This Old Florida Bungalow Is Proof Big Isn’t Necessarily Better

May 14, 2024 | Press and Magazines

Designer Chenault James created a vacation for the senses.

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Owning a second home comes with a lot of perks, but Chenault James believes one of the best is that you get to have more fun with the interiors than you typically would in your main house. Both the founder of Chenault James Interiors and her client are from Louisville, Kentucky, but the homeowners migrate to Delray Beach, Florida, for the winter and wanted to give their five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom beach house a complete interior overhaul. Though it had been tinkered with over several years, it was time for a full, color-drenched facelift.

“Their house in Kentucky is very traditional and refined, and we wanted this home to be a complete departure,” James tells House Beautiful. “Our client was ready to go full tilt on color and wanted happy energy when she walked in.” Her client’s waterfront home is one of the few remaining “old Delray” houses still standing, with a yellow stucco and cement tile roof and original terrazzo floors that help capture an undeniable Florida charm. “Most of the charming old cottages have been torn down and replaced, so it’s extra special that it’s still there, tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac that backs up to the Intracoastal,” she adds.

Her client’s family spent years vacationing in the beachside city, and James wanted to incorporate the happiness and joy of those times in the space. Along with Palm Beach influences in the color scheme and whimsical decor, the designer filled the interiors with vintage finds, family memorabilia, and refreshed furnishings, allowing her to save a bit of cash to use elsewhere in the renovation, like in the now fully updated kitchen.

James describes herself as “resourceful by nature,” so experimenting with different ways to bring life back into vintage pieces—whether they were bought in West Palm Beach or passed down to her client—with spray paint, new upholstery, or modern hardware suited her and made the end results feel more personal. “We didn’t follow a single rule,” James says, “and I think we made a cacophony of colors sing together.”


“This small little entry was so drab and unwelcoming before, so I love that it’s become a little jewel box that gives you a little taste of what you’re about to experience once you quickly move beyond it,” James explains. Her favorite pieces? “The Mario Lopez Torres crane lamp and the reproduction Oushak rug that we custom colored in the most delicious combo.”

Rug: Nashville Rug Gallery. Wallpaper: Celerie Kemble for Schumacher. Chest: vintage. Hat: Sarah Bray Bermuda (on door).

Living Room

“Gosh, there is just too much eye candy in here,” James says. “It was especially fun to be able to use bubble gum pink because it’s rare when that works.” Nothing says Palm Beach like the combination of green and pink.

Grasshopper table: Mario Lopez Torres from Circa Who. Drapery: Porter Teleo. Chairs: client’s own. Trim on chair pillows: Samuel & Sons. Cabinet: Noir.

James leaned on rattan furnishings, another staple in any Palm Beach–inspired decor scheme, throughout the beachside home.

Tree: Canvas Nursery. Basket: TJ Maxx. Rattan chair cushions: in Tania Vartan fabric. Wicker vase: Target.

Sitting Room

“I especially love the sofas with the crisp, clear French blue fabric and the contrasting blue brush fringe on the club chairs—another nod to a vintage vibe,” James says. “The coffee table is pretty special too—we custom designed it and had it made locally.”

Chairs: Highland House, in Christopher Farr Cloth fabric with Samuel & Sons trim. Sofas: Highland House, in Jim Thompson Fabric fabric with Samuel & Sons trim. Pillows: Trina Turk (on sofa). Lamps: client’s own. Ceiling fixture: Coleen & Company.

We’ve been seeing an uptick in seashell decor, especially since the Kips Bay Palm Beach Show House. It appears James’s client got the memo, since the books and accessories are all part of her existing collection.


“We intentionally kept the original whitewashed wood ceiling,” James says. “We needed the ‘rough’ contrast with all the new elements and fresh colors; plus, I liked the idea of not stripping down the character of the old place and the vintage vibe it helped retain.”

Sofa: Bunny Williams Home, in Jim Thompson Fabric fabric. Pillows: Quadrille Fabrics and MD Home Collection. Rattan chair: client’s own, with cushions in MK Collection fabric. Rug: Nashville Rug Gallery. Wicker tables: Mainly Baskets. Yellow lamps: client’s own, with shades in Wayne Pate fabric by Quality Lighting. Wicker frog basket: The Nest. Ceiling light antern: Coleen & Company. Green chair: client’s own. Drapery fabric and trim: Schumacher.


“The kitchen previously had tan ceramic tile, which had to be replaced,” James explains. “A black-and-white Greek key pattern was just the touch of Palm Beach that we needed.”

Floor tile: Mirth Studio. Backsplash tile: Sonoma Tilemakers. Cabinet paint: Light Blue, Farrow & Ball. Countertop: Quartzite from Natural Stone.

When James realized she had the perfect opportunity to use the Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC Grove Citron print, she didn’t hesitate to take it. Even doubling up on the pattern with the Roman shade and the wallpaper didn’t give James her fill, so she expanded the print into the laundry room, which is set just off the kitchen.

Mirror: At Home. Counter stools: Selamat, in Brunschwig & Fils fabric. Wallpaper: Brunschwig & Fils (in stairwell). Carpet: Stanton Carpet.

