This Enchanting Palm Beach Home Is Steeped in Bold Italian-Inspired Design

Kelly Williams does not back down from a challenge; it’s a mentality she’s maintained since childhood. “My father started as a police officer then worked for IBM, while my mother was our town clerk,” recalls Williams. “Both were very smart people who didn’t go to college.” But Williams did go, becoming the first in her family to do so. “I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a lawyer,” she adds. “I wrote my first contract for a new lunchbox when I was eight years old, and made my mom sign it. She was my first client.” Ever the ambitious soul, Williams moved from law to investment management, eventually working for Credit Suisse. By the time she stepped down from her position in 2019, Williams had grown her group’s business to $30 billion in assets. For most, that would’ve been enough to slow down. But Williams is not like most. “I finally had some time to pursue my passion in the arts,” she recalls.

What began as an invitation to join the board at Smithsonian American Art Museum rolled into Williams’s position as the chair of board at the Nantucket Historical Association as well as an invitation to join the board of the New York School of Interior Design. “All of this broadened my network in meeting so many smart and talented people in the design world.” And it helped when, in 2019, Williams and her husband decided to renovate their primary home in Palm Beach, Florida.

“We moved full-time from New York [to Palm Beach], and in 2013 bought a home that I never really loved,” Williams says. “The location was great, as were the water views, but it simply wasn’t a beautiful home.” Six years later, Williams, along with her husband, Andrew, decided to work with architecture firm MP Design & Architecture, Inc. and contractor Sciame Homes to fine-tune the nuts and bolts of their ambitious project. She also worked closely with Mayrock Art, an art advisory. But the interior design? That was all in Williams’s head. First, she focused on the home’s original history. That meant creating a bold, fun home filled with time period pieces such as gondola-inspired sofas and smoked wall mirrors. Yet, for it to feel comfortable, Williams needed to pursue more personal touches.

“I identify with my Italian roots, which come from my mother’s side,” says Williams. “So while the exterior of the house is a traditional Bermuda-style home, the interiors have design elements that are Italian.” Williams cites the late socialite and style icon Marella Agnelli as an inspiration. “My absolute favorite is the apartment that Ward Bennett designed for the Agnellis in Rome. The mix of antiques and rattan furniture—that was a signature of hers and I totally absorbed it into my own home.”

After the two-and-a-half-year renovation, (which was disrupted by the pandemic), was finished, Williams and her husband were asked to host an event for the annual New Wave Art Weekend, which occurs after Art Basel Miami. “We had 125 people from the art world to our home, and I was both anxious and eager to see how people would react to the renovated interiors,” she recalls. Fortunately, the crowd swooned. So much so that several in attendance asked if Williams would be interested in taking on new clients who were mulling over their own renovations. “People would approach to say, for example, how they would’ve never thought of hanging art on a wall with such vivid paint colors or popping wallpaper patterns. In fact, the biggest compliment I received that night was, ‘This is the home of a brave person.’”

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