Three women turn traditional home into sleek retreat
BY MARY ANN KOENIG
A need, interest and desire — fueled by a casual conversation and finally a cold call — would result in the complete reimagining of a home in PGA in Port St. Lucie.
Homeowner Jeri Wilson, originally from New Jersey, still owns a home in the town where she grew up. A teacher and high school counselor in Allentown, New Jersey, for 28 years, she’s retired here and is now a Florida resident.
The idea of remodeling her PGA home came after it suffered water damage in the laundry room while she was away at her New Jersey home. A few soggy floors and stained walls would become the catalysts for her renovation project.
At first, Wilson thought it would be a bit of paint, a kitchen refresh and an updated laundry room. But three years — and innumerable decisions and choices later — the entire interior of her house has been redone with the cooperation, expertise and sharp design sense of two other women.
The general contractor on the project was Yvonne Pereira-Dudley of Villadelta Construction. And the interior designer was Karen Kane, whom Wilson’s neighbors had recommended. Without having seen a specific design project Kane had completed, Wilson called her out of the blue with the small amount of work in mind. Wilson had met Pereira-Dudley at a gathering for another project. The trio then embarked on a multifaceted venture that resulted in a sleek, modern redo of a traditional home.
EVERY LITTLE DETAIL
Homeowner, designer, and contractor would work together choosing colors, patterns, fabrics and window treatments. Kane, who’s a dealer for Hunter Douglas, contributed the practicality of window coverings then added the beauty of detailed accessories to accent them.
Pereira-Dudley, with myriad sources and subcontractors, made sure Wilson would have choices that matched her desired features. Cabinets, stone options and flooring all required research; Pereira-Dudley delivered. She’s been in the business for 30 years, a fourth-generation contractor whose father, Aurelio, started the business. “Construction is in my DNA,” she says. And she makes certain to listen to the homeowner’s vision. “[Jeri] was saying she wanted bold or different, and that’s our specialty.”
Kane was also very in tune with Wilson’s true taste. Even though the original furnishings were traditional, Kane says, “She had her art.” One piece was a large, deco-inspired giclee print of a woman in a chemise with a cubist cityscape in the background. It gave Kane a deeper clue. “That must be who she really is,” Kane thought. “Otherwise, why would she buy that art?”
Early on Kane learned that her suspicions were correct. “There were chairs in the dining nook with skirts to the floor and little bows on the back,” Kane remembers. But then Wilson said to her, “Let’s go down to Kravet.” Kane knew that the Jupiter furniture store, with elegant modern furnishings, was more in keeping with how Kane saw her client’s desired surroundings. “That was music to my ears,” Kane says.
The finished product has touches of deco in every room, embracing bold geometric furnishings and rich colors alongside details that sparkle.
LIGHT & DARK
The team at Villadelta, including Pereira-Dudley’s husband, Bob, were able to take the design ideas and execute the construction perfectly.
Dark, cherry colored flooring — polished and shiny — allows furnishings throughout the house to pop. It lends just the right juxtaposition of light and dark. Pereira-Dudley says, “Having a shiny, glossy floor was really important to Jeri. Now the trend is brushed, not shiny. So it was tricky to find the right finish with the right color — and within budget.” What Pereira-Dudley sourced was pre-engineered hardwood supplied by ProSource in Vero Beach. “They’re a wonderful resource for unique finishes and colors that can be difficult to find,” she says.
The kitchen also offers contrasts that carry throughout the home. The white quartz counters have distinct black ribbon accents. The medium gray cabinets, with metallic gold and silver handles, stand out against the cherry-colored floor. And rather than use a backsplash as a separate element, Wilson chose to run the quartz all the way up the wall which looks not only modern and sophisticated but strong. The cabinets are custom built by Siteline Cabinetry. “They make quality, solid wood boxes,” says Pereira-Dudley. “They are our go-to lines for custom building.”
The cabinets are ceiling height, topped with interior lit spaces behind frosted glass panels. Other kitchen details are functional and fun. The microwave has a button that pops the appliance out of the wall for easy access.
Additional design features proposed by Kane were ones Wilson happily adapted. “Karen did a good job in knowing me and knowing I wasn’t going to have big floral wallpaper,” Wilson says. But there is a good amount of wallpaper in the house because wallpaper is hip again. The once outdated and maligned wall covering has been making a big comeback.
