For Joanne de Guardiola, a South End house on Lagomar Road — designed by noted society architect Addison Mizner in 1924 — presented an opportunity to own a piece of architectural history.
It also demanded a creative and extensive renovation that ended up winning the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s 2012 Ballinger Award, which is given annually to honor historically sensitive construction projects at large estates.
De Guardiola, a self-described “serial renovator,” was intricately involved in what turned out to be an intricate project at the house, which she shares with her husband.
“Roberto and I bought it more than 10 years ago as a third vacation house. We’ve always loved Palm Beach and Mizner, and we renovated it with our children and our parents in mind. But now, it’s just the two of us, and we want to do a bit of downsizing,” she says.
As such, their five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home — with two half-baths and 9,714 square feet of living space, inside and out – has been offered for sale through broker Christian J. Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate for $16.95 million.
The house will be sold with a deeded oceanfront parcel, which isn’t contiguous with the main property. In all, the land measures nearly an acre.
“It’s a wonderful home for a young family,” Joanne de Guardiola says. “It has a 60-foot pool — we could sit in the cabana and watch our children play — and it’s on almost an acre, so our son could play football and soccer. It’s a great location. We have the most gorgeous stretch of beach and fabulous views.”
About a mile south of the Southern Boulevard traffic circle, the property is one house west of the Lake Worth Lagoon on a quiet cul-de-sac. The three-story home’s interiors and exteriors blend seamlessly together, a testament to the thoughtful collaboration between de Guardiola, architects Raphael Saladrigas and Leah Cohen, and the landscape team — landscape architect Mario Nievera and designer Keith Williams of Nievera Williams Design.
De Guardiola, an interior decorator, worked at the Parish-Hadley studio before opening her own firm in New York City. She recently completed refurbishing her family’s yacht, Highlander, the iconic 150-foot yacht previously owned by Malcolm Forbes.
The renovation project, she said, is a testament to how an architect can pinpoint problems and create solutions. But how it came together is somewhat challenging to explain.
“When we bought it,” she explains, “the inside was OK, but outside, the way the land had been chopped up was dreadful.”
She’s referring to the home’s history. Here’s the background: Mizner’s Mediterranean-style house, originally constructed for John Magee, presided over a 6-acre, ocean-to-lake lot. Magee sold it to Edith Rea, who commissioned several additions, and two years after her death in 1951, the property was subdivided into several homes.
The de Guardiolas’ home, one of the cut-up buildings, ended up occupying a sort-of a zigzag-shaped parcel. The home’s focal-point living room was tucked into a corner just a few feet from the property line, a problem that the de Guardiolas remedied by purchasing the adjoining lot.
That way, they could work in arcades, a courtyard, loggias and terraces around the home to achieve cohesiveness as well as a beautiful sense of entry.
“Raphael made the house its own entity with terraces and a covered loggia,” she notes. “It looks like it was always meant to be.”
To give a general idea of the floor plan: The foyer, gallery, media room, kitchen and dining room with an adjoining terrace courtyard are on the first floor. One approaches the home either through the gardens by the pool, or from the cul-de-sac on the home’s west side, where stairs lead to an arcade between the cabana and courtyard that culminates at the front door.
Inside, an elliptical stairway ascends to the second-floor living room, library and guest bedroom suite, with doors in the living room opening to a partially covered balcony.
Continuing up the stairway to the third floor brings one to two guest bedroom suites, and then, up a few more steps, to the master suite.
Mizneresque features include French doors, Cuban-tile floors, hand-painted tiles, beamed and coffered ceilings and graceful columned archway. But the pièce de résistance is Mizner’s original – and stunning — Roaring ’20s dining room, which was repurposed at the time of the subdivision to serve as the living room.
“Its proportions are perfection,”de Guardiola says, “as well as its original folded-linen paneling, which we took down and restored; the Cuban tile floor; the oversized Mizner fireplace; its 14-foot ceilings, and its views over Lake Worth are wonderful. It’s a beautiful room.”
The home’s captures attractive views from most rooms, but from the third-floor master bedroom, the vistas are spectacular. “You can see all the way down the coast.”
As a point of inspiration, she refers to Mizner’s charming vias off of Worth Avenue. Her house, she says, captures a similar feeling, with its brick walkways, covered areas, courtyard and terraces.
“I love Mizner’s structures, the way he beautifully blended interiors and exteriors. We used his original designs as our guiding light,” she says. “He got his architecture right, and his rooms are well proportioned with graciousness and warmth.”