Palm Beach means polo — even if the current worldwide health crisis put a stop to the sport of princes this season in Wellington.
It was a sign of these difficult times when we learned last month that the International Polo Club Palm Beach had cancelled the rest of its season in cooperation with the U.S. Polo Association. It was understandable: The health and safety of the players, their families, the team organizations, the event organizers and the spectators must come first.
When I heard the news, I thought about how polo is part of many Palm Beachers’ DNA. I’ve learned a lot about the sport and its deep roots in Palm Beach County from my friend Jeanne Chisholm, an iconic figure on the Wellington equestrian scene.
Her Chisholm Gallery at 13532 Fountain View Blvd. in Wellington is a great source for polo and equestrian art, among its varied collections. Luckily for us in these stay-at-home days, her website — ChisholmGallery.com — is open for business so that we may peruse the work of artists who capture the thrill of the action on the field.
I’ve been in many homes where owners celebrate the sport with polo-themed art, from paintings to etchings to sculptures. Such art, I think, looks best in rooms decorated with colors and textures that go with the sporting look. If you’re interested in planning a polo-sporting room in your home — perhaps in the family room or library — here is a look that’s always in style.
For walls, go for paneling. I would prefer a light pecan wood or a light shiny-finished pine with lots of grain showing. The room should have a fireplace, preferably one fitted for gas — there’s no dusting up the room with a wood fire. And where are we to get logs in Palm Beach, anyway?
Make sure you install pin-point lights in the ceiling if you have lots of horsey art to display. Or you prefer a more traditional ambiance, choose brass or chrome picture lights.
For carpeting, choose a sisal, either in its natural color or a deep hue like navy blue, tropical green or rich merlot.
The room should have a comfortable sofa, perhaps covered in a houndstooth fabric with a cream background and the pattern in navy, garnet or palm-tree green. Club chairs that swivel can be covered in a solid linen that matches the color in the houndstooth pattern.
For lamps, turn a pair of leather riding boots into lamps. It’s easy to do, for I have done it on more than one occasion. Shades can be a natural raffia.
Place the lamps on brass-and-glass end tables. For a coffee table, I’d select an old Hermes trunk, a perfect place to display the current issue of Sporting Life.
Then hang the walls with sporting art, and be sure to choose something special for the place of honor above the fireplace. Jeanne Chisholm can be a great help in helping you choose what is what.
When everything opens back up, here’s a must-see the next time you’re out west: Tour the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame at 9011 Lake Worth Road on the corner of Lyons Road.
And as for watching polo? You can bet I’m looking forward to it, once the ponies ride again in Wellington, whenever that may be.
Palm Beacher Carleton Varney is president of Dorothy Draper & Co., an international design firm with offices in New York, West Palm Beach, London and White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Visit CarletonVarney.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.