The Colony Hotel’s Pink Paradise

The iconic Palm Beach hotel called on Mimi McMakin of Kemble Interiors, Inc. and scenic wallpaper firm de Gournay to create some additional magic at the beloved landmark
Central seating area in the lobby of the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, featuring custom scenic wallpaper de Gournay Wallpaper from the lobby’s 2021 renovation by Kemble Interiors. The wallpaper depicts flora and fauna native to the area. A symmetrical seating arrangement flanks a white fireplace mantel made to look like a pagoda. The room’s color palette includes soft pinks and greens.

The Colony Hotel is one of those storied places that is the essence of Palm Beach chic. Opened in 1947, it has an ideal location—steps to the famed shopping of the city and the Atlantic Ocean while the pink exterior seems perfectly suited within the palm trees and beach scenery.

The hotel closed last March due to the coronavirus, and during that time, it went through many renovations, including the lobby, which is now referred to as “The Living Room”—a destination designed for intimate gatherings in a home-like setting. In collaboration with Colony owner Sarah Wetenhall, local interior designer Mimi McMakin of Kemble Interiors Inc. and her associates Cece Bowman and Mackenzie Hodgson, and the scenic wallpaper firm de Gournay, a custom wallpaper design, aptly named the ‘The Colony,’ made its debut.

Noir Furniture's King Chandelier hangs from a tray ceiling by a large window. Two whimsically shaped wicker chairs with pink velvet upholstery sit cattycorner on either side of small potted palm tree in the corner. Design by Kemble Interiors, The Colony Hotel 2021

The team was inspired by the original mid-century mural that adorned the lobby when it was first opened. The new wallcovering is painted on a pink Edo Xuan Paper and includes flora and fauna indigenous to South Florida. Hand-painted characters include flamingos, alligators, panthers, and the Colony’s monkey mascot, ‘Johnny Brown’—all speaking to the wit and whimsy of the legendary hotel.

“One of the most important aspects of designing the new living room and mural with Sarah Wetenhall and the artists of de Gournay was authenticity. Each flower from hibiscus to brugmansia—fondly referred to locally as Angel’s trumpet—was carefully chosen,” says Mimi. “The mural is the story of a day in the life of the Colony Hotel’s so-named ‘Pink Paradise’ and we went to great lengths to personalize each detail. Flocks of wild green parrots actually do fly here, and we have depicted one perched over a nest filled with a child’s playful Easter eggs,” says Mimi. Other details include flying fish soaring over friendly alligators that snooze unaware of the butterflies that flutter over their heads.

Kemble Interiors outfitted another seating area in the Colony Hotel lobby with a high-backed, tufted pink velvet bench, flanked by two upholstered chairs (with sleek, armless brass frames) and a pair of brass side tables shaped to look like a palm trees. Each side table holds a chunky modern white lamp. A bamboo coffee table unifies the space.

For the rest of the interiors, McMakin repeated the colors of the ‘Pink Paradise’ in the soft furnishings. “We wanted the décor to be a part of the story as well and have it waiting for a guest to snuggle into,” says Mimi. “A backgammon table designed with polo mallets as the points adds to the conviviality of this friendly living room—our dream was for anyone entering the room to feel welcomed and enchanted at the same time.” Mission accomplished. The hotel is reopened and ready for guests,

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A chunky modern white lamp sits on a brass side table shaped to look like a palm tree in one of the seating vignettes created by Kemble Interiors for the 2021 renovation of the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach. In the background, an alligator is depicted in the de Gournay scenic wallpaper
A vintage bamboo bar topped with a small vase of peach and pink roses nestles into a corner, where the wallpaper includes a wild cat beneath a parasol, flying flamingoes, and tropical flora
Detail of a pineapple amongst tropical foliage flamingoes in the de Gournay wallpaper at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach
a bamboo bench with a scrolled back sits against a scene with flamingoes in the de Gournay wallpaper at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach
A small dog holding a bucket bearing the number 3 is depicted in a landscape scene

Sources for The Colony Hotel’s 2021 Renovation

By Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Carmel Brantley

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