Isle Breeze, Grand Cayman
Driven by a desire to capture the breeze, create relaxing exterior spaces and enjoy panoramic views, the design of this family home in Grand Harbour is both bold and brilliant.
Words by Natasha Were. Photography by Heather Holt Photography.
T h e generous proportions and ingenious configuration of this waterfront property ensure that all four bedrooms, as well as the office, kitchen, living and dining rooms look out onto tranquil canal views, whilst also providing a private inner courtyard that is the social and entertainment hub of the home.
Designed in a C-shape, the entryway, office, media room and garage are located along the road-facing side. The kitchen, dining and living room face in towards the courtyard, thereby creating a privacy barrier from the neighbours. The bedrooms are arranged along the canal side on the second storey, to form a bridge over the pool that is supported by the living room on one side and the guest suite on the other. This was a concept the owners, Julie and Lee, had sketched out with Julie’s sister, architect Cindy O’Hara, to take advantage of the cooling trade winds and water views.
The courtyard takes outdoor living to an entirely new level with: a perimeter overflow pool with a tanning ledge that stretches out towards the canal, a gazebo that shades an outdoor kitchen, bar and waterproof flat screen TV, and lounge areas that surround a fire pit and a fountain that spills into the pool.
North easterly breezes flow through the courtyard, with the bridge creating a Venturi effect that further increases airflow, whilst the second storey shields it from the direct sun in the afternoons, giving the owners a private, cool, shady outdoor space.
Although Julie and Lee had a basic concept in mind and knew that they wanted the clean lines of a contemporary home, it was Design Cayman Ltd., and architect Alan Brown in particular, who refined their ideas. His designs incorporated: a central axis with a continuous line of sight from the front entry across the pool to the canal, different elevations and varying roof lines to add visual interest and a separation of spaces, allowing the soaring double height dining room to have a very different ambience to that of the living room, with its grey coffered ceiling and grid of white rafters. Similarly, the vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom suite lend it an air of luxury, the French doors open onto the balcony giving them panoramic views of the canal while the picture windows look out towards North Sound.
The family home is brimming with ingenious features such as: a custom master closet that includes a home gym and 50” TV, a media room with state-of-the-art A/V equipment from Creative Tech, complete with an 85” TV, 13-speaker surround sound system, a candy concession stand and popcorn machine and to optimise space, a wine bar and a bed for their three dogs tucked under the stairs in the dining room.
To ensure their vision translated into reality, the owners collaborated closely with the architect and general contractor, Wendel Construction Ltd., on every aspect of the design and construction process. They took on the interior décor and furnishings themselves sourcing products from international suppliers, as well as local vendors such as ITC, IDG, Absolutely Fabulous and Edie’s Décor, for tiles, fixtures, furniture, lights and window treatments.
Architecturally, the design is described as ‘tropical modern’ so when it came to defining the interior style, the owners chose to carry that concept through every space in the home.
“We wanted everything streamlined and didn’t want anything obstructing our efforts to create this very open concept,”Julie explains. From the glass balcony railings that allow uninterrupted views from the bedrooms to the low-profile furniture, every detail maintains a sense of clarity and understated elegance allowing the lush landscaping and water views to dominate.
To soften the expanses of concrete and glass and bring a touch of the tropics indoors they introduced natural materials: Brazilian hardwood ceilings under the bridge and over the patio, a rustic wooden dining table, fabric-upholstered chairs, leather sofas and for a colour pop blue-glazed ceramic pots.
Equally simple and unembellished, the interior colour scheme of varying shades of soft grey provides a soothing contrast to the vibrant outdoors. “We call it the house of 100 shades of grey,” they joke. “We like cooler tones, they work well with the natural wood, blue and white accents.”
Lighting, they say, was their biggest challenge of all, and although the custom-designed dining room chandelier – a cascade of round globes suspended from near-invisible wires – fills the space perfectly, finding light fixtures that were both energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing was a struggle.
As they were building their forever home, the owners wanted to use sustainable features and the latest technology where possible. This includes a solar array, a rainwater cistern for irrigation, hurricane rated LoE windows and doors, Haiku smart ceiling fans and LED lighting. All of this is complemented by a state-of-the-art security system and a Control4 home automation system for peace of mind and ultimate relaxation whilst home or away.
Bringing all the elements together, ensuring supplies arrived on time and the build stayed on schedule was a huge undertaking, decisions had to be made quickly and the logistics were often challenging. Ultimately, Julie and Lee have achieved, in record time, every objective they had in mind. It took a great deal of research, planning and dedication but the homeowners feel that the final result was an accomplishment of their vision to make their dream home a reality.
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