Indoor Couture

Quest March 2007

Written by Alec Coiro

Photographed by Kim Sargent

Press Photo Press Photo Press Photo

Mixing bold fabrics and a sandy color palette, designer William Eubanks
created a room that pays tribute to his longtime friend
William R. Eubanks is one of the premier decorators in Palm Beach. It is a long held distinction that was recently made official when he had the great honor of receiving the inaugural Star of Design Award in the Field of Interior Design on January 24, 2007. The award was given by The Design Center of the Americas, and recognized Eubanks as one of Florida’s great interior designers.

The Eubanks aesthetic has always been refined and classically elegant. With a mixture of styles that include English, French, Italian, and Chinese, a Eubanks interior projects the unified feeling of a gentleman’s grand tour, and a colorful one at that. As Eubanks points out, he has never been known to be afraid of color. In his work for the Red Cross Show House this year, however, Eubanks—along with his vice president of interiors and show room, Mitch Brown—decided to do something fun and unexpected. Taking longtime friend and professional collaborator Christopher Hyland as an inspiration, Eubanks and Brown designed the Show House drawing room as a “dream room” for their friend. Christopher Hyland is a purveyor of fine fabrics—he is on the couture end of home fashion fabrics—and Eubanks and Brown wanted to honor him by using his fabrics exclusively throughout the room, and also imagine a room that Christopher—who lives in New York—would be most comfortable in if he were in Palm Beach. To this end, Eubanks and Brown chose beautiful 18th- and 19th-century antiques to complement Hyland’s fabrics, but also strove for a degree of casual comfort appropriate for the oceanside setting.

Many of the flourishes in the room reflect Hyland’s edginess as well as a beach house aesthetic. For example, the unexpected use of terry cloth on the French love seat lends a cabana element to the room, and the introduction of modern art gives a nice twist to the very classically elegant space. Another key inspiration is the stunning 17th-century tapestry that hangs in the middle of the room. It is the neutral tones of this tapestry that dictated the color palette of the room as a whole, which is an interesting departure from Eubanks’s noted affinity for color. However, the neutral sand colors of the tapestry are accented by electric greens and blues throughout the room, exhibiting the range of hues one finds on the beach, and reflecting the extraordinary clear feeling of color one has in Palm Beach.

The house itself was also considered when Eubanks and Brown designed the room. Marked by subtly stuccoed walls and beamed ceilings, the beautiful seaside house—built in the 1920s—becomes a very powerful context for the interior design. While it is generously proportioned, the drawing room is long and narrow. In order to make the most of this layout, Eubanks and Brown created three discrete but not disconnected seating areas to make the space as intimate, commodious, and comfortable as possible. These multiple seating areas—a common theme in Eubanks’s work—create a graceful way of accommodating groups of all sizes; they make it easy to split the ladies from the gentlemen, if desired; and, most importantly, they help to eliminate that awkward feeling of walking into a room as a stranger and having all eyes turn to you.

It is just such a concern for grace that is at the root of William Eubanks’s enduring reputation for elegance. And next year, when he moves to the Show House dining room, he will no doubt delight the Show House’s international audience with the same refined, timeless style that has garnered him such well deserved accolades.