Remodeling and moving houses six times in eight years might sound like a nightmare to the typical homeowner. But Sara McCann, who runs the McCann Design Group and Hive Home, Gift & Garden shop, both in West Palm Beach, Fla., is far from typical. During the first half of her marriage to Jim, a Corcoran real estate agent, she thrived on designing and flipping a house annually. And when another couple might experience the eight-year-itch during their union, the pair decided at that moment to make a home in a one-story Bermuda-style house in Palm Beach they had built from the ground up.
“I could no longer paint a room pink and convince my daughter that she was living in the same place,” McCann says with a laugh, citing one reason for the change of lifestyle. She also truly enjoyed the process of making something her own and staying put, as first her design firm and then her store launched. Career-wise, “everything mushroomed,” she notes, “and it worked out well as our family grew, too.”
That’s because she designed the home, which features a sense of volume with ceilings that measure 14 feet to the crown and then offer another four feet above that, four sets of French doors that open to the loggia and Florida coquina stone that leads to the exterior hardscape, to jibe with their lifestyle. “We’ve got a kid, we’ve got a dog, we go to the beach,” she says. “We can sit and use any room in the house. We have natural linens with great prints that are forgiving. Nothing is overly fussy or fragile.”
Although McCann designs for each individual—working with clients who may need her services for anywhere from eight weeks for a quick redecoration to as long as three years for a design-build project—she likes to share a similar aesthetic with her clients. If the residence is a vacation home in Palm Beach, for instance, she’ll recommend understated elegance, taking cues from the great 1920’s architecture of the region: nothing too formal or layered, no heavy window treatments with swags and tiebacks, no dark hues that ramp up the heat and absorb light.
Instead, she formulates “bright Florida interiors with tropical colors and a couple of great vintage rattan or bamboo pieces. We have clients with multiple homes, and they want to know where they’re waking up.” So when designing a home, she adds the details—many of which come from her shop, and some that are mid-century modern finds from local antique and resale boutiques, which are almost abundant in a town where folks are constantly renovating—that will help establish a sense of place.
Even with her decision to stay put in her own home, McCann isn’t one to get overly attached to objects of her own. “We’re kind of like the shoemaker’s children. We finish our [decor] last and then swap it out to sell to a client. In fact, any great find will probably go to a client rather than come home. Everything is in flux.”
Everything, that is, except for the vintage Lucite and rattan chairs she keeps at Hive, and which numerous patrons have offered to buy. These she has refused to sell over and over again. “They’re inspiration for my furniture line,” she confesses. The line is a dream of hers, she quickly adds, but it could also be a long-term goal. With McCann, whose good humor, drive and energy seem limitless, that could mean she’ll be in production any day now.
Photos by Alex Markow.