Most people don’t get to buy the first home they ever daydreamed about, but Aerin Lauder, granddaughter of the beauty magnate Estée Lauder, did just that. In 2021, she scooped up the Palm Beach mansion she’d had eyes for since her childhood, having grown up across the street from the property in a home where her parents — now neighbors — still reside.
In the two years since her purchase, the cosmetics scion worked with interior designer Stephen Sills and architect Jeffrey Smith to update the space, which still had some of its original details — down to its paint, marble floors and doorknobs. And in the July/August issue of Architectural Digest, Lauder opens the doors to the freshly redesigned home, whose rooms were installed just days before being photographed.
Designed in the 1930s by architect Howard Major, the home combines the elegant French simplicity of the Louis XVI style — influenced by classical Greek and Roman aesthetics — with sunny coastal charm. The getaway is just one of the properties Lauder owns with her husband, financier Eric Zinterhofer, according to AD; they primarily live in Manhattan with their two sons.
“It’s an intelligent house,” Sills told AD. “A pretty house with a beautiful layout, a romantic history, and lovely gardens, like an enchanting French pavilion.”
Lauder has long served as the style and image director at Estée Lauder, but she also founded her eponymous lifestyle brand, Aerin, in 2012. She told AD that her love for nature inspired the redesign, including the floral motifs found on hand-painted silk fabrics, embroidered cushions and custom furniture.
“My brand is very much inspired by birds, flowers, and shells,” she said.
Despite making some practical updates, including hurricane windows and a new kitchen, Lauder opted to “preserve as much of the house as possible,” explaining: “I am inspired by the past, so embracing the history of the house was important to me. In order to understand the future, you have to understand what came before.”
Reflecting its late 18th-century French style, Sills opted for touches of royal grandeur throughout the home, with damask Louis XV side chairs and a Louis XV desk, as well as marble pedestals. But he also nodded to Lauder’s own lineage, with the soft turquoise of her grandmother’s brand appearing on the walls of a dressing room.
Lauder’s own art collection, which features throughout the home, includes a piece by the great minimalist painter Ellsworth Kelly, and a cream puppy vase by Jeff Koons.
“It’s a very minimalist look with just a few spectacularly beautiful things,” Sills said.
“It’s not one of those huge houses that ramble,” he added. “The proportions are perfect and the finishes have a beautiful patina. We just brought it up to date, but with a Palm Beach spirit.”