Cabuya, Turks & Caicos
Taking its name from the Arawak for fishing line, Cabuya is a property that embraces the elements and celebrates the sea, in a refined and elegant way.
Words by Natasha Were. Photography courtesy of The Source, www.thesource.tc
For a family of seafarers and water sports enthusiasts, Providenciales is paradise found. With tropical seas, glorious beaches and endless water-based activities, the location is hard to beat. But careers and lives in the US meant that, for many years, the family’s visits were limited to a few stolen days here and there.
When business commitments eased allowing more time for sea, sun and fun, the time was right to buy a home on the island. Given the family’s shared passion for bonefishing, and their love of surfing, diving, and boating, a house alone was not enough: they needed a property where they would not feel constrained by the walls around them and where they could practice the sports they loved. And for that, they needed a beach and a dock.
“There are plenty of spectacular homes along Grace Bay and Long Bay Beach, and there are beautiful properties on the canal,” the owner says. “But finding a property that combined the two was very difficult.”
However, tucked away at the far eastern end of the island he found Blue Cay Estate. And on that estate was a property with a private sweep of sand and its own wooden dock. There was no house – but there were plans in place for one.
The developer had the bones for what could be a fantastic home, the owner recalls. The architecture was contemporary, which immediately appealed, and its position – facing directly into the trade winds – with a double height living space and floor-to-ceiling glass across the front, promised sensational light and airflow.
In order to mould it to his vision of a calm, refined retreat, one that was both sensory and spiritual, he and architect Lee Halligan made adjustments. Walls were moved, dimensions changed, and an extra bedroom added, to accommodate up to 14. The sun deck was expanded and, because he wanted his guests to experience the joy of bathing under the stars, he added outdoor showers to the bedrooms.
At its heart is a vast living space that opens onto the deck and pool, flanked on either side by lush lawns and swaying palms, giving way to sand and sea beyond. The unusual wedge shape – wide on the seaward side and narrowing to a point marked by a huge 300-pound wooden entrance door at the other – serves to moderate the effect of the wind. Open all the doors and, counterintuitively, the wind drops to whisper even on the breeziest days.
The generous proportions, complemented by white walls, continuous porcelain tile flooring and discreet lighting set the tone of the elegant, minimalist interior. The stroke of genius, though, is the frameless doors that sit flush with the walls. With no protruding trim and nothing to interrupt sightlines, the interiors capture the smooth, seamless serenity of an art gallery.
That Zen-like atmosphere was central to the owner’s vision. He worked closely with Taylor Drotman, director of interior design firm Domino Creative, to select sophisticated, neutral colour schemes and clean, sophisticated furniture whose gentle curves and deep cushions invite relaxation.
“The concept as a whole was for an airy, open ambience that reflected their love of nature and water,” the interior designer explains. “We took these organic, elemental themes and refined them into something modern and beautiful. Every item had to tie back to that concept: if a piece was beautiful but didn’t feed into that narrative, it was left out.”
Furniture and decorative items were sourced from dozens of vendors – some big brand names, others small designers – and much of the millwork was bespoke. Handpicked walnut slabs form the top of the 8-foot coffee tables, feature walls in ipe wood lend a certain Balinese flair, and in the master suite, a custom-designed mahogany headboard incorporates a double desk, where the owner can work with wraparound ocean views.
Organic materials predominate, from the roots of a teak tree that form the base of a glass topped table to the art installation in the living room made from strings of seed pods that create the sound of rippling water in a breeze. Paintings and photographs all feature sea themes, and even light fixtures hint at natural elements: one, over the dining table, has the look and feel of a sea sponge, but is in fact rattan, and over the master bath a cluster of cast resin globes play on the idea of bubbles and water.
It is the conversation between all the different pieces, Taylor says, that lend depth and interest to the design.
For such an active family, the exterior spaces were as important as the interiors. “I spent a lot of time thinking about how to complement the space with the gardens,” the owner observes. “There’s usually a lot of colour in Caribbean gardens but I wanted to continue that calm, neutral palette outdoors.”
On the dining terrace, around the pool and overlooking the beach, huge sectional sofas, comfortable seating and loungers in muted tones harmonise with the lines and style of the interior, and in the garden, landscape designers Environmental Arts avoided vibrant flowers and instead layered pale greens, dark greens and silvery tones using a variety of palms, all artfully lit at night, to create a lush, textured outdoor space.
“Most people have a dining room and eat every meal there,” the owner says. “But I love the idea of constantly having meals in different places.” One evening they will set up a table on the beach, another they may eat on the lawn, the sun terrace or on the dock. Each night is different, and every day is filled with possibilities, whether it’s an early morning fishing expedition, taking the boat over to Grace Bay and swimming ashore for lunch, or heading out as a family to find a deserted surf break. In Cabuya the owner has created a property that is not only visually spectacular, but that invites sublime experiences to be created. More than a place to live, it is a complete lifestyle.
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