Sea Change: An Ocean-Inspired Classic by Leta Foster


“My design philosophy involves three things,” explains Palm Beach–based interior designer Leta Foster. “Where the house is, how the house fits on the property, and what the people love.” The latter, she notes, is most important. Practicing design for more than 35 years, Foster proudly boasts that she has no signature style. “I truly believe in each house I’ve done, and I don’t want any two to look alike,” she says. “I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh, wow, this is a Leta Foster.’” That dedication to delivering on her clients’ needs has been receiving massive recognition of late: Last month, Foster received the Addison Mizner Award for Interior Design from the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art; this winter, she was chosen as inaugural speaker for the Polly Jessup Design Series presented by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach; and earlier this year, she received an Honorary Doctorate from the New York School of Interior Design. “Dr. Leta,” as her employees endearingly refer to her, aims to create homes that stand the test of time.In this Palm Beach County estate, Foster achieved that timelessness by focusing on one invariable: the ocean view. “We wanted to keep it looking cool and airy,” she explains, “so we used a lot of dotted swiss, linen, and sisal rugs.” From there, the designer infused the space with the homeowner’s (who, Foster notes, is always giving back to the Palm Beach community) personality. “She loves flowers and is a wonderful gardner,” Foster says, which inspired the trellis theme and floral motifs throughout—like in the guest bedroom, where handmade morning glories climb the canopy bedposts.Finally, Foster worked with the client to incorporate existing pieces into the new design—like a picture hanging above the fireplace of the homeowner’s grandmother—and to source “new,” one-of-a-kind items. Together, Foster and her client scoured antique shops on the Dixie Highway, uncovering items like tole-painted lamps. “When I go shopping, that’s one way of making it more of the homeowner’s space,” she notes. “I love working with a client, especially one like this one, who is always looking out for people.”