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By Elaine Markoutsas | Photo: by Mike Butler | July 6, 2017
Bucking all the beach-inspired trends, Kaufman Segal Design reimagines a Chicago couple’s eclectic style for a home in Florida that is now their colorful, comfortable, well-accessorized escape.
As is often the case with winter-weary Chicagoans, Megan and Jordan Dorfman regularly went to Florida in search of sun and quickly fell in love with a particular surfer stretch near Delray Beach. After renting for six years, they decided to go house hunting. Megan found a midcentury ranch around 100 yards from the ocean, tucked away behind arched gates and a huge ficus hedge, and instantly connected. “It was not a big, new or modern gleaming ocean home,” she says. “It was old-Florida style—French doors that open to the back, where you could hear a little fountain by the pool.”
Despite its charm, the kitchen was dark and outdated, and the decor didn’t suit her fun and colorful style. “Megan told me it’s a really happy home but it needs work,” says Tom Segal, partner in Kaufman Segal Design, the firm that designed the couple’s city home. Along with senior designer Scott Grooms, Segal was again enlisted to translate her style to suit the bright, sunny location. “You tend to design differently in Chicago because of the winter climate,” says Segal, “so their home here is a more formal palette with dark floors and thicker, more textural fabrics. In Florida, everything competes with the brightness of the sun, so we went with a more neutral palette with pops of vibrant color.” Over time and about three additions, the beach cottage grew to 4,100 square foot with four bedrooms (one now used as an office) and 4 ½ baths, with the pecky pine ceilings in the living room and master bedroom raised to 14 feet.
While a crosscut polished travertine tile floor throughout set a neutral tone, the ink spots of rich greens, berry and purple hues were inspired by a Dorothy Cosonas for Knoll velvet textile. In a subtle nod to the location, Segal and Grooms riffed off of beach themes such as an architectural display of resin turtle shells as art in the entry. It was actually Megan’s idea, after seeing a similar display at the Kelly Wearstler-designed restaurant La Marea at The Tides Hotel in South Beach. “Megan is an amazing accessorizer,” Segal says. “She lives in a styled house, but the thing that keeps it from looking too staged is that she has picked so many things out herself. It works because she has great taste.” On the adjacent wall, a mirror with an undulating resin frame feels like it could be crafted from giant coral shells. “We like hinting at these things,” Segal says, so the look is “casual and beachy yet sophisticated.”
“I like a little bit of glamour but an organic feel, with layers,” Megan says, who enjoys curating “little things that catch my eye” from travels and antiquing along Old Dixie Highway.
A pair of square columns that frame the passageway into the adjacent family and dining rooms were painted to match the walls. “We didn’t want anything contrasting. We like to give the eye someplace interesting to look without overpowering,” Segal explains. In the family room, he created a feature wall with a linear liquid-metal striae wallpaper. It’s a striking backdrop for a custom-made walnut credenza with bronze hardware that lends warmth and depth. While the deep-seated sectional sofa is a neutral cotton boucle, other fabrics mix eclectic patterns, like the black-and-white zigzag on the acrylic legged ottoman; an impressionistic floral velvet on a midcentury-modern style brushed brass chair; and a larger-scale flame-stitch pattern on the back of a leather seated banquette, teamed with an Eero Saarinen pedestal table and chairs.
The designers teamed up with Danielle Rivera to completely renovate the kitchen and replace the existing dark-cherry cabinets with a lighter gray version, as well as swapping out the yellow and maroon marble counters with a light Cristello quartzite. Driftwood hues and variegated glass tile, translucent quartzite counters and shelving in lieu of upper cabinets on one side of the cooktop create the open, airy vibe that better suits life in the sunny climate.
“She cooks a lot and entertains,” Segal says. “It’s part of a whole participatory event, so she really wanted the space open.”
The giant palms dictated the bright colors on the terrace, where nestled under the trees on the patio space is the couple’s favorite spot.
“It’s like a jungle with very dense foliage,” Megan says. “You can hear the cacophony of frogs; it’s very serene and quiet. It’s our private oasis.” And not surprisingly, people love hanging out there.
Megan’s relationship with Segal goes back 11 years, and as she says, “he just gets me, and he allows me to be part of the process.” They all agree that the process has yielded some spectacular results. “We spend as much time here as we possibly can,” Megan says. “It’s our happy place.”
Delray Beach, Fla.
Kaufman Segal Design
ABC CARPET & HOME
Rugs in dining room and master bedroom
Chandelier in family room
Table lamp in master bedroom
Custom sectional in family room, chairs in bedroom
DESIGN WITHIN REACH
Richard Schultz for Knoll patio table
Hair-on-hide bench in master bedroom
EDWARD FERRELL & LEWIS MITTMAN
Chameleon 59 chandelier in dining room
Phillip Jeffries wallcoverings
Jessica Zoob chair fabric in family room, Eden Amaranth wallcovering in powder room
Milo Baughman chair in family room
THE WOVEN COMPANY
Shade on powder room door