Like many of the most beautiful places in the world, the Bahamas can be a challenging place to get a decorating job done. This project – one of the most beautiful homes on one of the most beautiful sites in one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, the Lyford Cay Club – is an example of this. During more than two years of construction, we encountered obstacles related to navigation, weather, communications and travel logistics. But let’s focus on the opportunities. Once all the work has been done, and all customs duties have been paid, and all the LED bulbs have been fixed with acetate gels, and all the glossy paint that is going dull due to the reapplied, what we ended up with is a dream villa, and a dream is worth any work. Everyone on the design team fell in love with the place, as did the owners, who dubbed their new home Hideout.
Design projects are all about aiming. If any decision mattered here, it was the first: save the existing building, strategically adding to it rather than demolishing it. This elegant but compact villa had a position in the heart of the community. Its former owners were well-liked and many neighbors shared fond memories of dining there. But it was a one-story house made for a couple, not a family with four children. Architect Kiko Sanchez and I huddled together and agreed that, despite the reality of the expanded program, the last thing we wanted for these clients was a mansion. “The house looked like a cottage, so the challenge was to make it big enough to accommodate a family while still feeling like a cottage,” explains the architect.
Kiko is a great design partner. He and I added a second story, but made it barely visible. We have expanded the living room to more than twice its original size, but not as one large undifferentiated room. The new space, with its varying ceiling heights and cheeky columns, looks more like a covered porch that had been closed off at one point. In short, we invented a narrative for the new house in which things had been added over time. Without increasing the scale of the entrance facade, we also decided to add some formal details. “The front door now has the kind of masonry you would find on a genteel Georgian house in the West Indies. But the back is more relaxed. Ultimately, we wanted to create a fun house for children,” says Kiko about our common mission.
That was the plan outside. The biggest decision inside came to me when I looked around and saw all these stylish people enjoying their lives in their beautiful homes – Lyford Cay is a community that truly loves hospitality and styling. But while there’s plenty of luxury, it all feels very adult. I wanted to make it the first chic house here that seems to be owned by young people. Aim, remember? The most direct line of attack seemed to be to redo the ubiquitous tiled floors – the thing that is seen everywhere in a tropical home – in a playful and unexpected material. So I offered electric blue terrazzo, really selling it and saying, “What can I tell you, I love an Italian bus station.” (Sometimes you have to make things worse to look better.) I know the architect was skeptical, and maybe the owners were too, but this is my fourth home for them, and they expect a risk or two.