Canadian designer and HGTV star Candice Olson’s wallpaper lines are on interior decorators’ most wanted lists. Beginning in 2021, according to Vogue Magazine, Pinterest searches for wallpaper were up 41 percent over the previous year. And according to Kane, wallpaper lasts three times longer than paint. She and Wilson decided on which patterns worked best, then papered several rooms — including the guest and master baths. “When I said to some of my friends, ‘wallpaper,’ they didn’t get it.” But the results are stunning. They are another example of contrasts that fulfill the promise of design elegance. As are the master bathroom walls, which have a silvery textured pattern offsetting the black and white wood cut art of Stefan Martin.
Kane was able to find a new use for a few of the furnishings and decorative items in the home.
She switched the bedroom and living room lamps, and relocated some of the art. The lamps in the primary bedroom have large, angular, silver, X-shaped bases. They make a bold statement, around which she and Wilson began to redesign the room. The headboard and bedframe’s pale fabric has a snakeskin-like finish. A custom-made black bedcover, black and white cushions, dark furniture and a white rug on the reddish floor maintain the light and dark contrasts. Crowning the bed is a colorful piece of art from Vero Beach’s seminal Under the Oaks art festival.
Kane has had a long, impressive career as an interior designer from the Treasure Coast to the Palm beaches. Having begun in the business with a retail shop, her knowledge and background provide an invaluable expertise in managing the entire scope of the design. She and Wilson, working alongside Pareira-Dudley, communicated easily, and became friends over the years that it took to finalize the renovation. “Jeri and Yvonne would work together and then ask me what I thought,” Kane says. “It was more like a collaboration, but I needed both of them.”
The living room furniture is from Kravet. Wilson chose the chairs, but Kane talked her into the fabric. “That’s what I mean when I say we worked well together,” Wilson says.
As for the window treatments, all the blinds are silhouettes from Hunter Douglas, and the custom drapes in the living and dining rooms are a sheer Finley from Norbar Fabrics. The custom black rods with glass finials are by Bargia and they, too, strengthen the dark and light theme.
Frosted glass double front doors are a feature suggested by Bob Dudley. “He opens up the doors and says, ‘Look how much brighter, how much light,’” Wilson recalls. “I had seen something like these online and Yvonne checked them out and found them.” With the existing fixed-glass transom above the door, the living room gained a large measure of natural light.
There was also a pragmatic approach to the team’s work. The guiding principle was cohesion not cost. “One pillow might cost ten dollars, and another a hundred and twenty. That is the difference with everything we used: It didn’t have to be the most expensive, it just had to be the right thing,” Kane says.
The long duration of the project is a testament to Wilson’s patience. “The house was gutted. I had to move out,” she explains. “Fortunately, a friend from Europe wasn’t using their place so I stayed there for 10 months.”
Blue is the theme color. A midnight blue guest bathroom cabinet is distinguished by a grey stone counter and large, sturdy silver metal pulls. The unique handles and hardware in the home came from East Coast Lumber in Fort Pierce.
All the overhead light fixtures are new. Along with the lamps, they play a dramatic role throughout. Abstract, teardrop-style, glass pendants hang over the kitchen sink. The dining room is graced with an elongated rectangular metal and glass fixture. A blue glass lamp sits on a sideboard. It was initially a tough sell for Wilson. Kane had picked out the lamp, but Wilson shied away because of the price. “It was one of the things that wasn’t five dollars,” Wilson laughs. “I’m not doing that,” was her initial reaction. But then she saw it online at a reduced price and it became one of those serendipitous occurrences. “That lamp was so different from anything you could find,” Kane says. And it forms a perfect complement to the beveled edge, glass-top table with its strong metal base. Together they give the room an almost industrial-art quality.
In the breakfast area, suspended over the table, Wilson chose a contemporary chandelier, twisted into a swirl of curved, metallic panels. “The table is modern,” Kane says, so she chose the embroidered linen fabric, from Donghia, for the cornice above the blinds as a perfect pairing to the geometry of the light fixture.
The end result is exactly what Wilson was hoping for. “It feels wonderful — like a new house. With Yvonne’s and Karen’s guidance and input we achieved the contemporary look I wanted. It also maintains the comfortable, welcoming feel that is so important to me.”
Pereira-Dudley says, “I really love the process of listening and to see clients so happy with the results. If we’re 99 percent there with 100 percent quality, integrity and intention, then we’ve done our jobs.”
Sept. 27, 2023