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From the deep blue to Peru, Vero Beach photographers went everywhere in 2011.


An island apartment comes alive as designer Winston Carney helps create the perfect home for her parents.

When daughter knows best

By Ann Taylor architectural photography by gridley + graves

Interior designer Winston Carney, who grew up in Vero Beach and now has a studio in Los Angeles, transformed her parents’ second-floor Bayou West apartment.




ery few people have heard of Bayou West, and that’s one of the things that made it so appealing to Jim and Laurie Carney. A unique part of Vero Beach history dating back to the early 1970s, it’s a two-story apartment complex behind the Quail Valley River Club at the end of Riomar Drive. After 40 years, it was beginning to show its age, but when the Carneys



Previous page: Before, the casual gathering area was smaller in size due to sliding glass doors that led to an outdoor porch. By eliminating the porch the space was expanded and now includes the dining room. The bonus is an unobstructed view of Riomar Bay. “The space being so open it was essential that everything work together, while at the same time giving some division to comfort in mind as well as being subtly stylish,” says Winston.

decided to return to the seaside town where they had begun their married life they zeroed right in on it. “I’ve known about it from the very get-go, ever since it was built,” says Jim, who in 1965 was fresh out of college and one of the first teachers hired at the then-new Saint Edward’s School on Club Drive. “Most of the people who bought in the Bayou originally lived in Riomar or Central Beach. It was always a little secret and had really never come of age until recently.” After the couple left Vero Beach they continued to keep in touch with long-time friends like Realtor Jeanine Harris. “She knew that Bayou West was experiencing a renaissance and her husband Bob said, ‘Call the Carneys, they just might be interested.’ “We talked and she told me about all of the changes that were going on there. I actually bought our first apartment sight unseen while I was standing on a balcony in Beacon Hill,” Jim chuckles. “When we were moving into our place Laurie started talking to a woman who lived just above us and she told her she was thinking about selling. It was one of four three-bedroom units in the complex and we wanted to have it one day.”


hat day came and the Carneys snapped it up. “You can’t find a better location – the view of the water with its wildlife is amazing and there’s always a wonderful breeze,” Laurie enthuses. “It’s community life without a gate and you don’t have to depend on a car for every move. We walk a lot and ride our bikes, all over the place. There’s such a feeling of freedom here.” However, there was one, not-so-small problem – the second-floor apartment was a flashback to times past. The floor plan reflected an era when rooms were spaces unto themselves. The view alone called for a more open and seamless flow of the main living areas. Enter the couple’s daughter Winston, an interior



“The antique Asian doors were an immediate yes,” Winston enthuses as she describes the dining room with an antique mirror running the length of one wall and designed to be a backdrop of texture and light without drawing attention to the reflection. “The vintage Maguire chairs are upholstered in Nancy Corzine ‘Ocean Reef’ fabric and the eight arm chandelier is a faux bamboo piece I found while hunting around one day with my mother.”



Laurie Carney couldn’t be happier with her new surroundings as she reflects on the before and after look.

designer whose studio is in Los Angeles, though she works on both coasts, and local architect Rob Atkins. Together they transformed the slightly-under 2,000-square-foot apartment. The redesign brings what has been described as a touch of Hong Kong to Vero Beach, while its location maintains the simplicity and beauty of Old Riomar. “It takes a lot of imagination to turn a dated space into something entirely different and contemporary,” says Laurie, obviously pleased with the result, which, she says, reflects the couple’s personalities, love of travel and learning about other cultures. “We started traveling when we were teachers – Jim taught English and I taught Art History and Greenhouse Gardening. For the past 30 years he’s been an educational consultant for a firm that helps find people and solves problems for independent schools all over the world, so we’ve visited a lot of countries. One of our most recent trips was to Burma and I was enthralled. Winston often goes with us and the amazing thing about her is that we can be traveling somewhere together and she’ll say, did you notice the moldings in that building? She really pays attention to her surroundings and the little details, and she’s very attuned to other people.”



Linen fabrics were used throughout the living room. “On the sectional I selected a Nancy Corzine fabric ‘Bridgehampton in tobacco,’ a wonderful fabric lending texture as well as a great color to the room,” says Winston. “Due to the space being so open it felt right to bring the Chang Mai fabric in to tie the rooms together. The coffee table, made out of antique handwoven sleeping mats from Borneo, was one piece I wouldn’t let my parents walk away from as I knew how terrific it would be in the room.”

