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Lisa Erdmann at Red Cross Designers Show House

Thursday 26 February 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

As she embarks on her third decade in business, interior designer Lisa E. Erdmann follows an every-other-year schedule to decide when she will decorate a room in the American Red Cross Designers’ Show House, an annual fundraiser that benefits the charity’s Palm Beach Treasure Coast chapter. On alternate years, she focuses on a different organization, from creating a table setting for a benefit at the Norton Museum to helping the Center for Family Services renovate its West Palm Beach offices.

But this year, she’s returning her time and design talents to the 39th annual Red Cross Show House at a historic lakefront home in Lake Worth, which hosts a preview party Wednesday before opening to the public the next day for a month of tours.

“My parents raised me to always know it was our responsibility to give back if we had the means to do so,” Erdmann says. “So picking a charity is important in my makeup, and working with the Red Cross is a pleasure. It’s so well received that it helps expose our design talent, and it benefits them, too.”

Giving back is not the only way of thinking Erdmann learned from her family.

Her livelihood centers around homes and design, and she comes from a land-development family with a name certainly familiar to Palm Beachers. Her grandfather, E. Llwyd Ecclestone Sr. — an early proponent of building luxury homes clustered around golf courses — developed the South Florida luxury communities Lost Tree Village and John’s Island. Her father, Palm Beacher E. Llwyd Ecclestone, developed PGA National and Old Port Cove. Her brother, E. Llwyd Ecclestone III, meanwhile, has just finished work on a pair of houses he developed on speculation on the North End.

Erdmann graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont and attended Parsons School of Design while working in the design industry in New York City. Having also studied at Florida Institute of Technology, she founded Lisa Erdmann & Associates in 1994. It’s based at her family’s development offices in West Palm Beach but has also long maintained a Palm Beach address.

For this year’s show house, Erdmann is cooking up something special for the living room of the 1925 Mediterranean-style house known locally as the “Birthday Cake Castle,” although its formal name is La Florentia.

The 7,000 square foot house, recently bought by Scott Levine, was originally built by Sherman Childs. It received its Birthday Cake Castle nickname when former owner Upton Close gave the home to his wife, Margaret Fretter Nye, as a birthday present in 1954. With slender candle-like pillars, plaster swirls that resemble icing and graceful curves, it even has a birthday-cake stained-glass window in the stairwell.

Its grandly scaled rooms, casual spaces, and nooks and crannies of various shapes and sizes will be the basic ingredients for 20 designers, who will adorn them to create their own slices of decorating magic.

The living room’s existing architectural features were the starting points for Erdmann and her design team, Rhonda Grammer and Eden Tepper.

“It’s a gorgeous room, very big, with an original Adam fireplace, trefoil windows and original hardwood floor. It was a blank slate,” Erdmann says. “Since it’s an old house and has such wonderful character, we treated it like it was on the island of Palm Beach with a more formal living room.”

Erdmann often uses antiques as part as part of their design strategy, but in the Birthday Cake Castle they played an even more important role.

“This is the correct way the room should be presented. The home is Mediterranean, and the interior needs to be consistent with the exterior,” she explains.

Furniture pieces in the main seating area are grouped around the fireplace, a logical place to gather with family and friends. A second seating vignette, placed near an adjoining wall, consists of two wing chairs and a table, where the home’s residents might settle in for tea, or to play chess or backgammon.

Erdmann chose comfortable upholstered furniture, adding English antiques for a more formal feel. For balance, on the wall opposite the fireplace, she placed a Regency mahogany sideboard. Many of the antiques were supplied by The Elephant’s Foot on Antique Row in West Palm Beach.

Lamps and chandeliers are from Niermann Weeks. “The chandelier that swags either side of the fireplace are crystal and metal with a beautiful Venetian silver type of finish,” she says.

The color scheme is neutral with touches of icy blue. “A room this large needs color, but it has to be soft, which is more consistent with the formal style,” she says. “The room does not get lots of sunlight, and the icy blue brightens the room up.”

Fabrics are by Cowtan and Tout, and all the patterns are subtle, she says.

“There’s a soft pattern on the drapes, a small herringbone on one chair and a larger pattern on the wing chairs, but the room is not defined by pattern; it’s more defined by the mix of the pieces together.”

The goal, she adds, “was to be elegant. In a past showroom, I chose bold colors in the drapery fabric, to draw the eye to the view and away from the adjacent kitchen; that’s a little trick,” she says. “But this is an interior room, with no views. Even the stained glass keeps the eye inside, so the drapes are softer.”

