“The first time I visited my neighbors’ home as a boy, I thought, ‘I’d give anything to own such a nice home one day,’” says Timmy Grimes of the Colonial-style house he long admired in Fort Pierce’s St. Lucie Village. Nearly 40 years later, his dream came true when he and his wife, Jennifer, purchased the very same home for themselves and their teenage sons, Jackson and Cooper, and two dogs.
The four-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot dwelling is situated in an ideal locale, on an expansive two-acre lot overlooking the Indian River. It included a four-car garage and separate guest quarters, and was perfect for the indoor-outdoor lifestyle the couple craved. The only issue was the qualities that appealed to Timmy when he was a kid were now dismally out of date, and the home needed some serious TLC to make it work for his family.
The Grimeses called on their longtime friend, interior designer Kerry Allabastro, to help. Allabastro had worked with the couple on their previous home, which happens to be situated right next door to the new one. “She is the basis of every decision we made,” says Jennifer. “She’s the pro, and what she says goes—we trust and adore her.” According to Allabastro, however, both husband and wife were very clear about their priorities. “They love to entertain and often host get-togethers for extended family members and friends who live nearby,” she says. “So they wanted an open floor plan with indoor and outdoor spaces that were casual and relaxed. With two teenage boys and two dogs, they also needed easy-to-maintain furnishings and finishes that would be virtually indestructible.”
After studying the floor plan of the house—which was originally built in 1979 and organized in a classic Colonial style, with formal living and dining spaces on one side of the central entrance foyer, the kitchen and living room on the other, and bedrooms located upstairs—Allabastro made her recommendations. She suggested removing the walls that separated the dated kitchen from the living room, raising the ceiling, repositioning the kitchen, adding a new door to the backyard, and opening up the foyer to bring more natural light into the upstairs bedrooms.
Before any of these suggestions could be addressed, however, the couple needed to completely upgrade the infrastructure, including installing new electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and hurricane-rated windows and doors. Since Timmy and Jennifer run a successful local business, Grimes Heating and Air Conditioning, they could handle much of that aspect of the makeover themselves. And with so many subcontractor friends in the construction business, they were able to easily enlist the right people to take care of all the other layers of the upgrade, including replacing the old red brick veneer on the exterior with white-painted stucco, raising and improving the landscape, adding new exterior railings, and installing a brand new patio and pool in the backyard.
As the guts and the exterior shell of the house were nearing completion, Allabastro worked with the Grimeses to refresh the interiors. They started by gutting every room, most of which were still outfitted with the same shag carpets and floral wallpapers their neighbors had installed 40 years ago. “Jennifer found a fresh new wallpaper from Schumacher that she loved and asked if we could use it somewhere,” says Allabastro. “It was perfect for the dining room, and it also served as the inspiration for the blue and white color palette that we used throughout the house.”
Relying on the new wallpaper as a starting point for the decor, the trio worked to bring the old interiors into the present with a crisp, clean scheme, first by adding character-building elements—white-painted Craftsman-inspired millwork on the walls of living and dining spaces, new railings and newel posts on the staircase, X-beams on the ceiling in the kitchen (which was completely revamped and moved to a more pragmatic location on the other side of the main floor leading out to the patio), shiplap and beadboard on the walls of bedrooms and baths, and a super-durable, wide-plank white oak floor throughout the main level.
While the blue and white palette gives the interiors a contemporary feel, the furnishings bridge the traditional Colonial spirit of the home’s past with its fresh new aura. “We repurposed some of the furnishings from their previous home and paired them with new ones,” says Allabastro. In the living room, for example, a pair of Bergère chairs were recovered in a Lee Jofa ikat fabric, and Pearson swivel chairs were newly upholstered in
fabric from Cowtan & Tout. A new sofa table and cocktail table from Somerset Bay share the space. In the kitchen, the couple’s original barstools around the island are set off by new pendant lighting fixtures from Hudson Valley.
The living area leads out to the new travertine patio and 20-meter pool flanked by a pair of flaming torchères. “As soon as I saw those torchères, I knew we had to have them,” says Timmy. Allabastro refitted a lanai with a new floor and grill and introduced outdoor seating
from Kingsley Bate on the patio for lounging and socializing. Overlooking the pool and located above the four-car garage, the separate guest quarters—where guests often stay for the weekend or the boys play video games and watch television with friends—were refreshed with a new kitchen, custom cabinets, and a low-maintenance linoleum floor.
In the less-frequented public areas of the house on the opposite side of the entrance foyer, Allabastro took the same fresh and casual approach. The former formal living room now serves as a cozy sitting area, where an existing loveseat and an ottoman recovered in fabric from Cowtan & Tout are set off with a new driftwood table and built-in shelves lined with blue grasscloth wallpaper from Schumacher. In the dining room, above new custom wainscoting, the walls are enlivened with the Schumacher wallpaper that inspired the home’s overall color scheme. A sea glass chandelier from Currey & Company brightens existing furnishings, including a Hooker buffet and Bausman and Company dining table. “We used several variations of blue hues to ground the clean, white spaces throughout the house,” notes Allabastro.
The varying shades of blue also set a unique tone for each space: In the master bedroom, a mix of dreamy, sun-washed blues brings a soothing vibe. An Emerson Bentley bed outfitted in luxury bedding from Eastern Accents anchors the space beneath a sculptural light fixture from Palecek; a blue Lexington dresser follows the color scheme. Alternatively, in one of the son’s bedrooms, deep navy and indigo set a more “boyish” tone.
Timmy recalls the reaction of his sons when he and Jennifer first bought the home and saw the condition of everything: “They asked me, ‘What are you doing, Dad?’” But now they love the place they’ve called home since moving in this past December. And, adds Jennifer, “so do the dogs.”
Interior Designer: Kerry Allabastro
Architect: Brent A. Wood
Marble and Wood Flooring: Surfaces Fine Flooring
Interior Trim: Ted Baideme Carpentry (772.528.1198)
Pool: A&G Concrete Pools