Lulu de Kwiatkowski Crafts an Exuberant Bahamian Home

“You never think you’re going to live where you spent your childhood holidays, but there’s a luxury and surprise to it,” says artist Lulu de Kwiatkowski of Lyford Cay, the understatedly old-school private community in the Bahamas where both her current house and her childhood family home are situated. “I don’t remember growing up in New York City, but I remember growing up here.”

Her memory of that time is steeped in nature, exploration, and freedom. “It had an enormous impact on my upbringing, my inspiration, my primal existence. “We were feral—we basically lived in the water and trees,” she notes of life with her five older siblings.

Known for her riotously colorful fabrics and kaleidoscopic paintings of flora and fauna, de Kwiatkowski blends bohemian ease with sophisticated élan in both her work and personal life. And this disarming hybrid distinguishes the atmosphere of the breezy Bahamian home she now shares with her husband, Alfredo Gilardini, and their three towheaded sons (11-year-old twins Francesco and Matteo and nine-year-old Pier Giorgio).

In the entrance hall, a John Risley bench joins a Celerie Kemble for Schumacher wall covering.
<div class="caption"> <a href="https://www.restorationhardware.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:RH" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">RH</a> sofas face off on the veranda. Custom table by de Kwiatkowski; side tables and basket from <a href="https://www.onekingslane.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:One Kings Lane" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">One Kings Lane</a>. </div>
RH sofas face off on the veranda. Custom table by de Kwiatkowski; side tables and basket from One Kings Lane.

That beloved childhood home, a low-slung oceanfront compound purchased in 1976 by her parents, Lynne and Henryk, the dashing but penniless Polish refugee turned World War II fighter pilot who went on to amass a fortune in business and become a revered figure on the horse-racing scene, served as an unwitting siren song, calling her back in 2016 to oversee repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. While there, on a lark, she and Gilardini looked at a house for sale just a short golf-cart ride away. Terrenia, as the home is called, was designed by architect Henry Melich around 1970 and, in spite of its rundown condition, still possessed great style, with a garden originally built by Russell Page and interiors by Alain Demachy. Charmed, de Kwiatkowski and Gilardini bought it almost immediately.

“We moved down here by accident,” reflects de Kwiatkowski, whose goal was to retain the house’s spirit while updating it for a family with three young boys. Along the way, she dispensed with some of the dated hallmarks, including stripping shellacked wood and raising the low-slung profile. “My husband’s head nearly hit the ceilings,” she notes. “We opened everything up, while keeping the shapes and frames.”

<div class="caption"> In the living room, a Julian Opie portrait hangs over the home’s original mantel. Custom sofa by de Kwiatkowski. </div>

In the living room, a Julian Opie portrait hangs over the home’s original mantel. Custom sofa by de Kwiatkowski.

From the front porch, on which de Kwiatkowski painstakingly created a shell collage reminiscent of an Indian botanical, the house slowly unfurls. Indeed, part of its charm lies in the gradual reveal of its meandering volume. “We love the element of surprise—like, where’s the secret chamber?” she says.

Inside, the modern and antique, precious and irreverent mingle at every turn. The jewel of the grass-cloth-swathed foyer is a large Slim Aarons photo of de Kwiatkowski’s mother in sun hat and tennis whites at the Lyford Cay Club’s courts that hangs above a marble-topped Biedermeier chest. Next to it, a basket bulging with well-used rackets seems to be in dialogue with the photograph. On the opposite wall, an anthropomorphic wire bench by John Risley serves as a catchall for towels, backpacks, beach bags, and soccer balls.

