The Seaside Charm of Brise de Mer
Fanning out across a headland to take in over 180 degree views of island-studded seas, Brise de Mer mixes sophisticated design with vibrant décor and colourful ethnic accents in BVI.
Words by Natasha Were. Photography by Christian Horan.
At the remote eastern end of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands is the ultra-exclusive residential enclave of Oil Nut Bay. And at the end of Oil Nut Bay, perched high on a promontory, sits the sensational Brise de Mer. Part of an environmentally sensitive community whose architectural character was largely established by OBMI, the villa enjoys access to the development’s world-class restaurant, spa and wellness centre, Nut House Kid’s Club and Nature Centre as well as 300 acres of pristine beach, land and waters.
Completed in 2015, this luxury property enjoys the sort of views that would render the most verbose speechless – yet its spectacular position is only the beginning. The four-bedroom property also stands out for its innovative architecture and bold, bohemian interior décor.
The owners, a Michigan-based couple with teenagers, had been swept away not only by the world-class sailing, quirky beach bars and virgin scenery to be found around Virgin Gorda, but also the remote nature of Oil Nut Bay – a corner of the Caribbean accessible only by boat or helicopter.
Building in such an off the beaten track location was never going to be straightforward, so the owners chose to work with architect Joseph Mosey and interior design firm Jones-Keena, both of whom were familiar with the challenges that Oil Nut Bay presented.
On their wish list were concepts more than specifics: a design optimised for outdoor living, integrated pools, a home that was modern yet had island charm, filled with natural materials and bespoke finishes.
To give form to the fantasy, the architect used the steep slope to his advantage, creating a series of curving staircases and crescent-shaped infinity pools that descend in tiers towards the shore. Incorporated into these are a cliff-side dining area, several terraces, and a relaxation pavilion that answers to the owner’s desire for a private spot to escape to.
The interior, meanwhile, features four ‘wings’ that fan out around the promontory, capturing a different view from every room. Retractable glass doors and continuous travertine flooring create a seamless transition between indoors and out.
On the exterior, natural stone cladding and thatched roofs ensure the villa blends into its surroundings, but on the interior the opposite is true: bright colours, bold patterns and an eclectic mix of antique and exotic pieces create a No expense was spared to source the finest materials, furniture and accessories to create this interior tapestry. Jones-Keena, later assisted by KLK Designs, sourced rare Andiroba mahogany to build custom closets and ceilings, reclaimed antique doors were shipped from France, cabinetry came from Nicaragua and decorative accents from Morocco.
The result strikes an unusual balance between opulent and playful. The dining room is lit by chandeliers and flanked by stone columns, with seats upholstered in animal print fabrics; bar stools are covered in turquoise faux leather, and vivid violet armchairs stand out against a teal-coloured sea.richness of texture and tone that is both striking and surprising.
A labour of love, it took the owners and a team of expert architects, designers and project managers years to take Brise de Mer from fantasy to reality. Given the sweeping views, cascading terraces and splendid, jewel-toned interior though, Brise de Mer was well worth the wait.
Acutely aware of the loss and damage their fellow islanders have suffered, the family asks that those who wish to help the British Virgin Island community with rebuilding efforts donate to BVI Relief, of which 100% of donations go directly to the community. www.bvirelief.com
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