Home Takes Inspiration From Lilly Pulitzer

Anna Anderson’s home takes inspiration from Lilly Pulitzer’s fun and irreverent Palm Beach togs.

Turquoise, lime, hot pink, and poppy red. No shrinking violets live here. “Anna has the personality and the gumption to use bright colors. Most people don’t,” says decorator Ann Fox, who helped transform a beige, 1940s period house in Greenway Parks into the happy home Anna Anderson craved. Recently single, Anderson wanted a fresh start in her newly purchased house, and what better way to signify change than with bold colors and big patterns? And who better to carry it out than designer Ann Fox, who for 20 years has capitalized on the most classic of American styles, preppy and Shabby Chic, at her Lovers Lane store, Room Service by Ann Fox. “I worked at Ralph Lauren’s home collection for years,” Fox says. “That really gave me my sense of style. It was the American classic look. I just put a modern spin to it.”

(above left) Anderson’s sunroom, upholstered in bright Sunbrella fabrics, is where the family gathers to relax. Vintage terra-cotta floors, the Warhol-inspired portrait of the children, and hot pink chenille are some of the touches that give the room a sense of fun and whimsy. (above right) Ann Fox purchased 50 rolls of Kelly Wearstler for Decorators Walk wallpaper in a bold chartreuse treillage pattern to cover the entry, stairwell, and upstairs landing.

The whole big, colorful idea got started after Anderson and Fox spotted some chartreuse wallpaper designed by bad girl designer Kelly Wearstler. Anderson loves patterned wallpaper, so Fox put it in the entry and along the stairs to set the tone. Wearstler may be vintage Hollywood, but her roots are in the classics. “The pattern has a Chippendale feel, which means a color like chartreuse can work in such a traditional house,” she says.

(above left) The bright green jade glass tile that lines the shower of daughter Claire’s bathroom is paired with a traditional toile wallpaper updated in a bold color, and glass-beaded trim accents the shower curtain. (above right) The living room is a study in chocolate, lime, and blue. Bold striped curtains with pom-pom detailing and mahogany-framed armchairs add richness to the room.

Used in small amounts throughout, the sharp green unifies all the rooms, despite the variety of rambunctious hues. “Chartreuse actually becomes a cohesive neutral because every room has some relationship to that color,” says Fox, who turned to Robert Rutherford to help select intricate drapery trim to pair with the bright colors and bold patterns. “Trim is very traditional, but we found fun colors to update things. Each room has curtains with different details,” including painted wood beads in daughter Claire’s room and raffia fringe in the sunroom.

(above left) The dining room table displays some of Anderson’s Staffordshire and majolica collections that influenced the color and style of the room. The gold, rose, and green wallpaper, and kiwi and geranium striped curtains (hung on the horizontal for a twist) pair with the colors of the majolica. (above right) The living room was inspired by Anderson’s sense of fashion. Blue and white matelassé upholstery on the sofa is set against the robin’s egg walls with orange accents throughout. The silver-leafed lamp with branch base, aged mirrored coffee table, and hydrangea botanical prints tie the room together.

Most of Anderson’s upholstered furniture already had good bones, so they simply recovered it. “The frames were traditional, but we put wilder fabrics on them,” says Fox, who took cues from her client’s wardrobe and love of color when choosing upholstery. “Anna’s look is casual and immaculate, but always with a big shot of color.” The lime and blue-green bouclé armchairs in the living room look like a pretty spring Chanel suit, and the blue and white matelassé on the sofa is reminiscent of dressmaker fabrics. The luxurious, hand-knit carpeting in Anderson’s bedroom “looks and feels like a Ralph Lauren sweater,” Fox says.

(above left) Schumacher wallpaper done in an old wire fencing pattern dresses up Anderson’s home office. Geometric patterns pair with soft angles. Room Service by Ann Fox’s creative director, Kay Chefchis, designed the intricate ribbon and antique pin bulletin board. The chandelier is pearl over black iron with crystal detailing. (above right) Everyday items become part of the color scheme with Anderson’s gift-wrap corner in her office. “An office doesn’t have to be boring,” Fox says. “It should have color.”

All of Anderson’s favorite colors—pinks, oranges, and greens—come together in a joyous burst in the sunroom, which had previously been a dowdy enclave marred by old carpeting. Architect and homebuilder of Underwood Construction, Randall Underwood, who is married to Fox, blasted the floors down to the dirt and installed antique terra-cotta tiles. He also raised the height of the doorways for a more open feel and to give the illusion of taller ceilings (a trick he employed throughout the house). Durable, Palm Beach-inspired Sunbrella fabrics were used on the furniture and around the windows. Because the room is often drenched with sunlight, Fox knew the room could handle a barrage of bright colors and patterns. The trick to creating whimsy over chaos is to vary the scale of the patterns that you mix, she advises. Lilly Pulitzer would approve.

Anderson needed her master bedroom to be a peaceful oasis. Fox responded with icy blue colors, soft accents, and carpet that feels like a hand-knit sweater. The Bella Note bedding and custom silk pillows complete the vibe.

From Grapefruits to Garments: Lilly Pulitzer Splashes Her Designs with Color

Lilly Pulitzer’s famous colorful shift dresses got their start in a surprisingly prosaic way: as the stain-proof uniform for her juice stand. In 1950 the New England-educated daughter of a New York socialite family eloped with Florida citrus grower Peter Pulitzer, grandson of the eponymous prize’s founder. Together they made their home in Palm Beach, Fla. When Lilly found herself in need of a project, she opened a juice stand with produce from her husband’s groves, just off Worth Avenue. While the juice stand was a success, squeezing all those lemons and limes was a detriment to her clothing. To disguise the stains, she sought a simple cotton dress in a bright pattern, and a classic was born. Soon customers were more interested in her dresses than her juices, and she began selling them at the stand, eventually abandoning grapefruits for garments. And when Jackie Kennedy, a friend and schoolmate of Lilly’s, appeared in one of the shift dresses in Life magazine, the “Lillys” became a symbol of Palm Beach preppy style. The signature pinks and greens evolved into a hallmark of relaxed affluence.

The Lilly Pulitzer stores shuttered in 1984 with Lilly’s retirement, but its popularity resurged with its 1993 reopening. The line, sold nationwide in department stores and Lilly Pulitzer boutiques, now includes men’s apparel and a home collection. As for Lilly herself, she’s still in Palm Beach with her family, where it all began.—Meg Watkins


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