Pamela Harvey Brings Her “Modern Traditionalist” Interiors to the Tampa Bay Area
The challenge for interior design doyenne Pamela Harvey: shifting the stark, streamlined décor vibe of Felicia and David Sable’s Tampa Bayshore condominium to one that creates instant warmth and comfort the second you step into the foyer.
“I wanted to walk into my home and have it feel beautiful—on immediate entry and throughout,” says Felicia, a lawyer and education administrator by trade. In addition to her mandate of “pretty, uplifting and joyful,” Felicia added one more key item to Harvey’s to-do list. “I wanted to incorporate rose and lavender, as they’ve always been my, and my daughters’, favorite colors.”
Rose and lavender? For the primary residence of a Tufts University-trained dermatologist who spends his days in the skin cancer trenches? (David Sable is a specialist in Mohs micrographic surgery, a frontline defense against basal and squamous cell carcinoma.) Harvey, um, rose to the occasion and sourced a rose quartz table that now has a place in the busy, travel- and art-obsessed couple’s home. (See more images below)
“Our desire to entertain was part of the redesign plan,” Felicia adds. “And I have to say we’re doing so much more now that we have this gorgeously redone pad to show off.”
Harvey splits her time between homes in Oakton, Virginia, and St. Petersburg, and has design studios and thriving businesses in both cities. Roughly six years ago, after Harvey’s husband began traveling to Tampa on a regular basis for work, she tagged along and became enamored with the area.
“I discovered the two ‘Pink Ladies’—the Vinoy and Don Cesar [hotels]—and we started staying in St. Pete more,” Harvey recalls. “We fell in love in love with the uniqueness of downtown St. Petersburg—the small-town vibe, the local restaurants, the museums and the easy access to Tampa. I don’t think of the two cities so much as separate but as one larger metropolitan area. Like [the] D.C. metro, we’re lucky to live in an area that offers so much.”
Having purchased a waterfront property on Brightwaters Boulevard two years ago, Harvey estimates that she and her team of five have completed at least a dozen projects up and down Florida’s west coast.
“It was pretty gradual,” Harvey says of her growing Sunshine State roster of clients. “All I did was change on my Instagram and website that I have offices in both places. My first two clients came right out of Tampa and Hyde Park. The daughters of the owners of the projects found me. I think younger people are on Instagram and Pinterest, obviously, more so than their parents, so that makes sense.”
Among Harvey’s favorite projects is the Bayshore condo renovation for the Sables and a Hyde Park redesign that included a Green Bay Packers “man cave.”
“Working in Florida is so much fun,” Harvey notes. “The diversity in home styles varies more here than anywhere else I’ve worked. And I’ve been fortunate to work with great clients like the Sables. Felicia and I first bonded over finding the perfect shade of blush pink velvet for the sofas. We ended up needing 40 yards of fabric.”
Ask Harvey to describe her style and seemingly contradictory adjectives spill forth. “I always say I’m a ‘modern traditionalist,’ ” she says. “I think a lot of traditional furniture has some classic elements that really can carry over into any kind of style or décor. It’s just cleaning up those fussy parts of ‘traditional’ that may or may not work in a room. But I still like to bring in those traditional elements. For instance, a Louis XVI chair works really well with a modern desk. It’s a lot about mixing. Mixing modern art with traditional pieces. Or just doing something traditional in a really modern fabric.”
While earlier in her career, Harvey worked on smaller projects—one or two rooms in a house, say, or window treatments for a client—now, she designs the look of entire homes. “The majority of my clients now hire me to do their whole condo or whole house,” she says. “And the end result is always better. The client is usually much happier.”
Harvey has found her Tampa Bay area clients vary in how much formality they want injected into their personal spaces. “Some people live a lot more formally,” she notes. “But most people who hire me live a more casual lifestyle.”
One request does keep popping up: “Blue and white—I could do that in Florida all day, every day,” Harvey says. “And I don’t do that in the D.C. market very often. But blue and white always works here. It’s fresh. Recently, I mentioned to someone that I’d like to do a black and white condo at the Ritz in Lido Key, and they were like, ‘Black and white – that’s such a commitment!’ I guess any client, no matter what they’re doing with their place, feels a little safer when they choose blue and white.”
The design brief for the Sable condo featured no blue. It also leaned a lot more toward Felicia’s current taste than David’s. “I would say David had a lot more input in how the house was set up before,” Harvey notes. “It was very slick, very modern, with leather and chrome—very minimal. And Felicia wanted something a little happier, a little cozier, not so cold and stark. So, we went from there.”
Immediately, Harvey and Felicia started plotting and scheming those rosy sofas. “And it really boiled down to, ‘If we find the right shade of pink, it will fly with the husband,’ ” Harvey says, chuckling mischievously. “And Felicia loved that classic Chesterfield style that I feel can go modern or traditional.”
Fast-forward to custom-built seating in what Harvey describes as a “neutral blush” velvet. “When you walk into their home now, you really get the sense of color,” she says. “Because we also did the master bedroom in lavender.” ♦