See More of Lulu de Kwiatkowski’s Charming Residence

<div class="caption"> A grid of de Kwiatkowski’s art brightens the family room. Screen by de Kwiatkowski; custom sofas wear a <a href="https://www.perennialsfabrics.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Perennials" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Perennials</a> fabric; Aerin for <a href="https://www.visualcomfort.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Visual Comfort" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Visual Comfort</a> chandelier. </div>
A grid of de Kwiatkowski’s art brightens the family room. Screen by de Kwiatkowski; custom sofas wear a Perennials fabric; Aerin for Visual Comfort chandelier.
<div class="caption"> A <a href="https://reddkaihoi.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Miles Redd" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Miles Redd</a> chandelier illuminates the kitchen. Pillows from <a href="https://www.clic.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Clic" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Clic</a>; Antique barstools. </div>
A Miles Redd chandelier illuminates the kitchen. Pillows from Clic; Antique barstools.
<div class="caption"> In the living room, a Julian Opie portrait hangs over the home’s original mantel. Custom sofa by de Kwiatkowski. </div>

In the living room, a Julian Opie portrait hangs over the home’s original mantel. Custom sofa by de Kwiatkowski.

<div class="caption"> The sitting room’s wood paneling and murals are original to the house. </div>

The sitting room’s wood paneling and murals are original to the house.

<div class="caption"> In the mini guest room, the <a href="https://www.olystudio.com/hamish-daybed-silver-wood-muslin-1.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Oly Studio daybed" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Oly Studio daybed</a> is covered with an antique suzani fabric. </div>
In the mini guest room, the Oly Studio daybed is covered with an antique suzani fabric.
<div class="caption"> De Kwiatkowski created the wall mural at the home’s entrance. Floor tile by Alain Demachy. </div>

De Kwiatkowski created the wall mural at the home’s entrance. Floor tile by Alain Demachy.

<div class="caption"> <a href="https://www.restorationhardware.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:RH" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">RH</a> sofas face off on the veranda. Custom table by de Kwiatkowski; side tables and basket from <a href="https://www.onekingslane.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:One Kings Lane" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">One Kings Lane</a>. </div>
RH sofas face off on the veranda. Custom table by de Kwiatkowski; side tables and basket from One Kings Lane.
<div class="caption"> In the master bedroom, the bed wears <a href="https://www.matouk.com/styles/bed/poppy" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Lulu DK for Matouk linens" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Lulu DK for Matouk linens</a>. Antique bench with <a href="https://www.hollandandsherry.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Holland & Sherry" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Holland & Sherry</a> print. </div>
<div class="caption"> The master bath offers a view of the pool. Vintage side table and rug; <a href="https://www.matouk.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Matouk" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Matouk</a> towels. </div>
The master bath offers a view of the pool. Vintage side table and rug; Matouk towels.
<div class="caption"> De Kwiatkowski’s own art hangs in her office. <a href="https://www.visualcomfortlightinglights.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Visual Comfort" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Visual Comfort</a> sconce. </div>
De Kwiatkowski’s own art hangs in her office. Visual Comfort sconce.
<div class="caption"> The boys play soccer on the back lawn. </div>

The boys play soccer on the back lawn.

<div class="caption"> <a href="https://www.cb2.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:CB2" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">CB2</a> chairs flank a game table in the family room. </div>
CB2 chairs flank a game table in the family room.
<div class="caption"> Lulu de Kwiatkowski sits poolside, with her sons, Francesco, Matteo, and Pier Giorgio. </div>

Lulu de Kwiatkowski sits poolside, with her sons, Francesco, Matteo, and Pier Giorgio.

