Casa del Cielo, Cayman Islands
A family home in Vista del Mar takes a different approach to the indoor-outdoor living concept, by opening the roof to the sky.
Words by Natasha Were. Photography by Heather Holt.
When Chris and Kristy Capewell began to discuss designs for the house they would build together, light and openness were key concepts – but a glass roof was not initially on their list of ‘must haves.’ It was one of Chris’s more outlandish suggestions, which along with an indoor koi carp pond and the glass-fronted wine storage, found their way into the final design.
With three young children, many of the Capewell’s priorities were practical - a central open plan kitchen and dining area, the family’s bedrooms all on the same floor, a play room that was easy to supervise and outside space where the kids could kick a ball around - but Kristy’s art and design background, Chris’s creative ideas, and the guidance of architect Tim Peck and later Mikki Chin of OBMI, enabled them to incorporate some striking design features into this functionality.
“The original concept was based upon a reinterpretation of the traditional Mediterranean villa, centred around a courtyard as the active hub of the house,” Tim explained. “In this case the courtyard became enclosed and conditioned, with all social spaces and the upper circulation gallery leading off this ‘courtyard’.”
A double-height dining room thus occupies the courtyard, with the kitchen, sunken living room and playroom leading off it, and the master suite and children’s bedrooms are accessed from the first floor gallery.
Although the courtyard was originally designed with a flat roof, set above narrow windows that would allow light to filter through, Chris’s radical idea of replacing the solid roof with a glass atrium transformed the design into something spectacular.
“Tim was amazing to work with because of the way he absorbed and realised ideas like this so effortlessly,” Kristy says.
Now, not only do they have the light and airy quality they wanted but they can sit indoors and see aeroplanes, storm clouds, and frigate birds passing overhead by day, and revel in the sight of the moon and stars at night.
Occupying this central space is a stunning dining table, topped by a single slice of sustainably sourced chamcha wood, with a cluster of spherical pendant lights, made from wispy strands of fibreglass, suspended above it. “We always eat at the table in this house because it is where everyone wants to be,” the owners note.
Due to the covenants governing Vista del Mar, the exterior is Mediterranean in style and is finished in earthy, terracotta tones, whilst the interior aesthetic is fresh and bright. The high gloss white kitchen cabinetry, installed by Pooley Cabinets, the sleek appliances by Bon Vivant and the pale wood-look floor tiles from ITC create a crisp, clean background that offsets the lush greenery visible through the large windows.
A few steps down from the dining room, a snug living room with a family-size corner sofa opens onto an outdoor dining patio with pull down fly screens, ideal for entertaining. For family nights in, a home cinema, complete with seats salvaged from Camana Bay cinema, make movie nights a special occasion.
Kristy’s own artwork, much of which follows an ornithological theme, with colours cleverly matching the tones of the furniture, adds personality and colour, whilst the bold use of hardwood softens the clean, contemporary lines.
“I love the warmth and texture that the natural materials bring,” Kristy says. “The touches of wood sit so beautifully beside the modern glass features.”
Oversize rustic wooden barn doors slide across to close off the playroom from the dining room when not in use and in the master bedroom, the same doors complement the solid hardwood bed, sourced on island from Absolutely Fabulous.
The ingeniously designed open staircase, with custom made cantilevered timber treads, that winds all the way up to a third floor office and roof terrace, only found its full expression as the build progressed. Wrapping around a stairwell lit by the same hanging lights as the dining room, it was only when the concrete was being poured that it occurred to the owners to put a pond and fountain at the base. Although an afterthought, the soothing sounds of trickling water, they say, greatly enhance the sense of calm inside, whilst a security system installed by The Security Centre affords them peace of mind.
For Chris, an avid fisherman, having a dock for his boat was essential, and with young children, a safe neighbourhood where they could play outdoors was key. The lot at Vista del Mar ticked both boxes and was large enough to put in a pool, lawn and a section of Astroturf for the kids to play on. Moreover, because the land had not been cleared, they were able – with the help of Vigoro Nursery – to preserve many of the established trees at the front of the house, providing a habitat for the birds they love.
Encouraged by both OBMI and Phoenix, Chris and Kristy were very involved throughout the design and construction process. With changing skies always visible overhead, the relaxing trickle of an indoor fountain and verdant, green surroundings, the Capewells have created a family haven perfectly tailored to their personalities. Better still, Kristy says, the house has given her the space, light and inspiration to pursue her painting more seriously and she is slowly reclaiming the butler’s pantry off the kitchen as her art studio.
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