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Palm Beach chic: Interview with designer Patrick Killian, of Patrick Killian Inc.

15 Apr 2014 5:46 PM
Palm Beach chic: Interview with designer Patrick Killian of Patrick Killian Inc.

Largely thanks to its coastal location and community of affluent luxury real estate owners, Palm Beach is often regarded as one of Florida's most stylish metropolitan areas.

In addition to the cutting edge fashions worn by locals, a number of chic trends can be found within many homes throughout the historic town. This is no doubt due to the continual presence of high-end design firms, which have served to define the municipality's longstanding sense of cosmopolitan sophistication, as well as usher in contemporary styles through innovative color schemes and attractive modern upgrades.

While there are a plethora of respected design firms to choose from, homeowners looking to incorporate an upscale aesthetic into their area properties tend to seek the guidance of one organization in particular: Patrick Killian Inc. In recent years, company's founder and namesake, Patrick Killian, has been the recipient of numerous awards and the subject of many profiles in esteemed publications.

We were fortunate to recently sit down with Killian and learn more about his calculated approach to interior design, as well as the lessons he has learned during his business' 14 years in operation.

Sotheby's International Realty: You have received a significant amount of critical acclaim for your interior design talents during your career - how did you first get started in this industry?

Patrick Killian: I have worked as a decorator for over 20 years. Beginning as a design assistant with Aero Studios in New York, followed closely with the irreplaceable training as Albert Hadley's assistant at Parish-Hadley, Inc., before striking out on my own.

SIR: Sounds like you had accumulated lots of experience with respected designers in the Big Apple. What brought you to The Island?

PK: After Parish-Hadley closed in 1999, clients from New York bought a house in Palm Beach and asked me to help pull-it together. I hadn't been here since college and remember thinking, "I could never live here." Within a year, I had left New York to live here full time. This is one of the most beautiful small towns in America, which draws sophisticated residents, who care about the quality of their surroundings and the integrity of their community. It's also deeply civilized and a lot of fun. I've made some of the greatest friends of my life here.

SIR: In your work, have you identified any unique design trends that set Palm Beach apart from other upscale areas in the Sunshine State?

PK: The understanding that traditional design elements have endured for the very reason that they work. They bring comfort and they create [the feeling of] "home." Also, there is a deep appreciation here for great architecture and quality design, for which I am grateful. As a member on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, I care about the quality of the housing stock and believe in the work we do to preserve it.

SIR: Are there any specific color schemes that you think best represent the epitome of Palm Beach style?

PK: Blue is a color that crops up in almost every project, from palest blue ceilings to cerulean fabrics and sky blue lamps. Greens, pinks and corals and lots of neutrals like beige, cream, white and brown - all the colors you would see walking the beach or the Lake Trail - [are also popular].

SIR: In the same vein, are there any features that you make a point to accentuate whenever possible?

PK: Well, you can't avoid the views, now can you? However, I strongly believe that there's nothing you can do about that, and there's no sense in thinking anything you do with the interior could compete with it. There is no competing with it. The view and nature will always win.

SIR: We know many homeowners enjoy featuring organic materials from the surrounding area within their interior design schemes. Do you incorporate any local materials into your work?

PK: Absolutely. Pecky cypress paneling and coquina stone for instance. They are are beautiful, rugged and refined materials - and completely appropriate to Palm Beach, whether the style is Mediterranean, Bermuda, Monterey, etc.

SIR: Have you noticed any design trends in particular gain popularity with Palm Beach homeowners in the last few years? Any that you don't recommend to your clients?

PK: Two that I can think of. One I would call "Monkeys and Palm Trees" that was a loose interpretation of British Colonial style, which in and of itself is an interpretive style with an emphasis on the "cute." The other is "Palm Beach Glam," which revived all of the lacquered faux bamboo furniture and acid colors of the late 60s/early 70s. I've tried to avoid both, as much as possible.

SIR: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today, Patrick. Before we part ways, could you tell us if there are any new design trends on the horizon for Palm Beach, so to speak?

PK: None, I hope! Trends in decorating should be avoided, if at all possible, unless that style truly expresses who the client is and how they want to live. Decorating should go much deeper in to one's personality and what's appropriate to the architecture, which is what I would like to see more often. The decoration of anyone's home should be a delight, not a joke or one-hit wonder. Luckily, I have clients that have called Palm Beach home for decades and will continue to, for quite some time to come.