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 27, 2015

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-02-26  ::  Christine

a really haute ride

Thursday 26 February 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

For a chic two-wheel ride that celebrates Italian Week Palm Beach in style, hop on the bella Benelli Classica eBike, which importer Larry Ferracci calls “an haute item.”

Benelli Classica eBike

It’s being shown from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Friday at MacKenzie-Childs Palm Beach, 238 Worth Ave.

Benelli, a century-old luxury Italian brand known for its motorcycles, launched the Classica in December. For Italian Week, it’s available for test rides and for sale with a percentage of proceeds benefiting Il Circolo Palm Beach.

The Classica, which is perfect for urban streets, has a top speed of 20 mph and a range up to 40 miles. It comes in white, cream and black with natural saddle-color leather handlebar grips and seat. Its features include a lightweight lithium battery pack, with Samsung cell technology, that is concealed in the front frame. Recharging is as easy as charging a laptop.

It can be ridden as a bike without pedal-assist, or its rider can twist the shift on the grip to engage the motor and change speeds. Its LCD display shows battery capacity, speed and total distance.

“It’s a classic Milan bicycle and that’s what appeals to me,” Ferracci said. “And I like to think of riding a bike as fun.

“The last time I was in Palm Beach at the Four Seasons, I rode one of their bikes south to Manalapan. It was a nice leisurely ride and I was cruising looking around, but it took longer coming back because of 10 to 15 mile-an-hour headwinds.”

That’s when he wished he was riding a Classica electric bike with pedal assist, he said.

How does the bike work? Just like a bike. With its step-through design, you just get on and pedal. Engaging the motor is intuitive, with the dash integrated into the handlebar. From the grip, twist it on, choose the speed level, pedal and the system activates. It also has a throttle for a burst of energy.

Benelli Classica eBikes, priced at $2,100, can be drop-shipped anywhere in the United States within three or four days. For information, visit www.benellibikesusa.com. They also are available at specialty bicycle dealers, including Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop.

Easily maintained and serviced, “it is 98 percent a standard bicycle, with most of its components available at any bike shop,” Ferracci said. “There are only three special components: the front motor, display and battery pack; and a bike shop can call us for those parts, and we’ll send them.

“Keep air in the tires and the batteries charged, and you’ll have an enjoyable time.”

Written for Palm Beach Daily News, February 26, 2015

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Building Rybovich boats a family affair

Saturday 21 February 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

Just up the waterway from Wayne Huizenga Jr.’s marina, Rybovich, is the Michael Rybovich & Sons Boat Works in Palm Beach Gardens at 2175 Idlewild Road, where Michael and Dusty Rybovich build sportfishing boats in their family’s tradition.

At 64 feet long overall with 18 feet of beam, Lizzie Bee’s walkaround design allows for fishing all the way around the boat. It has a 360-degree center-console fishing platform with a large raised helm deck, well-appointed cabin and four staterooms. “My wife, Pat, likes it as much as I do. She did all the interior design, and is just as enthusiastic,” Larry Wilson said. At its final sea trial, Wilson said: “We went from Palm Beach to Miami and back this morning. Ran perfectly: smooth, dry, fast, fuel efficient, quiet and a great ride.”

 

After Huizenga Jr. bought the Rybovich Spencer boatyard in 2004, he hired Michael to head the new-construction end of the business, Michael explained.

“But when economy tanked, so did interest in new construction, and rather than fund a speculative new-construction venture, they decided to disband the company that was responsible for new construction.”

After he left Huizenga’s Rybovich, in 2011 he, with Palm Beacher Larry Wilson, acquired land owned by E&H Boat Works. Then, Michael sunk money into the rundown property, cleaning it up and rebuilding to create his new boat building, maintenance, modification and repairs company.

Family affair

Building Rybovich boats has been a family affair from its first boat, the 34-foot Miss Chevy II built for Charles Johnson in 1947, and it still is.

Dusty and Michael Rybovich, photo courtesy of Robert Holland

 

“In 1975 when I was 19, I was officially placed on the payroll,” Michael said. “I worked on a bottom crew. They haul, launch the boats, clean the bottoms, pull propellers, anything to do with work below the waterline.”

His son, Dusty, was born to the business. Dusty’s favorite Rybovich boat is hull No. 110, a 33-footer built at Ryco Marine in 1987. Dusty helped put new engines in it when he was in high school, he said. “Dad told me he was doing that boat’s sea trial, when mom went into labor with me.”

Like his father, he worked in the boat yard when he was in high school. “I’d come in after school and take care of all the messy jobs: painting in small areas, cleaning up, (doing) basic carpentry, digging through rotten wood, scraping barnacles.”

