart-looking, everything had to be comfortable and work for us,” says the homeowner. In the master bedroom, a desk takes full advantage of the water view. Two cozy armchairs invite the couple to relax with a book, or simply gaze out at the Palm Beach skyline. 

After collaborating for so many years, it did not take Brown and Davis long to nail the milieu that would best suit their clients in their new vacation home. “The interiors, while they reflect our guidance, have to be interiors that the residents look great in,” says Brown. “Our client is an Armani lady. There’s editing and restraint and the bare essence of form. It’s always very elegant. A beautiful, bold stroke and you’re done.” 

INTERIOR DESIGN: ROB BROWN and TODD DAVIS, Brown Davis Interiors Inc., Washington, DC, and Miami Beach, Florida. PHOTOGRAPHY: KIM SERGENT, Palm Beach Springs, Florida.