Local Color

By staff October 1, 2008

“Color is everything,” says interior designer Pat Bibbee of Charleston, W.Va., and she proves her point in the 100 Central condominium she designed for Charleston-turned-Sarasota residents Ann and Paul Moran.

Bibbee and her clients collaborated on their vivid new condo, choosing a fresh tropical palette of coral, lime and white. The results show that “you can use Florida colors in a sophisticated way,” says Bibbee (of Pat Bibbee Designs), whose work has appeared in national shelter magazines and on HGTV’s Homes Across America.

“There is something so pretty about Old

Florida, but in my design lifetime I’ve noticed a tremendous turn,” says Bibbee. “In the 1960s Florida design was colorful, bright and different from up North. Then it went to Tuscan. To me, Old Florida has so much more appeal.”

As children, both Bibbee and Ann Moran visited grandparents who lived in Florida. “The memories have stayed with me,” Bibbee says. “I wanted to recapture the prettiness of Old Florida, but in a new way. I love it contemporary, bright and clear.”

Throughout the two-bedroom condo, the palette is taupe with flashes of lime green and deep tones of coral. Bibbee believes the most sophisticated statements are made by choosing three colors and repeating them in interesting ways. “I like the color to move around and connect one room to another,” she says. And here it does. Neutral taupe draperies are edged with coral in the living room, picking up the bold coral sofas and a subtle coral print on taupe chairs.

In the den, the same textured jacquard dot used as a contrasting hem on living room sofas now completely covers a Pearson recliner.  Lampshades are coral. Even the guest bath ceiling is coral, a bold counterpoint to its white Brunswig & Fils wallcovering with taupe crustaceans and sea shells. The master bedroom, a combination of lime, coral and white, is both eye-popping and refreshing. “Ann’s a trompe l’oeil artist. She likes to live with color as much as I do,” says Bibbee. “You can go stronger with color in Sarasota; it’s absorbed by the light.”

That may be why the hot coral guest bedroom is so alluring. A tonal stripe wallcovering from Thibaut is paired with a Brunswig coral-and-white print used for custom duvets, draperies and as companion wallpaper in the adjoining bath. Though it reads as a toile, the design is actually a repeat of giant pineapple vases.

In both bedrooms, the designer’s magic with high-end fabrics and decorator details elevates white furniture by Stanley, an affordable retail brand, to new levels of chic. The simple white wood pieces pop against the brilliant colors and are a nod to Old Florida, Bibbee says. Other coastal references are coral-shaped drawer pulls that Ann found at Anthropologie, a contemporary coral-branch entry hall lamp, hand-painted carp on an art-quality Burts Cason lamp and a shell collection inherited from Ann’s mother.  “They give the condo a sense of history: I collected these with my mother in Florida from the time I was eight years old,” Moran explains.

Still, the beach theme is soft and subliminal. “Ann is not a beach person; she is a golf person; and Paul is an avid golfer—president of the West Virginia Golf Association,” Bibbee says. In Sarasota the couple plays at Sara Bay Country Club, and they didn’t want to be burdened with home maintenance and sandy floors, Moran explains. 

Bibbee was in the throes of refurbishing the public rooms at the West Virginia governor’s mansion (and decorating the fourth home she’s done for the Morans in the past 30 years), when her friends began to seriously consider the Sarasota condo. “Pat is my best friend and West Virginia’s best designer,” Moran declares. “She’s decorated for several West Virginia governors, including Jay and Sharon Rockefeller, and does vacation homes from Texas to Florida. Naturally, I wanted her opinion.”

Bibbee hopped on a plane, dropped off her bags and took a Sarasota Segway tour. “I was amazed: Sarasota is creating a sophisticated urban environment with places of great wealth, great views and great golf,” she says. “It was a perfect fit for Ann and Paul. They didn’t want to be in a car all the time, and they could walk everywhere to experience the terrific restaurants and galleries downtown.”