Undaunted, after high school, he went to Webb Institute in New York state and is now a naval architect and marine engineer. He joined his father in January 2013. “I guess being in the family business was what I’ve always wanted,” Dusty said.

Now with renovations complete, Michael Rybovich & Sons is up and running in all areas.

“We’ve done several major refits in addition to routine service and maintenance,” Michael said. “We worked a lot on our own boats and we’ll work on boats built by others, but most of our customers own one or more of our boats. I’d say we’ve worked on 20 to 25 of them.”

Custom boat builder

The boat building part of the company got underway in May 2012 with a 64-foot walkaround for Larry Wilson. It was finished summer 2014.

“Larry has been a fisherman and boat owner long enough to know exactly what he wants, and every time we’ve done work for Larry he wants something different,” Michael said. “He likes being involved in projects that push the envelope.

“This one was the largest walkaround that we’d ever built, and it had a unique propulsion system using a Volvo IPS Pod drive (a system that has forward-facing counter rotating propellers).”

How does Michael build boats compared to his father, grandfather and uncles? “I don’t want to get stuck with a particular method because we are constantly experimenting with methods of construction, combining Old World craftsmanship with the latest in weight-saving technology,” he said.

Currently, an 86-foot and a 68-foot conventional sportfishing boats are in the works.

“For our new construction business, we are a total custom-builder,” Michael said. “We can build anybody anything they want from 40 to 100 feet as long as it looks and performs like one of our boats.”

Since Dusty joined his father, designing is now digital. “We see how the boat is going to fit before we built it. It’s a great timesaver,” Dusty said.

“While each boat is completely custom, including the way it looks, we try to keep with our signature theme, but make each boat unique unto itself.”

Wilson, who has owned six Rybovich boats, has this to say: “Since 1947, the Rybovich family has been very innovative, with the tuna tower, transom door, fighting chair, and other items that are now standard for sportfishing boats.

“Rybovich boats were always the highest quality, and they were always made out of wood, which is lighter than fiberglass, and has a more elegant look. Of all the Rybovich boats built, 124 are still in use. That’s eight decades. They are works of art.

“Mike is a perfectionist, wants it right and keeps to a high standard,” he said. “He continues to build boats that ride better and perform better than other boats. They are more efficient and elegant. He builds a boat that I believe is the best.”

Currently, in addition to owning the 64-foot walkaround recently launched, Michael Rybovich & Sons’ hull No. 1, Lizzie Bee, Wilson also owns the 32-foot, Charmer, hull No. 108, built at Ryco Marine in 1985, and launched at that same time as Ruthie.

published: Palm Beach Daily News

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-02-21  ::  Christine

A Waterfront Classic

Sunday 4 January 2015 - Filed under Luxury

Link to Palm Beach Daily News Story

It’s no surprise that horses played their part in Mary Jo Condren and her late husband deciding to buy a home in Palm Beach.

William Condren, after all, was part owner of two Kentucky Derby winners — Strike the Gold in 1991, and Go for Gin in 1994 — and the 1996 Preakness winner, Louis Quatorze. He also co-founded and served as director of the National Thoroughbred Association and as a trustee for the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

His wife took up riding again with her daughters, and in 1995, when the Condrens bought their Estate Section home at 240 Banyan Road, their daughter, Jennifer Bargas, was still in college and riding in Wellington.

“My sister, Jennifer, was involved in horseshows,” explained Elizabeth Condren. “I was finishing up college then, and Jennifer spent more time in Florida than my brother, Colin, or I.”

Their parents also made regular visits to Florida from New York.

“My father would go down to Gulfstream to watch the horses race. That was a factor in their coming to Florida,” she says.

“When my parents saw this house on Banyan, they liked it. They enjoyed the size and flow of the rooms, the view, the light airy feel — and it’s at the end of the block, so it’s quiet.”

After William Condren’s death in 2007, Mary Jo continued to live in the house but has decided she wants to spend more time at her summer home in Southampton to be closer to her daughters, who live nearby.

Accordingly, the Condrens’ four-bedroom villa — with 11,365 square feet of living space, inside and out — is listed by Cristina Condon of Sothebys International Realty. She has it priced at $21.5 million.

U-shaped floor plan

Built in 1991 on a lot measuring three-quarters of an acre, the house was developed by the Condron’s neighbors at the time, Diana and Lowry Bell, Elizabeth Condren recalls. The interiors were designed by Palm Beach decorator Scott Snyder.