<div class="caption"> In the entrance hall, a John Risley bench joins a Celerie Kemble for <a href="https://www.fschumacher.com/not-found" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Schumacher" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Schumacher</a> wall covering. </div>
In the entrance hall, a John Risley bench joins a Celerie Kemble for Schumacher wall covering.
<div class="caption"> A <a href="https://www.bunnywilliamshome.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bunny Williams Home" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bunny Williams Home</a> table anchors a vignette in the family room. On bench by <a href="https://www.jaysonhome.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jayson Home" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Jayson Home</a>, <a href="https://www.vaughandesigns.com/us/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Vaughan" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Vaughan</a> print. </div>
<div class="caption"> De Kwiatkowski in her home studio. <a href="https://www.restorationhardware.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:RH" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">RH</a> chair. </div>
De Kwiatkowski in her home studio. RH chair.
<div class="caption"> A <a href="https://reddkaihoi.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Miles Redd" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Miles Redd</a> chandelier illuminates the kitchen. Pillows from <a href="https://www.clic.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Clic" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Clic</a>; Antique barstools. </div>
A Miles Redd chandelier illuminates the kitchen. Pillows from Clic; Antique barstools.
<div class="caption"> The back lawn accommodates alfresco entertaining. Custom chaise longues. </div>

The back lawn accommodates alfresco entertaining. Custom chaise longues.

“Hunt and gather,” de Kwiatkowski says of her eclectic and colorful approach to decorating. This is evident in the generously sized living room, which features a ram’s-head-base coffee table scored on eBay in 2000, the pair of giant ceramic frogs found at a Paris flea market that flank the fireplace, and an expansive L-shaped sofa that has been with the family in three houses. Even the round Julian Opie portrait, so perfectly sited above the mantelpiece here, has been a feature of each home the couple has inhabited. In fact, the only piece de Kwiatkowski expressly commissioned for the room is a pair of hand-painted Gracie Waves wallpaper panels on the back wall.

Get the Breezy, Bahamian Look of Lulu de Kwiatkowski’s Home

<div class="caption"> Colorful tabletop accessories atop an <a href="https://amandalindroth.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amanda Lindroth" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amanda Lindroth</a> tablecloth. </div> <cite class="credit">Pernille Loof</cite>
Pernille Loof
<div class="caption"> Algae Concha by Carolina Irving & Daughters; from $12. <a href="https://ci-daughters.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ci-daughters.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>ci-daughters.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Carolina Irving & Daughters</cite>
Courtesy Carolina Irving & Daughters
<div class="caption"> Jasmine linen tablecloth; $120. <a href="https://amandalindroth.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:amandalindroth.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>amandalindroth.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Amanda Lindroth</cite>
Courtesy Amanda Lindroth
<div class="caption"> Cristol Large Tiered Chandelier by Aerin for Visual Comfort; $2,975. <a href="https://www.circalighting.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:circalighting.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>circalighting.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtest Circa Lighting</cite>
Cristol Large Tiered Chandelier by Aerin for Visual Comfort; $2,975. circalighting.com

Courtest Circa Lighting

<div class="caption"> Blue-and-white ceramic garden table; $140. <a href="https://www.williams-sonoma.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:williams-sonoma.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>williams-sonoma.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Williams Sonoma</cite>
Courtesy Williams Sonoma
<div class="caption"> Charlotte sham by Lulu DK for Matouk; $115. <a href="https://www.matouk.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:matouk.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>matouk.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Matouk</cite>
Charlotte sham by Lulu DK for Matouk; $115. matouk.com

Courtesy Matouk

<div class="caption"> Kazak fabric; to the trade. <a href="http://quadrillefabrics.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:quadrillefabrics.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>quadrillefabrics.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Quadrille</cite>
Courtesy Quadrille
<div class="caption"> Monsieur and Mademoiselle patio bench sculpture by John Risley; $5,400. <a href="https://www.1stdibs.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:1stdibs.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>1stdibs.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy 1stdibs</cite>
Monsieur and Mademoiselle patio bench sculpture by John Risley; $5,400. 1stdibs.com

Courtesy 1stdibs

<div class="caption"> Striped Murano glass by LagunaB; $410 for a set of four. <a href="https://www.modaoperandi.com/laguna/home" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:modaoperandi.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>modaoperandi.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Moda Operandi</cite>
Courtesy Moda Operandi
<div class="caption"> A photo by Slim Aarons hangs above a Biedermeier chest. On wall, A Celerie Kemble for <a href="https://www.fschumacher.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Schumacher" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Schumacher</a> grass cloth. </div> <cite class="credit">Pernille Loof</cite>
A photo by Slim Aarons hangs above a Biedermeier chest. On wall, A Celerie Kemble for Schumacher grass cloth.