What she didn’t love was the furniture arrangement in the condo’s model apartments. “The first task of interior design is to make a room livable, so people are drawn into the space,” she says. All the walls in the condo were glass except for one in the back. The model had a dining room table in that spot, and though it took up the majority of the room, you couldn’t see the wonderful views while you were eating.”

The dining room was relocated and a TV went into that space. “He has to have places to relax and watch sports,” his wife explains. Paul Moran’s love of sports goes back to his first career as a college football coach (at the University of Connecticut, University of Kentucky, Rutgers, and at West VirginiaUniversity, working for Bobby Bowden). “When his first wife died, Paul gave up coaching and went into the coal business so he could be with his daughters, who were toddlers at the time,” Moran says. 

Bibbee created two TV areas for Paul, one in the den and another in the great room, the condo’s all-purpose eating/entertaining/living space. She used back-to-back sofas to create two seating areas: one for TV viewing, the other for conversation and gazing at the water. The room is filled with lots of seating, including new short-twist slipper chairs and a contemporary egg ottoman from Hickory Chair. “There is nothing ‘60s Florida about the furniture, and nothing inside the condo competes with the sensational view of SarasotaBay, particularly at night when you see the roofs of Spanish influence,” Bibbee explains.

Ann is thrilled with the results. “When I walk in the door, the colors always make me smile,” she says. “Pat asked me to let her surprise me. When you turn an artist loose, you get their best work.”

Pat Bibbee’s Tips on New Florida Style

Coastal Accents: Collections of shells, coral-shaped lamps, drawer pulls and crustacean-filled wallpaper bring fresh, contemporary Florida references into the design.

Tropical Materials: Bamboo floors, leather-wrapped rattan and white wood furniture add touches of casual but refined island style, subtly underscoring an urban Gulf setting.

Vintage Cottage Colors: Use Old Florida colors in bright, clear, modern tones; choose a sophisticated palette of three colors and repeat them in various ways throughout the home.

Comfort Zones:  Design a room arrangement that fits the client’s lifestyle. Bibbee replaced a master bedroom closet with a much-needed dressing table, created two seating areas in the great room and furnished the den to function as an extra guest bedroom.

Watch the Scale: In large areas, choose three points of interest and make them connect. Don’t decorate up high in homes with high ceilings; if you do the scale will be lost. 

Classics with a Twist: Choose furniture that is classic, but clean and updated. The condo’s coffee table is curved, slipper chairs have new short-twist legs and a leather ottoman is shaped like an egg.

Pat Bibbee Designs

1572 Hampton Road

Charleston, W.VA. 25314

(304) 346-1991

Master Bedroom

Lane Excursions Chair: Fabric Hines (Etamine)

Lane Excursions Ottoman – Hines (Etamine)

Chest: Stanley

Headboard fabric and welting: Hines (Etamine) and Pindler

Twin coverlets: Providence

Window treatments: Motif Designs

Decorative Screens and Headboards: Bacon & Wing

Master Bath

Thibaut wallpaper

Living Room

Acrylic End tables [acrylic]

Window treatments: Libas

Brunella chest: Amy Howard

Console: Creative Metal

Fabric:  Jane Shelton (Holly Hunt)

Egg ottoman: Hickory Chair with Hickory Chair fabric

Dining table, chairs, bar stools: Ficks Reed

Cherry Blossom Triptych: Longstreet Collection, St. Louis, MO


Drapery: Kravet

Pearson sleeper sofa: St. Roman fabric

Pearson Recliner: St. Roman fabric

End tables: Ficks Reed

Coffee table: Elms

Guest Room

Duvets: Brunswig & Fils.

Chairs Wesley Hall; Fabric by Thibaut

Guest Room wallpaper: Thibaut.

Headboards Stanley: Brunswig & Fils fabric

Dressing Chest: Stanley

Twin Coverlets: Malabar Grove

Emissary – Coral lamp

Emissary – stool

Guest Bath 

Wallpaper: Brunswig & Fils

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