With a U-shape configuration featuring north and south wings, the main house is oriented toward the west to make the most of its Intracoastal Waterway views. Rooms facing the water also look out to the pool and patio, an expansive lawn and the dock. In the waterway beyond is the northern tip of Everglades Island.

The main entry to the two-story house is on the east side, with an arrival court running the length of a raised garden. The garden lies between the main house and a two-story building that houses the three-car garage and an upstairs guest apartment with a living room, bar and two bedroom suites.

The front façade for the modified Georgian-style house features quoins at the corners, shutters at the windows and an elaborate arched surround around the front doorway. Triangular pediments pierce the roofline over the central portion of the house as well as over first-floor windows that flank the front door.

The design of the gardens is based on an axis with a central fountain and radiating walkways leading to the main house, the east building, a south covered walkway and the motor court.

Water views abound

Inside, the foyer and stair hall are quite grand, with a curved staircase and a variety of moldings. Floors here and in the main living areas are covered in marble.

The living room features a carved-stone fireplace, deep crown molding, classical surrounds around the doorways. French doors with fanlights above them lead outside to the covered loggia.

In the south wing are the kitchen, breakfast room and dining room, and in the north wing are the library and den.

Both the dining room and den have French doors fronting the loggia and with picture windows capturing views of the pool and Intracoastal. The central portions of the windows are crowned with fanlights, and all the windows set off with pilasters.

The den also has an alcove bar, a pecky-cypress coffered ceiling and a terracotta-tile floor.

The library features a hardwood floor and plantation shutters at the windows, along with custom cabinetry and paneling with decorative molding and wainscoting.

Upstairs in the north wing is the master suite, which includes a bedroom, two bathrooms, a dressing room and a sitting room with a morning bar and arched French doors opening onto a balcony. Windows in the master bedroom offer water views, and other features include crown molding, casement windows and a hardwood floor.

Also on the second floor are three en-suite guest bedrooms. In all, the property has five bathrooms and two half-baths.

‘House was fantastic’

Elizabeth Condren recalled the home as a happy one.

“When I was in college, this was a vacation house for me. We have a little back garden off the kitchen, and I’d pick up the scent of jasmine,” she said.. “The house was fantastic. I’d come with good friends, and I loved seeing everybody and hanging out by the pool.”

A Waterfront Classic photo

Higher-than-average ceilings are found throughout the house, including those in the second-floor bedrooms. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

The property measures three-quarter of an acre and freatures extensive gardens. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

A second-floor balcony overlooks the pool. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

Because of its U-shaped configuration, many of the rooms have views of the extensive pool area facing the water. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

A Palladian-style window showcase the view from the formal dining room. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

In the north wing, the family room directly faces the pool area. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

From the living room, sets of French doors with fanlights above them open onto the covered loggia. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

In the foyer and stair hall, a curved staircase provides a focal point. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

A fountain anchors the approach to the house at 240 Banyan Road. The estate is listed for sale at $21.5 million by Sothebys International Realty. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

The library is appointed with detailed paneling and millwork. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

An elaborate frontispiece, typical of the Palladian style, adorns the front fa ade. The axis of the house runs straight from the front door to pool beyond. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

A Waterfront Classic photo

An aerial photo looking south shows house s position in relation to the gentle curve to the Intracoastal Waterway. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-01-04  ::  Christine

Get going with hybrid cycle

Sunday 4 January 2015 - Filed under Luxury

Link to original Palm Beach Daily News story

Here’s a bike that might make a perfect holiday gift. And it might be a perfect vehicle for your New Year’s resolve to get more exercise.

The GoCycle changes back and forth from your power, with manual shifting, to electric power, with gear shifting engaging automatically.

Karbon Kinetics Limited’s GoCycle G2 lets you pedal away to your heart’s content (and health), or you can choose to be completely lazy, thanks to this electric bike’s combination of two drive systems: a three-speed hub gearbox, as well as a front hub-mounted 250W motor.

First and foremost, the GoCycle electric bike is an actual bike, can be ridden as a bike and feels like a bike.

To get it going under its own steam, so to speak, just push its little red turbo button on the dashboard display on its handlebars, and you’ll zip around effortlessly.

The faster you were going when you pressed the button, the faster you’ll be propelled, although it won’t go much above 20 mph.

How far will it take you? Well, it depends on how much effort you put into it. You can ride forever under your own power; you can go up to 80 miles if you do some of your own pedaling; or you can travel a distance of 8 to 12 miles, if you don’t pedal at all, depending on the terrain.

