Esteemed Landscape Designer Fernando Wong’s Ocean-Adjacent Retreat in Palm Beach
The right home is a reflection of who you are and how you live. No one knows this better than Corcoran, who has built its business on helping individuals find the home that matches their heart. This story is one of three interviews with acclaimed designers and architects whose homes reflect Corcoran’s "Live Who You Are" mission. Follow along for the entire series.
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Fernando Wong and Tim Johnson have a few homes throughout Florida—one in Miami Beach, one in Southhampton, and now the latest in Palm Beach. The couple have offices in each location; Wong is a highly sought after landscape designer and Johnson is his business partner. Each home fills a different purpose, and when the couple set about searching for their Palm Beach pad over a year and a half ago, they had something very specific in mind. The apartment was to be a central hub, a resting place within walking distance of the couple's Palm Beach social lives. "This home is about the convenience of being in town," says Wong.
After a brief search, the couple found what they were after. "We knew as soon as we walked in that the apartment was perfect," says Johnson. It was exactly what they'd envisioned: a private, centrally located apartment with a bit of outdoor space that was within walking distance of Worth Avenue and all of the couple's favorite restaurants. The unit checked every box, and the renovated space has become just what Wong and Johnson wanted in their Palm Beach routine: a convenient and relaxing respite where they can recharge and then get back to their Floridian playground.
Before moving in, the couple completely renovated the space, adding new lighting, painting, molding work, and extensive wallpapering. "As soon as we closed, we got everyone lined up," says Wong. "We wanted to get everything to our liking." The couple's extensive art collection was one of the biggest factors to consider in the remodel. "Lighting was so important," says Johnson, who brought in a trusted, custom lighting technician from New York for the job. For the walls, the couple gravitated towards dark blues, putting their art collection prominently on display. "I wanted the art to pop," says Wong. "The art is being framed by the entire room."
Wong and Johnson usually begin their days with a small breakfast at the Colony Hotel—just a few blocks from their place—then it's off to the office. The couple spends a significant amount of time working, both at the office, and at various job sites around Florida and beyond. "When we go back to the apartment, it is a sanctuary," Johnson says of their clean, calming space.
Occasionally, the couple have cocktail parties at their apartment. But they rarely cook, opting instead to walk down to their favorite spots on Worth Avenue. Most often, it's just the two of them at home where they can unwind and enjoy each other's company. They spend a lot of time on their balcony, relaxing and reading. Johnson will smoke cigars while Wong will work on a mood board for a project. The palms create privacy around the balcony and the couple can simply relax.
The couple filled their home with small treasures amassed over time: seashells, humidors, and a lot of art. "I don't know if it was intentional," Johnson says of their collection. "We just picked things that were pretty and that we liked." Upon reflection, the couple realized that their decor, combined with the blue and green hues of the apartment, reflects their deep love of the ocean. "It was a bit subconscious, but the water really helps us relax," says Johnson, as he considers the dark navy paint in the living room. "We love that dark blue. To me, that's my favorite blue." Wong goes on: "I love the water. I love to be around the water, to see it, to get in it. The blue tones in the bedroom, as well as the objects on the walls reflect that love affair with the water."
For now, the couple feel the apartment is perfect for their needs. "I’m very happy there," says Wong. He and Johnson have been able to craft the space into exactly what they need right now: a pied-à-terre that serves to make Palm Beach even more convenient. "I like to think I have a huge stake of the island, and that I’ve just decided to go to the cottage over there," he says, referring to the apartment. He thinks about his relationship to Palm Beach, and how much it feels like his home. "I’ll just take a walk down the beach and see a yacht as I walk down the pier. In my delusional mind, I own the yacht… so that’s how that happens."
"It’s perfect," says Wong. He’s thinking back on the apartment now. "I think that we will probably be there for a long time."
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