A 1970s Florida Ranch Gets a Bright and Charming Transformation
"It looked like an overripe banana," says designer Kara Miller, laughing, about the 1970s rambler she renovated in Tequesta, Florida. While the dated palette and disjointed layout needed a cohesive refresh, all jokes aside, it felt like home. "There's a certain familiarity with a ranch," she says. "Although I was renovating it, I wanted to maintain its original comforts and charms." The designer is no stranger to a project (she's done more than 40 renovations) and values preserving the past while incorporating modern-day functionality. From saving the living room's original beams to reconfiguring the kitchen floor plan, she updated the three-bedroom, two-bath ranch to best suit her family of four. A balance of traditional silhouettes and vintage finds brought a relaxed sensibility to every room, where tonal blues, nuanced neutrals, and distinctive textures nod to the coast, grounding the revitalized Florida ranch with decade-defying character and a sense of place. "I see the best in a run-down property," Miller says. "You could tell there was a lot of love in this home over the years. I wanted to honor its past with this new chapter."
Wow at the Welcome
To make a statement, Miller refreshed the entry (above) from floor-to-ceiling mirrors and outdated columns with Growing Nasturiums wallpaper by Waterhouse Wallhangings and moldings painted Benjamin Moore's Spring Sky (674). "I typically save patterns for baths but knew it would really give the entry that wow factor," says Miller. The vintage woven chairs warm up this vibrant space, and eclectic marine prints discovered in The Bahamas pair swimmingly with her grandmother's china on the wall.
Recognize Good Bones
While the yellow walls and dark beams were unsightly, Miller instantly saw this room's character. "I just knew white paint would save the day," Miller says of covering the original vaulted beams and walls with fresh coats of Benjamin Moore's White Dove (OC-17). "The success of a room lies in the mix." She balanced a vintage Brighton chair with a modern Visual Comfort pendant and softened the look with Norbar Fabrics' Bomar drapes.
Bank On the Banquette
Miller connected the dining room with the kitchen by losing a wall and making the ceiling height consistent. What came next turned into her favorite corner in the house. "I am now a forever banquetter," says Miller. Her family eats all their meals—from formal fetes to taco Tuesdays—on the banquette and chairs, both by Ballard Designs and covered in pizza-proof performance fabrics. An Old World Design lantern hangs above an antique dining table with plenty of seats for guests.
Brighten with Blue and White
Like the best recipes, this redo started from scratch. With dark cabinetry, mismatched ceiling heights, and close quarters, this outdated kitchen was ready for a renovation. Miller gutted the kitchen to create an open floor plan that's breezy and welcoming. To complement the natural light from the porch, she painted the cabinets and walls Benjamin Moore's White Dove (OC-17). But an all-white kitchen was not part of her plan, so she installed a light blue backsplash from TileBar and stately navy-and-gold pendants by Mark D. Sikes for Hudson Valley Lighting to bring depth to the sunny space. The porcelain-topped island with RH stools is a hub for homework and grab-and-go breakfasts.
Create a Harmonious Balance
To bring a little architectural interest to the main bedroom's true-to-a-ranch 8-foot ceiling, Miller added planks with beams. New impact windows are flanked with neutral draperies to soften the space, while a Thibaut raffia wallcovering warms the dreamy bedroom. Schweitzer Linen bedding and a playful Biscuit Home pillow complement the patterned Quadrille upholstered headboard. "The mixture of textures and materials makes this bedroom feel so cozy," says Miller. Above the bed are photos Miller took while at The Dunmore on Harbour Island in The Bahamas.
Bring In Character
Miller gutted the main bath and reworked the floor plan. When she had a choice between installing an extra vanity or a freestanding tub, she took the plunge. The designer, who says she loves taking a bath at the end of a long day, opted for a single large vanity and a custom-painted soaker from Vintage Tub & Bath. "One of my favorite color combinations is navy and light blue," Miller says about the dark tub complementing the Sister Parish wallpaper.
Design For Room to Grow
For Miller's children, she designed more mature bedrooms that were smart on space (trundle beds for friends staying overnight) but big on personality (statement wallpaper on the ceiling by House of Harris and Quadrille).
Hit Refresh on Small Spaces
The powder room's original layout still functioned, it just needed some simple swaps to make a big impact. A new porcelain countertop and textured Visual Comfort sconces lightened up the small space. But trading the not-so-mellow yellow walls for the eye-catching Casa Branca's Papavero wallpaper was the game changer. "I love natural textures in any format," shares Miller. "It adds so much warmth to the smallest of spaces."