Created in 2002 in Britain by ex-Formula One design engineer Richard Thorpe, the GoCycle’s second generation was launched in the United States at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in fall. The GoCycle G2 is ergonomic, environmentally friendly, elegant and fun to ride. It has a comfy saddle, and its fore-aft weight distribution, with a low center of gravity, makes it agile and responsive to ride.

How does it work? Utilizing its easy-to-use dashboard display on the handlebars, the rider can monitor the battery level; set the riding mode to city, eco, on-demand or custom; change gears; and regulate speed.

In addition, it has a trip odometer and calories-burned calculator. Also available is a Smartphone GocycleConnect app, which links to GoCycle with Bluetooth, and you can set modes that way. The app also can shut the GoCycle off, if it gets stolen.

With GoCycle, you don’t have to worry about getting into the wrong gear. The electric motor powers the front wheel, while the pedals power the rear wheel.

Either you are in command, changing the gears as you pedal along, or, when the motor is engaged, you let GoCycle intuitively change gears for you.

“What makes this bike unique, is that you can use it as a bicycle with no drag from the motor. It’s just so easy to ride. It figures out what you need and gives it to you. It’s amazing,” said Roger Moore, owner of Nautical Ventures of Dania Beach, a business that carries GoCycles.

Other features include high-tech, durable injection-molded magnesium fabrication; three-speed fully enclosed drive chain (so your clothes don’t get greasy or caught up); and interchangeable side-mounted front and rear wheels with hydraulic disc brakes. It comes in white, black and gray; and it weighs 35 pounds.

With four parts – frame, wheels, saddle – it’s technically foldable (to a dimension of 2 by 2.5 by 1 foot) and storable, so it’s ideal for yachts. Also, since it’s easily adjustable without tools, its driving position can be changed, and it can be made to fit a variety of body types, so the bike can be shared by different riders.

No special license is necessary; it can be ridden wherever a bike can be ridden.

The GoCycle, priced at $5,199, comes with a storage case, and is available at Nautical Ventures, 50 South Bryan Road, Dania Beach, where it also can be serviced. For information, call (954) 926-5250.

Accessories, including packs, mud guards and lighting, can be purchased.

“We just became dealers, and we’ve already sold a few,” Moore said. “We sell tenders, and for people with boats who want portability, it’s killer.

“We call it the ‘GoCycle smile.’ Customers, who take it for a ride, come back with big grins. It’s cool with all these intuitive features.”

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-01-04  ::  Christine

Suspended in air, hovercraft lets you fly

Sunday 4 January 2015 - Filed under Luxury

Link to Palm Beach Daily News Story:

If you buy a Universal Hovercraft Renegade IQ, not only can you hover, but you also can use it as a Jet Ski, snowmobile, amphibian, airboat and four-wheeler. No matter your destination, this hovercraft is an easy-to-drive two-passenger vehicle.

The Renegade IQ hovercraft, which comes with an LED headlight, rear-view mirrors, and cruiser windshield, is priced at $32,000.

Like a Jet Ski from the floorboards up, it has handlebars and a bench seat. But it also has a vertical fan that blows air underneath the hull, and a flexible skirt around the edge that keeps the air from dissipating too quickly, creating a bubble of high pressure that lifts and moves the craft.

“Mom can get in one with her kid, turn a key, hit the throttle and enjoy a hovercraft ride,” said Matt Stewart, who represents the company and also works for Nautical Ventures in Dania Beach.

“I could teach a 10-year-old how to drive it in a few minutes.”

For those who want some excitement, “you can be at a 30-degree drifting turn, while also doing 360-degree spins, if you can imagine that. It’s epic,” Stewart said. “The sensory experience is unparalleled.

“I can teach people to do 360s right off the bat, too.”

Crash-proof

A sort of science-fiction vehicle that moves suspended in air, it seems otherworldly, even if you know the physics behind it. And, while it can’t go to Mars, it can go places no other vehicle can, such as over shallow water, thin ice or deep mud, as long as the surface is relatively flat.

It has a 29 horsepower engine, can go up to 50 mph and cruises at 35 mph. Seven gallons of gas will take you 140 miles. It’s registered as a boat, so you don’t need a driver’s license.

If you live on the water, you can just drive it out of the garage and into the water. Or, if you are in the water and want to bring it onto a beach that allows boats, you can drive it up on the sand.

They are compact, relatively lightweight, and can easily be stowed aboard most yachts.

With a foam core that’s wrapped with layers of Kevlar, it’s crash proof, Stewart said.

“Others have two fans: one that lifts and one that pushes forward. What the Renegade has is the lift and thrust with one propeller, so it’s less weight, which means you can pull it on a trailer behind a Mini Cooper; it’s simpler to operate and quieter.”