Pernille Loof

<div class="caption"> Seto embroidered linen; to the trade. <a href="https://www.vaughandesigns.com/us/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:vaughandesigns.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>vaughandesigns.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Vaughan</cite>
Courtesy Vaughan
<div class="caption"> In the family room, A Jayson Home bench wears a Vaughan print. Bunny Williams Home table. </div> <cite class="credit">Pernille Loof</cite>

In the family room, A Jayson Home bench wears a Vaughan print. Bunny Williams Home table.

Pernille Loof

<div class="caption"> Cabana 18 surfboard by Lulu DK Nusa Indah Surfboards; $1,325. <a href="https://nusaindahsurfboards.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:nusaindahsurfboards.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>nusaindahsurfboards.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Nusa Indah Surfboards</cite>
Courtesy Nusa Indah Surfboards
<div class="caption"> Regista armchair by Monica Armani for Tribù; $2,907. <a href="https://www.janusetcie.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:janusetcie.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>janusetcie.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Janus et Cie</cite>
Courtesy Janus et Cie
<div class="caption"> Lulu DK art print by Lulu de Kwiatkowski; from $248. <a href="https://luludk.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:luludk.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>luludk.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Lulu DK</cite>
Lulu DK art print by Lulu de Kwiatkowski; from $248. luludk.com

Courtesy Lulu DK

<div class="caption"> Candleholder by Mercedes Salazar for The Luxury Collection; $176. <a href="https://www.luxurycollectionstore.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:theluxurycollectionstore.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>theluxurycollectionstore.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy The Luxury Collection</cite>
Courtesy The Luxury Collection
<div class="caption"> Beachcomber espadrille by Lulu DK for Sea Star Beachwear; $96. <a href="https://www.seastarbeachwear.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:seastarbeachwear.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>seastarbeachwear.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Sea Star Beachwear</cite>
Courtesy Sea Star Beachwear
<div class="caption"> Sauvage linen; $207 per yard. <a href="http://www.zakandfox.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:zakandfox.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>zakandfox.com</em></a> </div> <cite class="credit">Courtesy Zak + Fox</cite>
Courtesy Zak + Fox

An expansive, multipurpose white room with picture windows overlooking the veranda is the heart of Terrenia. It houses a book-lined, library-like corner with a big table and director’s chairs, a much-played piano, a backgammon and Ping-Pong table, and a sitting area. In the sitting area, crisp white upholstery contrasts cleanly with her sinuously shaped and vividly hued artwork hung in a grid, while the abstract foliage on a hand-painted screen mirrors the verdant palm fronds outside the picture window.

Reflecting on the color scheme, de Kwiatkowski notes: “It’s all about the greens and blues, recalling the nature and sea outside.” The room that probably best encapsulates de Kwiatkowski’s point of view is her studio. Pieces evoking a botanical garden of whimsical flora painted with her distinctively easy hand create an exuberant collage that unfolds across its walls.

When the boys come home from school, the house opens up and the barriers between indoors and out seemingly disappear. They head to the yard to play soccer and climb trees, eventually ending up in the pool. In a small vegetable garden, Gilardini proudly minds the tomatoes and basil he brought from Italy, while Cookie, their Jack Russell terrier, trails closely behind.

Before sunset, de Kwiatkowski ferries visitors in a golf cart for a tour of the chic Tom Scheerer–decorated clubhouse and one of the Club’s deceptively strong signature Rum Dum cocktails. It all feels so effortless, and de Kwiatkowski sums it up perfectly: “Being down here, where the heartbeat is the sun and there’s simplicity for the kids, is a really beautiful thing.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest