Out of Africa, Cayman Islands
Featuring the finest Afro-Caribbean fusion, doors open on the fiercest design makeover to hit Cayman’s scene-stealing Seven Mile Beach.
Words by Juliet Austin. Photography by Willowdale Photography.
According to South African poet, Bridget Dore, “You cannot leave Africa… It is always with you, there inside your head.” Not surprising then that the call of the continent resonates loud and clear in one family’s bold renovation at The Sovereign, a collection of 24 private waterfront residences located in the heart of Seven Mile Beach.
African-born, world-travelled and washed ashore in the Cayman Islands, the owners were eager, above all else, to create a family home stamped with their own unique design aesthetic; an eclectic combination of contemporary and comfortable that reflected their international background.
Design mavens, David Wilson and Michelle Butler of Design Studio recall, “Our clients were a young, stylish family with a clear desire to make their space feel like a home rather than a condo… To that end we drew inspiration from contemporary loft design, adding industrial elements and modern, minimalist detailing to reflect a sense of urbanity and stylishness.”
Overseen by veteran property managers, Neil Purton and Gary Targett of BCQS, the seven months of renovations saw the property taken down to a raw concrete shell before being built back up again in a complete reinvention of condo living.
Located on the second floor, the unrivalled views exert a magnetic appeal, luring you onward from the moment you step inside. Four dramatic African-esque domed lanterns, hanging from the layered walnut ceiling at the entrance, draw the gaze upward along the wide hallway – a tantalising preamble to views of the aquamarine and ink-stained horizon. The owner explains, “The hallway has great height and soft flow, snaking down the entire length of the condo. Although subdued, its clear purpose sets the tone for the entire residence.”
Two simple wooden steps, delineated by exposed urban steel beams, drop down to the split-level living, dining and kitchen areas, opening the space wide to add impetus to your arrival at the ultimate destination: a deep, breezy balcony, brimming with sumptuous seating options, that stretches across the entire frontage of the property. The design directive requires no explanation: “… the flow is always toward the ocean.”
Offsetting the dazzling blue skies and sun-kissed beachscape, inside possesses a calm, sheltered quality – a refuge infused with earth tones and cool neutrals. Window dressings are minimal with electric blinds allowing for ease of living. Fresh white chaser-stone tiles, reminiscent of beach sand, invite a relaxed barefoot lifestyle, while customised millwork and wood detailing contrast with crisp white walls and striking crafted steel. Surfaces by ITC appear streamlined, eliminating visual clutter. Here, simplicity and functionality rule supreme.
Chic living areas are bright and open, defined by area rugs from Rugs Oriental and scattered cowhides by Dwell, that introduce tribal flair and sustain a connection to the wild. A nod to the couple’s love for cooking and entertaining, a large island dominates the state-of-the-art kitchen by Bon Vivant. Here, a vertically stacked wine rack transforms into an ingenious design feature and an antique wooden harvest dining table is given a modern twist with customised steel legs. Sourced on-island from IDG, it extends the full length of the dining area, flood-lit during the day by sunlight entering through a wall of arched windows. By night, a single chandelier featuring clusters of dangling porcelain forms chimes in the breeze and adds a touch of coastal whimsy.
Procured locally from Dwell or sourced from Italy, furnishings are intended for comfort and practicality. Ethnic print cushion covers, gold accents and organic wood grain create an Afro-Caribbean fusion. Quirkily curated objets d’art – a playful pair of sculpted meerkats standing to attention and a cheeky trio of warthogs marching in line – reinforce the African theme, while an eclectic assortment of paintings from across the globe tell the story of one family’s journey to this place. Marvel superhero canvases add fun punches of colour, while the atmospheric watercolour of wildebeest charging into a storm delivers texture, movement and personality. And then, of course, there’s the elephant in the powder room.
This sense of originality extends into each of the four bedrooms and accompanying en suite bathrooms. With floor-to-ceiling doors utilising the full height of the space, rooms brim with character. Light and airy, with soft furnishings from local providers, Bedside Manor and Living.ky, spaces come alive with a Noah’s Ark of animal prints and nature-inspired curios. Nowhere more so than in the master bedroom, where dramatic walnut double doors open, Alice-in-Wonderland style, to reveal a dreamy bed, custom-carved with vines and flowers. A bold zebra print ottoman and Baobab Tree prints evoke African plains, while in the adjoining bathroom, LED light reflects off a spectacular gold mosaic wall creating an ambience of refined sophistication.
They say that home is where one’s story begins, but this novel and thoughtful renovation possesses a timeless quality, a connectivity between past, present and future; indoor and outdoor; nature and nurture. With its preference for subtlety and detail versus the ornate, texture versus colour, and comfort versus showiness, the only thing it screams is authenticity. Redefining condo living, this family home really is life perfected.
Countertops & surfaces: ITC
Interior Design: Design Studio
Kitchen: Bon Vivant
Project & Build Management: BCQS
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