In the making for 10 years

Universal Hovercraft, headquartered in Rockford Ill. and founded by Bob Zang, has been in existence for 30 years. “The current owner, Bill Zang, likes to say ‘Uncle Bob didn’t invent them, but he was a pioneer,’ ” Stewart said. “From what I understand, Bob saw one on TV when he was young, and said ‘I’m going to make those,’ and that was it.”

The Renegade, made to be consumer-focused, has been in the making for 10 years. Its soft start was three years ago, and it was officially launched during the Miami Boat Show in 2014.

Universal Hovercraft makes 20 models, including commercial crafts, sports crafts that can hold several people, search-and-rescue crafts, and even a craft for kids.

Flies off the water

If you want to get really fancy, you can purchase its highest end hovercraft, the Hoverwing, which flies off the water.

The Renegade IQ, which comes with an LED headlight, rear-view mirrors, and cruiser windshield, is priced at $32,000. While it can go on any trailer, one designed specifically for it, the EZ Load Trailer, is priced at $1,890.

To price-compare some options, if you want to put the Renegade IQ together yourself, you can buy it as a kit for $23,995, or you can go all out and get the 240-horsepower Hoverwing for $190,000.

The Renegade IQ is available at Nautical Ventures, 50 South Bryan Road., Dania Beach. For $80, you can attain a demo-flight experience. For more information, call (954) 926-5250.

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-01-04  ::  Christine

‘Magical’ estate: Merrilyn Bardes

Wednesday 10 December 2014 - Filed under Luxury

Built in the late 1920s and little altered since, the estate captures the grandeur and whimsy of its era.

Architect Marion Sims Wyeth set the front door into an elaborate stone frontispiece with a stepped-back arch and a Juliet -style railed balcony above it. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

The historic architecture and the natural light — especially the way sunshine filters through the original stained-glass windows — are as special as they are lovely, said Merrilyn Bardes about her historic estate at 196 Banyan Road.

“I thought the house was magical when I bought it in 1998, and I still think it’s magical,” she said.

Designed by noted society architects John Volk and Gustav Maass for owner Harry Thomas, the 1929 Mediterranean-style house stands on a prime Estate Section street, and exemplifies the fanciful and elaborate homes of its era.

Just look at the report prepared before the house was granted landmark-protection status by the town in 1979. It aptly describes the house as a product of its time, a “unique example of the economic and social atmosphere during the Boom Time era of the 1920s. It was constructed after the hurricanes of 1926 and 1928, and just as the financial collapse of 1929 began. It represents one of the last ornate and expensive estates to be built in Palm Beach.”

At 196 Banyan Road, the landmarked home's two wings flank multiple outdoor terraces that were built by homeowner Merilynn Bardes. Landscape architect Mario Nievera, today of Nivera Williams Design, created the hardscape plan, while Bardes chose the plants. The house is listed for sale at $14.5 million through Sotheby s International Realty. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

In the ocean block at the corner of South County Road, the main part of the L-shaped house fronts Banyan Road, while the more utilitarian rooms and garage run along County Road. Along the back of the house are loggias and terraces descending to a pool, which is set amid lush tropical landscaping.

Because Bardes has downsized, her four-story, seven-bedroom, 10-bathroom, three-half-bath home with a tower, staff rooms and 13,077 square feet of living space, inside and out, has been offered for sale. Sotheby’s International Realty agents Cristina Condon and Todd Peter have set a price of $14.5 million.

Much is original

Like many architects of the era, Volk not only had a hand in the architecture but also in selecting the furnishings, according to John L. Volk, Palm Beach Architect, a book compiled by the Volk family.

Visitors pass through the front door into a small foyer and then into the main hallway, where an arched passageway pierces the staircase and leads to the rear loggia. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

“Volk traveled to Spain to find the furnishings, tiles, rugs and decorative materials for the house. A coffered ceiling was created from one small portion Volk found in a palace in Salamanca. He took the section and had it duplicated to create enough individual sections to cover the entire drawing-room ceiling. The decorative tiles for the stairways and bathrooms came from Seville and Barcelona.”

Adding to the history of the house, Bardes mentions that the late H. Loy Anderson was a former owner — followed by two more owners — before she purchased it in 1998. She has left the house mostly unchanged, except for the family room.

“It was a breakfast room and bar divided by pocket doors,” she said. “I redid them to be one big family room.”

She used pecky-cypress paneling and tile flooring, which blends with the original Cuban tile used on the first floor of the home.

“The Volk book will also tell you that the materials that he used cannot be reproduced today,” she said. “You can’t find Cuban tiles anymore, and nobody can make stained glass and the cast stone like this house has.”

