Recently published, Palm Beach Panache, by inveterate design fashionista, Carolina (pronounced, Caro-lee-na) Fernandez, plunges headlong into a world few get to see. Behind the gates and curving drives leading up to those fine homes bordering the ubiquitous Florida inter-coastal waterways, there are treasures of design and good taste meant for only the most discerning eye. But, Fernandez has managed to pierce the coveted privacy veil, inviting her readers into those hallowed realms with dozens of beautiful photographs and her probing narrative style. Inspired by her own investment in Sunshine State property, as well as shaping attractive living environments for her own family, based in New England, the author ventured into the Palm Beach community to learn about and share her observations of the unique, ‘Palm Beach style.’ xxxxx
Skillfully drawing on three elements found in abundance in southern climes—sun, sea and air—Fernandez deconstructs the interior design features of Palm Beach living spaces, providing the reader with a kind of ‘how-to’ guide for achieving those same elegantly-layered results. Cleverly, she guides us through and around some of those high-priced roadblocks that would limit many, offering off-the-shelf and creative design alternatives to achieve similar sophisticated outcomes. If you sense a road trip coming in her suggestions, you’re right. Fernandez takes us out into the galleries, shops and retail venues where an inspired and knowledgeable eye can acquire the components for assembling a dazzling living room, den or patio statement.
Left: Antique door salvaged from Brooklyn building leads to owner’s West Palm Beach home. All photos: Alissa Dragun.
Risk and reward are at the center of Fernandez’s mantra. Venturing into the world of interior design is not for the faint of heart, particularly without the native-born instincts. But, for the author, her carefully framed illustrations (thanks to the camera work of photographer, Alissa Dragun) are worth a thousand words, as she patiently guides the reader through the steps necessary to achieve a desired ‘look.’
Right: Vintage is re-imagined by Tracy DeRamus on the sales floor of Circa Who, Northwood, Florida.
A dominant theme in our home surroundings, Fernandez asserts, is often because of memories from childhood. This, and other emotional cues can serve as a starting point for achieving a finished design. But, while she stresses this link to the past, she cautions the reader not to be guided by pure emotion, alone. The creation a contemporary Palm Beach panache home, in the author’s view, is best achieved by embracing three dominant design influences—all paradoxically from previous centuries. The aesthetics of Mid-century Modern, Lilly Pulitzer-inspired colors and patterns, and French or Parisian Chic can flow together when carefully and meaningfully blended by a thoughtful and inspired homeowner.
Left: White ceramic accessories, planters, succulents, all-weather fabrics and more, all at West Palm Beach’s Floral Emporium.
And here, Palm Beach Panache serves as an excellent guide, like the street map to a visitor on foreign shores. Helpfully divided into sections, she notes that her text, images and captions should all carry equal weight for the reader, providing carefully segmented chapters on defining, developing and expressing design objectives. The tone of Fernandez’s language repeatedly drives home a point: she is there to help the reader, like a caring coach on the sidelines hoping key lessons learned can be imparted from a distance; but also knowing she can’t be directly involved in the game. The coup de gras in her detailed 180-page, full color text is the Resources section, where Palm-Beach-based vendors, retailers and other resources mentioned in the text are carefully identified. Everything from thrift shops to French antique dealers; silver to shells are spelled out.
Right: William Halliday, Twist (2007), polished aluminum, 54″ tall. At Arthouse 429.
Carolina Fernandez is a student of the art of the Beautiful. Her book, and her life in this magical place called Palm Beach, has been a journey to locate that elusive quality called ‘beauty’ and share it with her readers. Palm Beach Panache is not so much the story of a finished product as it is a diary about that journey. It offers a guiding hand of informative images and advice to aid in the reader’s own quest of discovery, regardless of where they might live or choose to begin that search.
By Richard Friswell, Managing Editor
‘Palm Beach Panache: Infusing island style with serendipitous and re-imagined finds’
By Carolina Fernandez; Photos by Alissa Dragun
180 pages, nearly 300 color illustrations, $49.95
Available in print and Kindle ($11.49) through Amazon here