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Interior Designer Betsy Wentz Transforms a Home on Palm Beach's Ocean Block

By Caroline Perrott | December 17, 2019 |

When clients came to interior designer Betsy Wentz with their new Mediterranean Revival construction on the Ocean Block of Palm Beach, the possibilities were seemingly endless.


If there is one thing for which Palm Beach’s Ocean Block is known, it is the views. Only one block from the ocean, ease and accessibility are what most houses on the ocean block aim for. When a Pittsburgh-based couple found the perfect lot for their dream second home, the only thing standing in their way was the current structure—in complete disrepair. So as to still be able to enjoy the lot’s proximity and easy walkability to town, they decided to set their sights on a ground-up operation to optimize it. To achieve this vast undertaking, the client enlisted Architect, Tom Kirchhoff of Kirchhoff & Associates Architects, and Pittsburgh-based designer Betsy Wentz of Studio B, the latter of whom, having worked on their full-time residence in their mutual hometown, has a lovely history with the clients. “They were about halfway done with the construction and working with Tom when they hired me,” says Wentz. “I was able to have a hand in seeing it come together and, of course, had full control of the design, which is fun because you have a lot more control over the product.”

BW2.jpgThe family room features Mark Alexander curtains, an Ironware chandelier, a custom sofa in Grey Watkins fabric, Century Chairs covered in Zimmer + Rohde and Port Eliot chests.

The Mediterranean Revival-styled retreat had a clear owner-driven direction from the beginning, with the wife being inspired by the loggia, attention to detail and ocean-inspired color palette. “The loggia was the space that bridges from the outside and the pool area to the inside family room and kitchen. She wanted the doors to open up flat so it could all be one big space. That was her vision for this house, and she had always seen it that way,” explains Wentz. From early on, Wentz and the client named each room in the house so as to give it a personality and direction for the design. The expansive fabric vendor list—including Nina Campbell, Mark Alexander and China Seas—were coded like DNA and assigned to rooms, from the Cornflower Room to the Sea Glass Room, aligning each in style and feel. Although each space had a personality, the clients also wanted to incorporate a flow throughout the layout. “Enter, the color blue,” says Wentz. “I don’t believe there is a room that doesn’t have blue in it. The blues range from a very pale duck egg blue to a rich, deep indigo navy. It’s a ‘rhapsody in blue’ and the client’s favorite color.” Being in Palm Beach allows the client a whole new color palette, where they can flex different color muscles and incorporate the outdoors in. Flow continued in the form of detailed architectural decisions as well. “We used pecky and clear cypress wood throughout,” says Kirchhoff. “Cypress is a native florida wood, and I love to incorporate it in my local designs here, specifically in Mediterranean-style homes.” He also notes the Moroccan influences highlighted in the entry and master bathrooms: “I love working with Moroccan style because of the bold colors and handmade detail.”

BW1.jpgThe formal dining room is complete with custom chairs in Hill Brown fabric, Jane Churchill curtains and a Woodland Furniture table.

In the end, the clients nicknamed the home The Jewel Box, a nod to the meticulous detail that went into every stage of the project, as well as the art collection in the home, including works from neo-impressionist Albert Dubois and postimpressionist artist Charles Camoin. “The name really is a reflection of the process and all of our hard work together. The trust from the client and their involvement was what was most memorable about this project in particular,” says Wentz. “It is hard [to trust] when your are trying to do something as vast as they did, and, for that reason, it turned out beautifully.”

BW3.jpgUrban Electric chandeliers and antique oversize mirrors frame the space with a sectional in Perennials fabric, a dining bench in China Seas fabric.

Photography by: Nickolas Sargent