Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Small Wonder: Delray Designer Transforms Small Cottage With Big Ideas

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Small Wonder: Delray Designer Transforms Small Spaces With Big Ideas

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Delray Beach designer Erin Paige Pitts transforms a small, timeworn cottage with big style and even larger livability.

Written by BRAD MEEPhotography by ROBERT BRANTLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

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“The only thing we kept was the existing concrete structure and the roof,” said interior designer Erin Paige Pitts, describing the vintage, 2,000-square-foot 1946 home she and her husband, Gregory, recently remodeled in Delray Beach. Pitts, principal of Erin Paige Pitts Interiors, focuses on coastal properties and has offices in Delray Beach and Maryland, where the Pitt family resides. Florida’s sunshine and Pitts’ expanding Florida clientele draw them to Delray Beach, and they couldn’t be happier. “We’re only a bike ride from the water, and we absolutely adore the house,” Erin explained. And why wouldn’t they? The one-time derelict dwelling—home to a choppy floor plan and plain-Jane features—is now a showcase of open, light-filled spaces and savvy small-house style that makes living there a treat for the Pitts’ young family. Pitts shared a number of tricks she masterfully used to transform the home from tired to inspired.
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Pitts favors neutral tones for the interior’s backdrop, surfaces and larger furnishings. A consistent neutral palette helps the spaces feel larger and flow seamlessly into each other, she said. When it comes to pops of brighter colors, the designer is very calculating. “I use color sparingly and deliberately to connect the rooms,” she said, describing the teal tones woven throughout the décor.
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“Light wood tones work best in beach houses,” said Pitts, who loves the look of cerused oak because it captures the natural shades of sand. “Walnut doesn’t feel as beachy,” she explained. In the dining room, she anchored the space with a light-toned wood table and surrounded it with a mix of white-and-strawcolored wicker chairs that foster the space’s casual charm. In the nearby kitchen, Pitts chose cerused oak to form the base of the coral-stone-topped waterfall island.
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The original home had no entry, but today a small foyer welcomes visitors inside with modern, streamlined décor that provides a hint of the highstyle interior that follows. Pitts purposefully kept the ceiling at its original 8-foot height to define the foyer and differentiate it from the interior’s loftier rooms. A cerused oak shelf, large painting and cube-shaped ottomans furnish the entry. “The cubes provide additional seating for other parts of the house,” Pitts said.
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“Texture adds warmth and depth,” Pitts said. She used highly tactile elements and materials to infuse the home with character. From shell-filled bowls and wicker chairs to sisal rugs and woven mango light fixtures, texture thrives without creating the distraction that abundant colors and patterns often add. “If you include the visual interest of texture, you don’t need as much of the others,” the designer explained.
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“You can’t live in a small space with lots of clutter,” Pitts said. Throughout the home, she chose a minimum of large, clean-lined furnishings (including functional sectionals and cocktail tables) rather than a multitude of smaller sofas, chairs and accent tables. Simple forms, exposed legs and “floating” bases give these furnishings the clean, modern look Pitts desired. “They help make the house feel light and airy.”
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“I love homes that you can see all the way through when you step inside,” Pitts said. She removed the home’s original interior walls and reconfigured the floor plan to create this effect in the small 2,000-square-foot dwelling. “People enter and can’t believe how big the house feels inside.” The designer used honed-and-filled coral stone floors inside and out to create a seamless transition between the two areas and installed 20 feet of collapsible doors that open to the patio, expanding the home’s living space.
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“I have a love affair with the ocean,” Pitts said. Using art, accessories and materials, she infused her home with references to the coast—its waves, sand and pebbles. “Because we aren’t on the water, I had to bring in as much as I could,” she explained. Pitts also used reflective materials throughout to make the space feel larger.
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“There are huge differences in whites,” said Pitts, who chose two of her favorites to foster the interior’s light-filled, open look and feel. Her preferred white is Benjamin Moore’s Super White, which is the color she chose for the walls, trim and millwork. For the ceilings, she selected Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, which is slightly warmer in tone. “I didn’t want the overhead surfaces to have a glare,” she said. She further explained that the way a white affects an individual interior depends largely on its spaces and light.
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Forget closed doors and bulky cabinets. Instead, choose open shelves and exposed storage to make small spaces look and feel larger. In the tight master bathroom, for example, Pitts floated a vanity topped with Calcutta Gold marble and created open shelves of cerused oak for towels. Below, woven containers hold everything from makeup and a hair dryer to toiletries and tissues. “I love baskets,” she said. “They’re as functional as they are decorative.”
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To see more of Pitts’ interior designs, visit erinpaigepittsinteriors.com.

This story comes from our May/June 2017 issue. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine
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