Dining Room

The dining room basically serves as the calming balance to the rest of the playful interior. The raffia wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries on the ceiling adds depth and moodiness to the space, and James’s DIY expertise shines through in the finials she made herself “out of army green shells that I bought at a drugstore while on vacation in Siesta Key,” she adds.

“None of us liked the huge, dark fish painting that my client’s uncle painted, but we knew it had to stay because of the sentimental value,” James says. “The most satisfying part about designing this room is that we figured out how to make the fish painting come alive, and I actually love the painting now. We left it in its original rough-looking aluminum frame to keep it authentic.”

Chairs and wall basket: Blue Ocean Traders. Chandelier: Made Goods. Table: vintage. Console: Maggie Cruz Home. Lamps: vintage. Rug: custom, Nashville Rug Gallery. Wall paint: Lemon Grove, Benjamin Moore.

Powder Room

Using Meg Braff Designs Rainforest wallpaper in here was an “easy choice,” says James. “I want to eat it with a spoon.” The bamboo vanity was custom made by a local shop and painted in Jovial by Sherwin-Williams; the mirror above it was a vintage score in West Palm Beach.

Sconces: Etsy. Vanity hardware: Addison Weeks. Faucet: Waterworks. Towel rod: My Knobs. Wall art: Museum Bees by Trace Mayer. Hand towels: client’s own.

Primary Bedroom

“We worked with the existing upholstered bed because the fabric was in good shape and our client loves blue, so this was the starting point,” James says. “Mixing in the salmon color made the navy feel happier and more playful.”

Lamps: Chairish, with custom shades by Quality Lighting with Houlès trim. Bench: Serena & Lily, in Schumacher fabric. Pillows (on bench) and drapes: Christopher Farr Cloth. Mirrors: Oly Studio. Bedding: Leontine Linens. Drapery hardware: Kravet. Flamingo painting: Heather Lancaster at Spalding Nix Fine Art. Cow painting: client’s own. Wallcovering: Phillip Jeffries.

Kids’ Bedroom

“This room is for the cutest little brother and sister pair who aren’t ready to split up yet into their own rooms. It was a fun challenge to make sure the design didn’t lean too heavily on the feminine or masculine side,” James says. “My absolute favorite things in this room are the vintage Italian pottery lamps I found in West Palm Beach. I love Italian pottery, and the turquoise and yellow was too perfect.” The midcentury-style lamp shades were custom made by Massimo Frank Lighting.

Headboards: custom, Delray Upholstery, in Peter Dunham Textiles fabricCoverlets and shams: Jane WilnerLinens: Matouk Schumacher CollectionFloor lamp: client’s own. Drapery: Gray Lines LinenPaint: Wythe Blue, Benjamin Moore.

Primary Bathroom

“There is a subtle aqua in the bedroom ikat fabric that we wanted to carry into the bathroom to connect the two spaces and keep it fresh and light,” James explains. “A classic, timeless fretwork bamboo wallpaper seemed fitting, hearkening back to our Palm Beach inspiration. I love the combo of aqua and yellow, so why not add a pop of lemon yellow, which also ties in the antique hand-colored lithographs of sea life.”

Wallpaper: Quadrille Fabrics. Bath towel: Leontine Linens. Artwork: Panteek. Accent table: Blue Ocean Traders.

Pool Deck

Would it be a proper beach house without a stunning in-ground pool? We don’t think so. James didn’t need to do much to the outdoor patio area, but it holds its own simply with the greenery and the client’s own blue-and-white patio furniture.

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TV: SamsungChair: Palecek, in Peter Fasano fabricLight: Shades from the Midnight SunWallcovering: Schumacher (foyer).


Every appliance is concealed by painted paneling. Counter stools: Artistic FramePendants: Weplight, with Radish Moon fabricBacksplash: Tiles of Ezra.

Breakfast nook

Bowman chose a seafoam green for the spot where the family enjoys casual meals. Wallcovering: Phillip JeffriesChandelier: Julie NeillChairs: Design Within Reach, in Pierre Frey fabricTable: custom.

Dining Room

Bunk Room

Bowman turned a tiny space into a spare bedroom for the children’s friends. Floor tile: Mirth StudioWallcovering: ThibautPaint: Cloud White (trim, bunks) and In Your Eyes (ceiling), Benjamin Moore.

Girl’s Room

The room was decorated so that (optimistically) it will last through her teen years. Paint: Sprout, Sherwin-WilliamsWallcovering: Pacific Designs International (ceiling). Nightstand: Chelsea TextilesSconces: PalecekCurtains: Lisa Fine TextilesBedding: MatoukBed: Coley Home.

Primary Bathroom


Painted cement tile by Sabine Hill and Perennials performance fabric can withstand post-pool hangouts. Paint: Marry Me (cabinets), Benjamin MooreWallcovering: Pacific Designs InternationalSofa: vintage.


Pool House

Shutters painted in Pink Cloud by Benjamin Moore are a subtle departure from the neighboring homes—yet still wholly Floridian.