A Palm Beach couple tackles the renovation of a landmark 1938 home on Peruvian Avenue and teaches us a lesson in restoration in the process.
The nautical references (from the porthole on the front door to the railing on the ceiling) of designer Danielle Rollins and businessman Tom D’Agostino Jr.’s guest home are impossible to miss upon first glance.
Hands-on is the only way to describe interior designer Danielle Rollins and businessman Tom D’Agostino Jr.’s approach to home renovation. But, as they see it, how else would one go about the painstaking restoration of a 1938 art deco house (designated a landmark in 1994) by the late architect Belford Shoumate in the middle of a global pandemic?
The property on Palm Beach’s Peruvian Avenue (bought sight unseen by D’Agostino Jr.) was severely neglected, but its nautical lines and numerous architectural details were too tempting to resist.
“Tom and I both have a passion for renovation and redoing spaces,” says Rollins, “so when he told me he had purchased it, we began poring over art deco books researching the architect and his other properties.”
Art deco architectural details like the circles on the stairway that leads to the roof deck were all carefully restored.
an outdoor living room with furniture designed by Danielle Rollins with Sunbrella cushions
Once they took possession of the address in February, the renovation of what’s now their guest home for friends and family began. D’Agostino Jr.’s blood, sweat and tears can be seen everywhere on the exterior. A passionate sailor, he worked meticulously to ensure the aesthetic references to yachting remained. He carefully restored the five circles (an art deco reference to industrialization) that adorn the stairway leading to the roof deck to ensure they looked like new. On said roof deck, in addition to various seating areas for alfresco entertaining, he insisted on a putting green for impromptu golf matches during parties.
And then there was the pool. “That swimming pool is an architectural marvel,” says Rollins. “It was originally a saltwater pool that was fed with brass pipes that went to the ocean. Tom crawled under the space and managed to straighten everything out so it functions like it used to.” Set between a wall and the actual home, the positioning of the pool allows for anyone in the house to open certain windows and stick their hands in the water. “That’s mind-blowing to me,” says the designer. “You could never build something like that today given all the code restrictions we now have.”
The pool is original to the property and is flanked by a wall and the house itself.
The roof deck is a popular spot for entertaining.
Inside, the two adhered to their philosophy of green design—not by purchasing from sustainable brands and bringing new materials in, but rather by repurposing and restoring what was already in the home. “I learned construction from my grandfather and uncles,” says D’Agostino Jr. “Keeping things that are found within the house and reusing them keeps a continuity of history.” To that end, the home’s original art deco nickel hardware was cleaned and polished to give it new life. Doors were all fixed and moved around in certain instances, so new ones were not required. And the living room’s original fireplace was replastered and refreshed with Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace paint to make its details pop.
The home’s original fireplace was restored to prime condition and is flanked by nautical prints.
In terms of interior design, Rollins decided less was more and opted to let the bold architectural aesthetics speak for themselves. “We wanted the house to feel young and fresh, with a casual classic vibe,” she says. “We stuck to natural elements like rattan wicker and the colors of the ocean, which is at the end of the block.”
The low-key, maritime essence is palpable throughout. Flanking the aforementioned fireplace are prints of sailboats from past America’s Cup tournaments. In the dining room, navy director-style chairs (which reminded Rollins of boat furniture) surround an antique table with a wood base that resembles a helm. A long hallway where the bedrooms are located features light recesses reconfigured to look like portholes. In the airy bedroom, sisal and grass cloth textures and coral-colored side tables keep the look unfussy. The kitchen reveals yet more of D’Agostino Jr.’s DIY attitude with a custom island made from teak that he constructed himself, something Rollins says has become somewhat of their signature when they tackle home projects together. The overall effect in the residence is welcoming, a beach house for modern tastes.
The kitchen features a custom island, as well as dining stools and pendant fixtures from Serena & Lily. On the wall is a framed scarf by Hermès.
“It really was a labor of love, but I think all undertakings like this are,” says Rollins. “You have to totally fall in love with the house and realize you are just a temporary caretaker doing your part to give something a new life. It’s preserving history.”
homeowners Tom D’Agostino Jr. and Danielle Rollins
Photography by: Design photography by Carmel Brantley
Portrait by Tara Hauk