Bonnet House & Gardens: Fort Lauderdale

Bonnet House really surprised me. It was a random little find (definitely obscure compared to the rest of the sights in Fort Lauderdale). I can’t even remember how I came across it, but I am so glad I did. It was one of the highlights of my trip.

old fashioned boathouse
the boathouse
Yellow gate looking into a central garden with palm leaves

A true artists home from top to bottom; I’ve never seen such a beautiful use of colour. The whole estate was very inviting. The tour guide who took us through was very knowledgeable and passionate. A tour is needed to venture through the grounds.

Standing in front of a bright blue door with a yellow gate, wearing a palm leaf button up dress, a flat top straw hat, a woven handbag and leather sandals

Outfit Details

My palm leaf dress is old from Old Navy. Shoes are Anthropologie. Hat and basket bag are from Zara.

Standing in front of a bright blue door with a yellow gate, wearing a palm leaf button up dress, a flat top straw hat, a woven handbag and leather sandals

Just outside the estate, we waited for our tour to begin by these colourful doors. We had to hide from the hot Florida sun under some palms. Our taxi driver who dropped us off, had lived in Fort Lauderdale his whole life and had no idea the estate existed. Many people in the city don’t – which is a shame because it is meant to be enjoyed.

a dessert palm garden in Fort Lauderdale
dessert palm garden outside of an estate home in Fort Lauderdale
fossilized column

Inside Bonnet House

Bonnet House & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale with a central fountain in the courtyard surrounded by palms

The courtyard in the centre of the home was extremely inviting. A lush oasis from the desert landscape just on the other side of the walls.

bonnet house gardens with a central courtyard and palm trees
Tiger serving bowl against a blue wall

One of the many pieces highlighted on the tour.

painted roof by artist Frederic Clay Bartlett
Central courtyard in the Bonnet House with gardens and artistic bird house
Central courtyard in Bonnet House and Gardens with palm trees and plants in a Floridian home
colourful birdhouse in a courtyard surrounded by tropical plants painted by artist Frederic Clay Bartlett

An Artists Hideaway

artist Frederic Clay Bartlett's studio in his home Bonnet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

This was the studio of Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett. His father-in-law gifted him and his wife this estate in 1919. 2020 is the hundredth anniversary of the home.

Inside Bonnet House & Garden in Fort Lauderdale with wooden vaulted ceiling and chandelier
artists home Frederic Clay Bartlett with all his original paintings
blue hallway with yellow accents and art pieces with wooden ceiling and brick floor with hanging lanterns looking out into a central courtyard
Inside a unique artists home from the 1920s with bright yellow walls
bright blue and yellow ceiling

A Family Home

1950s white fridge in a bright blue kitchen
A beautifully preserved kitchen.
octagonal dining room with wood panelling, chandelier, an blue cabinetry with fine dishes on display.
a rounder dining table encouraged egalitarianism.

Unlike many estate homes, the rooms were all very casual and accessible. There weren’t the usual defined public versus private spaces.

full set of tiles with scenes

These Portuguese tiles are extremely rare, like many of the art pieces in the home. They were saved from a home that was falling into the sea.

full set of artistic tiles surrounding door with hands holding lanterns
wooden parrot an drinking mugs in a wooden dining room
scalloped ceiling detail with painted mural

Many of the designs in the home reflect its proximity to the ocean.

shell art trim with painted wall mural
an artists living room with paintings by Frederic Clay Bartlett and 1920s style
The office.
jackalope on the wall with a book shelf
1920s wooden desk with flowers and dog dish in a quaint office
Artist's home Frederic Clay Bartlett
lion statue from a carousel as art against a blue wall
a few carousel creatures were saved and re-erected here in the halls.
Central water fountain in a courtyard of artists home in Fort Lauderdale at the Bonnet House and Gardens surrounded by palms
antique piano on a painted marble floor with gold and white striped walls
painted marble and stone floor by impressionist artist Frederic Clay Bartlett
gold and white striped wall paper with ornate wooden mirror reflecting chandelier

Designed with Location in Mind

bonnet house and gardens museum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA keeping history alive with palm trees estate

These porches and doorways are designed to bring those fresh sea breezes in through the halls. With the aid of fans, there is no need for central air.

yellow plantation style house with palm trees from the 1920s
colourful bright yellow artists home with house painting by Frederic Clay Bartlett from the 1920s
yellow blue and red front porch with ceiling fans on an estate home in Florida
peering in to a central courtyard of an artists home in Florida
from a porch overlooking Mangrove and pond with palm trees and a road to the ocean

The view out to the ocean.

Bonnet House & Gardens

octagon house in a garden

This octagon was made to house the lady of the houses shell and plant collection. Inside, you can view her exquisite greenhouse.

octagon house holding seashells
Inside a orchid house with yellow colour
huge coral pieces and sea shell decorations on a yellow shelf
circular room housing sea shells

Orchids galore.

inside a yellow coloured greenhouse with orchis and other plants

Visit Bonnet House

Bonnet House & Gardens is a must-see if you’re ever in Fort Lauderdale. It’s worth the track even from Miami. The home is entrusted to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. To read more about the history of the family and the Bonnet House estate, click here. To read more of my Florida blog posts, click here.

I visited the Bonnet House pre-covid back in 2019, so I just wanted to share the photos I had in my collection. There is a lot of detail on the Estate’s website and I didn’t want to take away from their telling of the history. I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful home.

outside a New Orleans style plantation house built in the 1920s Bonnet House & Gardens

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