Some of the stone details she’s referring to include elements adorning the stucco facades: a decorative frontispiece, with an arched door and a “Juliet”-style balcony above it, and a handsome stone cornice that embellishes the roof line.

Cinquefoil arched windows fitted with leaded glass create a romantic play of light in the foyer, living room, and dining-room gallery. Other architectural elements in the public areas include intricate ceilings, a carved-stone fireplace and crown moldings.

All in the details

A romantic double staircase with colorful tile risers greets visitors as they arrive from the foyer.

“The wrought-iron on the double staircase is one of my favorite things about the house,” Bardes said. “On the landing, you look through a basket of flowers made of wrought iron.”

With twin flights of stairs, a grand staircase greets visitors to the house. The living room can be seen at the rear left. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

The home was made for entertaining, she noted, and it was a breeze to decorate.

“So much of my furniture that I’ve had forever — it just walked in, found a place to live and was happy,” she said.

Gothic-style arches with cinquefoil details adorn a wall in the stately dining room, which is large enough to seat 12 or even more comfortably. The Cuban-tile floors are original. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

The master bedroom and bathroom are above the living room and loggia, and open to a broad second-floor terrace that wraps around the outside of the staircase landing.

“The master bathroom has the most beautiful pair of Art Deco sinks, with all the original brass knobs and spouts,” she said. “They are just perfect, and the tile is cobalt blue. It is magnificent. The whole tub area is beautifully tiled and the floor has terra cotta tiles, inset with tiles that have medieval hunting scenes. The ceiling is pretty — arched with rounded beams — and the windows facing Banyan have the same stained glass as downstairs.”

Elaborate gardens

By the time she bought the property, the grounds needed work, and it was in this area that she worked her own breed of magic. A longtime member of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, she chose tropical plant materials and commissioned landscape architect Mario Nievera to design the hardscape.

“The house sits on almost an acre, and Volk had designed a beautiful fountain with tiles that came from Spain. But it was all long gone by the time I bought the house,” she said. “Now, there are steps that go down to the swimming pool, which is kind of surprise, since it can’t be seen from the main terrace.

“The landscaping sort of fell into place. Choosing a tree is like choosing a dress. You have to love it, and that’s kind of the way I garden.

“It’s definitely a tropical garden, with many species of palms. I have quite a few cycads, a fabulous Queen Fego palm, and a pink rain tree, Albizia Saman, that covers the terrace. I have my coveted Lady of the Night, which is a heavily scented plant, outside my kitchen door and another outside my family room door.

Other plants include a big gardenia, specimen hybrid hibiscus, an all-spice tree, bay-rum tree and bougainvillea — all of which have provided a lush backdrop for the outdoor parties and fundraisers she has hosted at the estate.

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News, May 2014

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-10  ::  Christine

Discover Local Artists: gone to the dogs

Thursday 11 September 2014 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

A new exhibit that promises to warm the hearts of dog lovers opens Sept. 16 at the Art Gallery at Eissey Campus at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens.

“Bark,” an all-dog exhibit, features the photographs, sculptures and paintings of Palm Beach County artists Durga Garcia, Victoria R. Martin and Nancy Spielman. The exhibition opens Sept. 16 with a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and continues through Oct. 17. Both the reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

Nancy Spielman

“This body of work is to celebrate the comfort, joy, happiness and fun that dogs bring to our lives,’’ Nancy Spielman said. “My very first dog, Charlie,  has affected my life in a way I never dreamed would happen. A yellow lab—I call him Handsome Man— is my inspiration to paint these lovable friends.”

"Happy to See Me" by Nancy Spielman

Spielman takes photos of canines and uses them as a reference for her paintings. “I strive to heighten and improve the photographic model through the use of oil paint, elements of design and especially color.”

Durga Garcia

Durga Garcia, a conceptual photographer of fine art and commissioned portraits, will exhibit a portrait collection of working dogs. “Each conveys not only their handsome beauty and personality, but also their intelligence and alertness necessary for their various jobs,’’ she said.

For years, Garcia raised and worked Jack Russell Terriers in England. Now she handles the first year of training for guide dogs. A young guide dog is often seen with her during photo-shoots, events or lectures.

"Maggie" by Durga Garcia

Victoria Rose Martin

Victoria Rose Martin, a PBSC art professor, builds her sculptural forms by hand using low-fire clay. She says that is why no two figures will ever be exactly the same.

"Yellow Dog Rocker" by Victoria Martin

The surfaces are decorated with stamped words and a variety of finishes, including oxides, underglaze and glaze.

