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A Stand-Up Home
By Shayne Benowitz | Photo: Portrait by Brett Hufziger | Interiors by Marc Janecki Design| Photos (Non-Portrait) by Brantley Photography | January 31, 2017
For the widow of legendary comedian Alan King, Marc Janecki designs a condominium with casual sophistication.
In the late comedian Alan King’s most famous bit from the 1970s, he descends from the stage to cavort among diners at a Las Vegas club, unfolding the obituary section of a newspaper from his coat pocket and egging on audience members to read the line that each listing has in common: “Survived by his wife.”
The premise of the bit—that women live longer than men—becomes increasingly absurd. With each repetition of the mounting evidence, King grows more flummoxed. “What does this one say? Survived by his wife!” The bit escalates with the obituary of “West Point’s oldest graduate” who dies at 104, “four times awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre, 104—survived by his wife!”
The bit concludes with the preposterous obituary of a woman who throws herself out of a window upon learning that her husband’s having an affair, only to land on top of him, softening her fall and killing him instead. Thus, “He is survived,” King exclaims, “by his wife!”
A giant of Hollywood’s Golden Age with a swaggering persona and Brooklyn-inflected baritone, King was a comic who often worked family life into his routine. He was a protege of Milton Berle, made frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and was a regular guest host of Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show. He was also, as the punchline goes, survived by his wife, his childhood sweetheart, Jeanette King. He died in 2004 at age 76.
Jeanette enlisted interior designer Marc Janecki to work on her three-bedroom, 4 ½-bath condominium. Based in Palm Beach, Janecki, who has a portfolio that includes signature projects in Washington, D.C., and Palmetto Bluff, S.C., as well as in South Florida, describes his client as “fun, generous, sincere, honest—the kind of person you instantly want to be friends with; funny, upbeat, gregarious. If all clients were like her, it would be a dream.”
Shortly after her husband’s death, Jeanette sold their 2.39-acre Long Island Tudor estate in Kings Point, Long Island, which had its own show business pedigree, having been built by lyricist Oscar Hammerstein. Today, she divides her time between an apartment in Manhattan, friends’ homes in Los Angeles and the 3,641-square-foot Aventura residence.
“She almost gave me carte blanche,” says Janecki of his easygoing client. “She wanted a warm, comfortable home with casual sophistication. We infused it with personality, variety and character that reflects the interesting life she’s led.”
The home is aglow with oak wood stained floors, creamy textured upholstery, ostrich and antique leather furniture, and embroidered curtains in a palette that Janecki describes as “honey, gold and sunset brown.” The central open floor plan encompasses a dining room, built-in library, and sitting area overlooking floor-to-ceiling windows in a transitional design motif with a playful and intuitive balance of shapes.
The circular Luca dining room table is a slick stone plane with an open cube-metal base surrounded by smooth, dark-chocolate leather chairs with decorative wooden French legs from the Marjorie Shushan Collection. Above, a Paul Ferrante chandelier with shaded candlestick lights hangs from a square-shaped trace ceiling, while a custom circular iron-framed mirror designed by Janecki completes the vignette, bookended by wall sconces and a pair of candlesticks atop a Naga Antiques console. “The chandelier is like the top point of a triangle. It reflects the traditional chairs and contrasts with the modern table,” Janecki says. “The design enhances the architecture by not repeating it.”
The sitting area, with its ecru painted walls and wool matting carpet, is an inviting mix of upholstered chairs and sofas by JJ Custom. Wooden accents appear in graphic framed chairs by Therien, a Janecki custom rectangular coffee table, a framed full-length mirror and a wicker basket of pussy willows, all in warm honey tones. A few choice items from Jeanette’s Long Island home are scattered throughout, including antique stools with tasseled cushions and Chinese wheel sculptures. Janecki says that she wasn’t attached to these vestiges, but she was happy to relocate them south if he thought they would suit the new home.
One item Jeanette was intent on keeping, though, was her dark mahogany bed, a rope-twisted four-poster in a custom size: larger than a full yet smaller than a queen. Janecki refinished it with an ivory glaze and added a canopy and full crown in two creamy fabrics by Bennison—one solid and the other striped. Janecki reupholstered the bedroom’s chaise lounge (also from the client’s home), with modern lines corresponding to the bed. A vanity nightstand and mirror in dark wood and metal deliver contrast to the otherwise ivory room and echo the furnishings of the living and dining areas. The master bedroom is unfussy; it’s comfy, homey and fresh. Enlivened by damask curtain fabric sourced from Cowtan & Tout, the effect is a showstopping chamber fit for modern royalty.
Much like Jeanette’s life and the entertaining she and Alan enjoyed, Janecki likens her eclectic Florida home to “a great cocktail party with a mix of different people from all over the world.”
Marc Janecki Design
Master bed fabrics
BK Antiques (formerly Sentimento Antiques)
Living room art deco library table
Cowtan & Tout
Master bedroom curtain fabric
Living room upholstered sofas, lounge chairs, ottoman
Ostrich leather side tables
Marc Janecki Design
Elevator entry screen, living room coffee table, round mirror, bedroom TV cabinet
Marjorie Shushan Collection
Dining room leather chairs
Dining room console
Palm Beach Framemakers
Master bedroom mirrors
Entry hall console, living room floor lamps, dining room chandelier, master bedroom night table
Master bedroom stool and floor lamp
Living room wood frame lounge chairs