Photography by Troy Campbell
Doing a complete redesign of an existing home can be more challenging than starting from scratch with new construction. When a client asked Fort Lauderdale-based interior designer Jaime Blomquist to do just that for a home at Admirals Cove in Jupiter, she had to deal with unwanted load-bearing walls, a barnlike ceiling, asymmetry and other problems.
“When you have a blank canvas, it’s very easy to do a design,” she says. “When you’re doing an existing structure, you have to consider the conditions and think harder about how to make your design come to fruition.”
Blomquist came to the interior design business indirectly. She first attended business school and then worked in modeling and acting. “But I realized they weren’t my passion,” she says. Interior design, as it turned out, became her obsession, as she’s owned Jaime Blomquist Interiors for 17 years now.
The owner of the house in Admirals Cove wanted a more open floor plan and an updated, modern look for the 3,200-square-foot home with three bedrooms, three full baths and a powder room.
“We started by gutting it,” Blomquist says.
She chose a color palette of blue, white, cream and greige. Except for the bathrooms, flooring throughout the home is rich walnut planking.
One of the first steps in the complex process was reworking the roof trusses to get rid of the high, vaulted ceilings that were popular in the early 1990s. “The ceiling followed the trusses, and it was like a massive ski slope,” Blomquist says. “We needed to bring the ceiling down.”
She removed a load-bearing wall in what had been a small, enclosed foyer, leaving the support pillars and transforming them into design elements by boxing them out and adding millwork. To make the space seem even more open, she changed the single front door to a double with glass panels framed in walnut.
The owner loves boating and wanted nautical elements in the design. So just inside the doors, Blomquist installed a circular waterjet marble compass, correctly oriented for direction. The walnut flooring then had to be meticulously pieced around it. Above the compass hangs a graceful, half-spherical chandelier made of brushed nickel with glass accents and delicate white shades.
“I look at chandeliers like jewelry,” she says.
Walls of the foyer are covered with shimmering mother-of-pearl wallpaper, and an oval mirror with a chain-patterned frame hangs above a shagreen console table.
“The foyer was one of the more challenging areas,” Blomquist says. “We had to stay within the confines of the load-bearing pillars, and even though everything wasn’t perfectly symmetrical, we had to trick the eye into feeling like it is.”
The Living Room
To achieve the open floor plan the client wanted, Blomquist removed another load-bearing wall between what was a galley kitchen and the living room to make it one large space, replacing the wall’s support with a triple laminated beam. She also opened the back wall of the living room, changing a pair of French doors to a wall of glass sliders that open to the loggia so the two areas can become one large space for entertaining. The tie beam needed to be re-engineered to create a new support system, and the sunken floor had to be raised to accommodate the new sliding doors. When the clients desire privacy, sheer silk traverse draperies with wide gray horizontal lines can be drawn across the glass.
The new pitched ceiling, paneled in walnut accented with white wood beams, is a focal point, but symmetry was once again a challenge.
“It needed something besides white drywall,” she says. “The trusses dictated the custom ceiling design, and the ceiling design dictated the center lines of the living room and kitchen. The millwork creates the illusion of symmetry.”
Suspended from the ceiling is a chandelier with curved, polished nickel arms and candle-shaped sconces. A built-in white wood wall unit provides shelving and cabinetry, and waterjet marble clads the inset behind the TV screen.
The large area rug has a subtle, deconstructed pattern in blue, gray and beige, and the custom twin sofas are covered with a creamy, linen-cotton blend with nailhead accents.
“I like to design furniture for a room so it’s just the right scale,” Blomquist says. “Furniture dimensions are as important as architectural dimensions.”
Behind one of the sofas is a clean-lined, gray wood console table with nickel accents. A display of lanterns, a graceful sea fan and blue canisters add visual interest. Gray wood end tables hold lamps made from handblown mercury glass. Twin coffee tables have polished nickel bases and antiqued mirror tops to reflect natural light. Two swivel club chairs upholstered in a deep blue textured animal print add color, and a glass-topped drink table between them has a polished nickel base with a decorative shape reminiscent of earrings.
In the kitchen, the design of white built-in cabinetry mirrors the wall unit in the living room. Long, brushed nickel pulls add visual interest, and a waterjet Thassos and Calacatta marble mosaic creates an eye-catching backsplash. An arched panel that hides the exhaust hood opens horizontally like a garage door.
A long walnut wood island with a Cambria quartz top that matches the countertops holds the sink and dishwasher.
“I wanted the island to be a statement piece, and the walnut is a continuation of the walnut in the rest of the house,” Blomquist says.
White stools with a blue pattern on the back and blue leather seats contrast beautifully with the dark wood.
To create a breakfast nook, she removed part of a kitchen wall and then enclosed a portion of the loggia. The table has gracefully curved, dark wood legs and a gray wood top. Chairs are framed in matching gray wood and upholstered with self-welted faux ostrich skin. Above the table hangs a classic chandelier with curved, clear glass arms suspended from dramatic glass spheres.
Removing yet another wall opened the dining room to the kitchen and living room.
“They wanted an intimate dining space, but they also wanted it to be light and bright,” Blomquist says.
The tray ceiling is framed with white molding. Pale blue raw silk covers the top half of the walls; below it is contrasting white wainscoting. A wool area rug in tones of blue and greige features a burnout pattern.
The dual-pedestal dining table is stained gray wood with nickel inlays. Chairs are upholstered in blue, gray and white cotton with an ikat pattern, and wood curves on the backs mimic curves in the polished nickel chandelier above. A gray wood buffet has brushed nickel edging and a scroll pattern on the front. Lamps on top of it are mother-of-pearl.
Opposite the dining room is a bar area. Walnut cabinetry with curved shelving that pulls outward for easy access frames an insert of black, white and gray waterjet glass with a peony design. Cambria quartz tops the walnut bar itself, which holds a hammered metal sink with a polished nickel faucet, as well as refrigerator and freezer drawers.
White molding frames rectangles of greige silk on a focal wall in the master bedroom. The tufted gray headboard with nailhead trim has a box pattern, complementing the pattern on the wall. Wood nightstands with a textured faux linen finish hold brushed nickel lamps with a cutout pattern that mimics coral. A chandelier has curves and glass spheres that give it a transitional flair, while soft blue linen traverse draperies hang at double doors with sidelights leading to a sitting room.
Flooring in the master bath features a waterjet marble inset that mimics a rug; the pattern is similar to the wood shapes on the dining room chairbacks, a pattern that occurs throughout the home.
“I like having the same design elements in different spaces,” Blomquist says.
White cabinetry has polished nickel pulls, and vanities are topped with Cambria quartz. The wall behind the built-in tub and seamless glass shower is beige marble accented with a white waterjet mosaic strip with a clover pattern similar to the tub and the polished nickel chandelier above. A vanity stool is made from stained gray wood upholstered in blue metallic linen.
“We kept the cabinets classic, so we could come in with some more playful elements,” Blomquist says.
Walls of the powder room are clad in breathtaking waterjet Thassos marble and mother-of-pearl. The sink is also mother-of-pearl, and it frames the mirror as well. The countertop is Palissandro bluette marble, and a starfish-shaped drain cover adds a whimsical touch.
A Timeless Treasure
What was once a home with closed-in rooms and a dated style now has open, airy spaces and a look that is modern, yet timelessly classic. It’s a place for easy entertaining, private relaxation and making memories for years to come.