The art, ranging from $200 to $600, will be available for sale. Each artist will donate 20 percent of any sales to Furry Friends, a no-kill, nonprofit animal shelter or Canine Assisted Therapy (C.A.T.), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing pet therapy to children and adults who have developmental and physical challenges as well as those who desire comfort and companionship of a loving pet.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located on the first floor of the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd. For more information call the gallery at 561-207-5015 or visit the website at: www.palmbeachstate.edu/artgallerypbg.

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2 comments  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-09-11  ::  Christine

Discover Local Arts: Carin Wagner and Yvonne Parker

Thursday 8 May 2014 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

Palm Beach State College’s Art Gallery at Eissey Campus showcases works by Carin Wagner and Yvonne Parker in an exhibit, “The Nature of Impermanence,” from May 13 through September 5. The opening reception is at 5:30 p.m. May 13. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Carin Wagner

Wagner’s paintings allude to the cycles of life and that nature and individuals are in a constant state of evolution and renewal. “Most of us are going along in our little world and don’t understand how fragile our environment is or how to protect it,” said Wagner.

Wagner records small moments in nature in order to  share its peace. In her studio, she lays down many thin glazes of oil paint to create luminous deep surfaces on the canvas, to evoke the fragility of the natural world.

'Shelter' by Wagner, oil on canvas, 54 by 84 inches, $20,000

'A Dead Trees Grow No New Leaves II' by Wagner, oil on Canvas, 30 by30 inches, $6,500

“From a glade filled with ferns golden in the evening light to a tiny flower blazing with fleeting glory, as time went by I realized how fragile all of this beauty was and felt I needed to protect it. I decided to paint my favorite trees- some towering in the midst of a storm, others quiet in moonlight- in the hopes that they would arouse the same protective spirit in others.”

Yvonne Parker

Parker’s sculptures are about rediscovering elements of the past in order to create a vision of a more positive future. “Preserving time gone bye, by incorporating vintage or historic materials in my work, is my way of dealing with transformation and change,” she says.

“We live in a world of constant change, chaos, illness, disaster and loss. I want to create art to hold on to the beautiful memories of the past, while embracing the present and looking confident into the future.”

'Celebration' by Parker, mixed media 25 by 17 by 14 inches, $8,900

'Price for Memories' by Parker, mixed media 20 by 20 inches, $3,700

The exhibit takes place in partnership with the Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park. A percentage of proceeds from the sale of Wagner’s art will benefit the Friends’ environmental-education programs for underserved students. Sculptures, prints and large oil paintings will be on sale with prices ranging from $150 to $30,000. During the opening reception, the first 60 guests will receive black ironwood tree seedlings.

Summer gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located in the first floor of the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd. For more information, call the gallery at 561-207-5015 or visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/artgallerypbg.

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3 comments  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-05-08  ::  Christine

Discover Local Artists at Palm Beach State College

Saturday 12 April 2014 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus at Palm Beach State College holds its annual juried student art show, the 28th Annual Student Art Exhibition now through May 7. The variety of work reflects the many art disciplines offered at the college: ceramics, digital and traditional photography, drawing, life drawing, applied and digital design and painting. Featuring 160 pieces in the exhibition, much of the art is available for purchase, with prices ranging from $20 to $1,000.

Kayla Morrill entered the world of photography with her struggles and pains clutched tightly to her chest and she used the lens of her camera to examine them from every angle, she said. “I spent years posing models to reflect the insecurities, the longings and the dreams that I was feeling at the time. One of the reasons I love Gloss and the other pictures in the Headless series is that they don’t, in fact, mean anything personal to me. It’s a sign of my own progress that I am finally able to look out at the world instead of always looking in.”

Gloss by Kayla Morrill

Carla Gia Larosa, from New York City, studied art and design at F.I.T. She moved to Palm Beach County five years ago and decided to go back to college. “There I discovered the wonderful world of ceramic arts. I am fascinated by pre-Colombian art and it has been my greatest influence,” she said.

Finding Lella by Carla Gia Larosa

Talya Lerman, this year’s curator of the show, graduated with a Bachelors in business administration, management from Northwood University. She is currently the director of education at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach. Previously, she was the tour and volunteer coordinator at the Norton Museum of Art and the director of public programs for the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art. Both as an independent curator as well as affiliated with local non-profits, Lerman has been heavily involved in the South Florida art scene for over two decades.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located in the first floor of the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd. For more information, call the gallery at 561-207-5015 or visit http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/artgallerypbg/current-exhibition.aspx

 

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-04-12  ::  Christine