07/30/2014 09:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Spectacular Beach Cottage Makeover You Won't Believe

With an open mind and (a lot of) white paint, Anna Burke pares down a classic Florida bungalow.

photography by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE

Last summer, designer Anna Burke ran into an old friend at a wedding. A thriving, young Manhattan businessman, he informed her that he'd recently purchased a vacation home in Palm Beach, Florida. After describing the two-bedroom 1930s bungalow, which sits within yards of Worth Avenue, he said, "You know, I think you'd be the perfect person to get my vision. Kind of 'tiki meets Palm Beach.'"

photography by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE

As it happened, Burke understood him perfectly. And after paying a brief visit to the house in early October, she began a 60-day lightning round of renovations--gutting the kitchen and bathrooms, updating amenities, and significantly improving the floor plan by opening up an obstructing wall to allow sunlight to shine throughout.

photography by BRITTANY AMBRDIGE

"With 10-foot ceilings throughout most rooms, the home is gracious, but still manageable," says Burke. To optimize the natural light without sacrificing privacy, the designer covered the home's windows with simple woven-wood shades. The chandelier is crafted from pieces of sandblasted grape wood.

photography by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE

While Burke is known for crafting colorful interiors, this project led her in a whole new direction. "The owner is originally from Cape Cod," she says. "So he wanted to pay homage to this house's Palm Beach roots, but his style is also deeply rooted in the Northeast. Knowing that, much of the decor just fell into place--the blue-and-white palette, the touches of driftwood and rattan. The whole time, I intended to find a place to add more color or a banana-leaf wallpaper, but the house seemed to know exactly what it wanted."

photography by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE

Burke further maintained aesthetic continuity by furnishing the home in a single style and palette. Liberated by the fact that this is a vacation retreat--not a highly personal primary residence--she felt free to impose "a wonderful uniformity" upon its decor. Both bedrooms, for instance, are furnished in practically identical pieces, in the style of a luxury hotel. (The Standard, one of Miami's leading resorts, is among the owner's favorite interiors.)

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