Heidi Welker- The Veranda Project
With more than 30 years of interior design experience, it’s no surprise that Heidi Welker is the creative brain power behind the Veranda Project. She completed this world defining design while working for Celerie Kemble in NYC, however Heidi has recently relocated to Brisbane and opened up her own firm, Heidi Welker Interiors. The Veranda Project boasts Palecek in every room and we simply cant wait to see her work her magic here in Australia.
What was the initial brief for the Veranda Project?
Our client came to us with plans for a gorgeous home on the waterfront in Florida. She sought to create a holiday home for her family that was elegant and stylish but also comfortable and relaxed. She was intrigued by traditional British Colonial architecture but also by the simplistic lines of Balinese style. Merging glamour and comfort would become our goal for this home.
What were the biggest challenges you came across in this project?
Our client had a beautiful collection of dark, mahogany British Colonial antiques she wanted to use. When you think of antique furniture you think of refined living, not wet bathing suit bottoms on white upholstery. Yet, that’s what we did! We pared the heavy pieces with wide-open, airy walkways dressed in window pane weave curtain panels. Clean white plaster walls were topped with thatched roof ceilings and upholstery was covered in white outdoor fabric. This mix of traditional and modern, casual and refined made this home both sophisticated and fun! The punchy pink exterior, which can be seen from every window, reminds you this is a space to relax and enjoy.
Did you carry through any original features throughout the project?
Views of water are captivating from the moment you open the front door, whether it’s the glistening knife edge infinity pool or the electric aqua of the ocean inlet beyond. We wanted to bring the essence of tranquil waters and ocean breeze into each room. Four of the five bedrooms feature a four poster bed, some with fabric bed hangings that billow in the wind. When not painted white, stucco walls were painted soft sea foam and conch shell pink echoing the colours of nature outside the window. Natural materials were used in heavy rotation from sisal carpets, wicker furniture, copper lanterns and grasscloth walls.
What was your design intend?
To use every space. Each room can be used at any time of day for any purpose. Lunch can be served in the kitchen at the modern Italian dining table with antique French iron chairs or alfresco on the cushioned rattan barrel chairs on the veranda. A morning coffee can be enjoyed in the kitchen sitting area or on the chaise in the bedroom. We even designed a custom sectional sofa to fit under the open stairwell creating another nook for gathering. It’s the perfect place for a wine and cheese pairing.
Where did your inspiration come from?
Our first inclination was to look at the Caribbean homes of Oliver Messel whose architecture perfectly captures the relaxed feel of British Colonial design in the islands. A dive into that era of design history brought us to the whimsical style of Elsie de Wolfe. The metal palm tree bed in the guest room was inspired by her tree columns at Villa Trianon.
What was your favourite element of this design project?
We got to use all of our favourite materials, tricks and trades! When creating a space that features such diverse design elements you get to mix them in ways you may not get to in other projects. A glossy tortoise coffee table is paired with heavily textured grasscloth walls. Cane and mahogany dining chairs are topped with a modern, whimsical leaf pattern fabric. Bone inlay side tables sit atop sisal carpets laid out in marvellous colours and patterns. And there is wicker galore! Sconces, pendants, mirrors, dining chairs and pool loungers all made in my favourite material!
Design by Kemble Interiors. Photography by Douglas Friedman