The before and after photos of the Carneys’ apartment reflect that attention to detail as Winston and Rob were on the same wavelength. This was fortunate since, aside from a few in-person meetings, the couple communicated almost entirely via phone, e-mail and faxes. “We began our discussions in February 2008, taking everything into consideration – the low popcorn ceilings, the tiny kitchen and screened-in porch – before the decision was made to basically gut the apartment,” Rob recalls. “All of the drywall and ceilings came out and we moved things around. We probably did four or five schematics showing how we would lay everything out and discussed them with Laurie and Jim. Collectively we had some very good laughs, but once we got over the inevitable crisis we moved forward.” When everyone was in agreement with the plan, Winston and Rob got to work inside what had become a shell, taking care to maximize the views of the river. “You can get a big feeling out of a small space if you articulate it well,” says Rob, who has a reputation for doing just that. It’s also one of Winston’s specialties. “I’ve been surrounded by the creative process all my life. My mother is a painter and landscape designer, and my father has been an educator and consultant as well as a developer, creating and building homes and communities,” she explains. “The reason I’m a designer is because I enjoy helping people convert inner impressions gathered from life experiences into a statement that reflects who they are and what they value.” In her parents’ case she knew just how to proceed. “With the Bayou it seemed the right time to shift from the traditional feeling that has always been their style. They both have impeccable taste so the houses I grew up in were always lovely and well put together, even though traditional in execution and décor. This time, Rob and I discussed pushing them out of their comfort zone in REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION ©VERO BEACH MAGAZINE


The vintage table and chairs in the studio were all stripped and stained to update them. Winston selected a natural weave jute rug which adds texture; cork floors were used throughout the apartment, a decision based on cork being easy to live on and a “green-building” material that is environmentally friendly and can be renewed.



Winston chose to give the library more of a neutral feel while adding a pop of color with the Osborne & Little linen drapes. “The side tables are vintage twisted rattan that were stripped and stained and the coffee table is also a vintage piece we found,” Winston explains. “My parents found the rug in Turkey, and knowing what the room was going to look like it turned out to be a perfect fit.”



order to produce something that was fresh and fun, while at the same time creating a comfortable and sophisticated pied-a-terre,” Winston explains. “Because my parents are collectors, so much of the process was also recognizing that the walls would be covered in art. With Rob a lot of our conversation went on around wall placement and how to work with lighting. There are

always surprises that happen but it narrows the gap without question – for example, knowing that in the living room a Hung Lui piece would be on the west wall played into the wall color we selected, as well as the purchase of two Dorothy Draper-style shells circa 1940. They had been painted white but I noticed that underneath it appeared there was gold leaf so I decided to have the paint removed

Adding a window in the master bedroom not only allows for a view of Riomar Bay it makes the room appear larger. “The walls are a wonderful shade of aqua and the vintage starburst headboard is the same color in gloss,” Winston points out. “The drapes are an ivory linen and we lowered the walls around the window to create boxes for the drapes as well as add the feeling of height to the ceiling.” The antique red chair adds color and interest.

to see what we would get. They ended up being spectacular and bring a wonderful symmetry to the wall. “The Asian feeling wasn’t a conscious effort as much as a natural evolution of the project,” Winston continues. “There’s a whimsy found in many of the papers and fabrics that felt right in the design of the space while also offering the sophistication that is suited to my parents. Asia has been an area of the world to which we have returned time and again individually and as a family, so when we found such treasures as the antique doors, it really wasn’t a question of if they would work here, it was more about professionally restoring them and confirming that we had the right local master craftsman to hang them the way I thought they should be hung. “I find that working with a client is so much like being

on a journey and I love going along with them on the adventure. They choose the destination and off we go. It is so exhilarating to capture all their impressions and to help weave their life experiences, taking what they have gathered in their heads and converting it into a statement in their home. This is why I love the design process. It’s tactile, interactive – choosing fabrics, building furniture, working with architects and contractors to build the idea, suppliers for fixtures, and filling my car with all the accessories that will complete the vision. “My philosophy has always been that I don’t remain behind in the space I am designing; it’s not about me, it’s about the client. The most important element to me is a place that, in the end, is something the client is comfortable living in day by day. That’s where I find my joy.” `



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When Daughter Knows Best  

An island apartment comes alive as designer Winston Carney helps create the perfect home for her parents. By Ann Taylor

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