On the bright side: Laura and Harry Slatkin’s Palm Beach House
PALM BEACH PORCH – LAURA AND HARRY SLATKIN’S PALM BEACH HOME
“We call it the Gumdrop House,” Harry Slatkin says of the Palm Beach home surrounded by a wall of candy-shape boxwood topiary, where he and his wife, Laura, spend their spare time away from Manhattan in a quiet, restful nest.
For Slatkin, the CEO and president of the venerable but newly revitalized British sportswear label Belstaff, spare time is a rarity, what with seasonal fashion shows in New York and Milan, the recent launch of a Belstaff flagship store on London’s Bond Street, and plans to open additional shops in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Dubai.
Harry and Laura Slatkin with their daughter, Ali, in the garden, which is enclosed by topiary hedges of Florida boxwood.
“You walk in the front hall and it’s all mirrors,” says Slatkin, who loves that he can see himself from several angles while looking out through the other end of the house to another wall of green. For him, that is the moment of decompression, of taking a deep breath and releasing the stresses that come with his hectic work and social lives. “I’m moving all the time,” he says. “This is our great escape.”
A 19th-century English stool and mirrored paneling in the entry.
After marrying in 1992, the Slatkins left their positions on Wall Street—he at Bear Stearns, she at Lehman Brothers—and founded a business of their own, Slatkin & Co., specializing in luxury home fragrances. “While we had our tough moments,” Laura recalls, “it was a great entrepreneurial roller coaster, and the experience strengthened our relationship.” Limited Brands bought Slatkin & Co. in 2005, and Laura went on to launch a new company called Nest that produces home-fragrance and personal-care products for top-flight brands, including Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, Jonathan Adler, and Christian Dior.
In the living room of Harry and Laura Slatkin’s Palm Beach home, the sofa and chairs are upholstered in fabrics by Rose Tarlow Melrose House, the demilune tables are from Florian Papp Antiques, and the painting over the sofa is by Jose Camacho.
Meanwhile, in 2011, Harry acquired Belstaff in partnership with his friend Tommy Hilfiger. The idea was to dust off the British brand known for its functional waxed-cotton motoring gear and turn it into a luxury, high-fashion label that evokes and updates an aristocratic biker heritage. “It’s exciting and exhausting,” says Harry of the new venture. “I need to come down here and recuperate.”
In the library, the banquette is by Marjorie Shushan, and the photograph on the easel is by Eugène Atget.
Laura has always had a fond spot in her heart for Palm Beach. She grew up wintering there in the 1970s when her father was a society photographer. She loved the seven-layer coconut cake at the Dutch Treat coffee shop and shopping with her mother at the original Lilly Pulitzer on Worth Avenue. “I can still remember all the beautiful trims on the dresses like it was yesterday,” she says.
The living room’s sofa and chairs are covered in fabrics by Rose Tarlow Melrose House, and the painting is by Jose Camacho.
After they married, the couple continued vacationing in Palm Beach, and then about 10 years ago began considering buying a house. Their broker showed them a property adorned with gumdrop-shape trees, and while Laura and Harry both liked it, the house itself would have demanded too much work. “It was a disaster,” recalls Harry. The couple decided to forgo buying at that time.
In Ali’s room, the bedding is by E. Braun & Co.
Two years ago, the Slatkins returned to Palm Beach and were staying at the Breakers hotel. “After three days of pouring rain, we got bored with shopping on Worth Avenue and decided to go look for a house,” Laura recalls. “Our daughter, Ali, sat in the back seat navigating on her iPhone, and we looked at all the homes on the broker’s list. But nothing appealed to us.” Then, as fate would have it, the very last house turned out to be the gumdrop house they’d considered before. They fell in love all over again. “With this sense that it was meant to be, we discovered that the house had been completely renovated and transformed into the perfect home. It might have been tailor-made for us,” says Laura. “We just had to have it.”
In the master bedroom, the bed is by Marjorie Shushan, and the linens are by E. Braun & Co.; the Matisse drawing was purchased at Sotheby’s, and the Turkish rug, at Christie’s.
The Slatkins have gradually been introducing their own furniture into the mix, but the gardens were already well manicured and didn’t need much attention. “It was easy, and we wanted to keep it that way,” says Harry. “It wasn’t about fussing. It was all about relaxing: no luggage, arriving in shorts, only 15 minutes from the airport.”
While their petit Versailles is only 7,500 square feet on one acre of land, the walls of greenery and open-air loggias create the illusion of a much grander estate. “The wonderful thing about our home is the ability to open the doors on either side of the living room and enjoy the outdoor terraces,” says Laura, who adds that the breezes make the house feel like an open-air pavilion.
The table, chairs, and cushions in a loggia are by Rose Tarlow Melrose House, and the curtains are of a Brunschwig & Fils cotton-linen duck cloth.
A canvas-roof loggia on the ocean side has informal woven-wicker furniture with terry-cloth cushions that welcome wet bathing suits. Inside, the main living area has a muted simplicity with dark wood pieces and cream-color walls. In the library, a hidden screen drops down from the ceiling for watching movies together. “What’s great about Palm Beach is that so many of our friends come here on vacation,” says Laura. “We often have 22 for dinner, and it’s great fun.” But while they socialize in the evening, the Slatkins make a point of keeping their days free for family bonding. They walk along the ocean and ride bikes down the back streets. “We have a rule in Palm Beach,” Laura says. “Until 8 P.M., we’re just family.”
A tented, open-air loggia faces the garden; the wicker furniture is by Bielecky Brothers, the 19th-century side tables were found at the Drouot auction house in Paris, and the awning and curtains are of a Cowtan & Tout duck cloth.