While many new houses are veering towards a contemporary, cutting-edge design, there is a stunning canal-side residence in Grand Cayman with a look linked to the past.
This tastefully-appointed family home has a casual interpretation of traditional décor, with British colonial accents thrown into the mix for good measure.
“Finishes were chosen primarily to introduce warmth, character, and a sense of history,” explains interior designer Lydia Uzzell. “For example, the Du Chateau hand-scraped and waxed oak floors, the Grothouse handmade walnut counter on the kitchen island, and the reclaimed beams in the kitchen which were hand finished on-island by (furniture designer/maker) John Bird.
“Upholstery was kept clean and pared back, but referenced traditional design with details such as turned legs, rolled arms, and skirts.
“Fabrics were chosen for their low-maintenance nature, and slipcovers introduced in certain areas for their casual and carefree aspect. Case goods were carefully chosen to introduce elements of British colonial design, or to again imply a sense of history (think aged-looking timbers and hand-finished pieces).
“Antique area rugs were used for their colour and historical element, and were paired with jute and sisal rugs to keep the home from feeling too formal.”
Lydia, who owns Designworks Ltd., worked closely with the owners, who had a clear vision of how they wanted their home to feel and function.
“These clients don’t have a fussy lifestyle, so physical and visual comfort was paramount,” she says.
“They have two young children and love to entertain, so their home needed to be suitable for both family living and socialising.”
The focal point of the four-bedroom house is the kitchen which boasts a 24.5-foot cupola ceiling to flood the area with light, a design concept created by the owners.
“It lets in loads of natural light and lends a feeling of grandeur to the room, offset by the beams which provide a sense of scale and intimacy,” Lydia explains.
The cabinets in the kitchen are white lacquer topped with honed granite known as “black velvet”, while textured Ann Sacks backsplash tiles counterpose the drama of the black and white finishes. The tiles are a contemporary alternative to a typically traditional backsplash, and the Rohl faucets add elegance to the space.
A large, central dining island was another design concept introduced by the owners. It sits in the middle of the kitchen, allowing family and friends to gather around at meal times.
“The counter stools (for the island) were very important,” says Lydia.
“They needed to fit in aesthetically and had to be comfortable in their role as primary dining seating. Lee Industries stools fit the bill with soft upholstery, great ergonomic design, and sturdy construction.”
The kitchen features, among other brands, Viking appliances. Their large size complements the larger scale of other components in the kitchen, creating a cohesive balance. Many of these appliances have been secreted away behind cabinetry panels, including the trash compactor, ice machine and fridge/freezer.
A sitting area with four chairs is positioned in front of the kitchen, before huge glass doors that frame the deck and lovely canal vista beyond.
“The doors offer a fabulous connection between the indoors and out, visually extending the compact living room,” says Lydia.
There is another dining area on the deck, with a reclaimed oak baluster table sporting an attractive aged finish, large enough to fit 12 guests.
“The kitchen island doesn’t cater for larger groups, so the outdoor area is perfect, especially as there is plenty of comfy seating to retire to after eating,” Lydia points out.
“The owners spend a lot of time outdoors and, in fact, the (outdoor) sofas were specifically chosen for their length – they are long enough that you can comfortably lie down and lounge when the need strikes.
“The grouping of armchairs at the other end was intended more as a conversation pit, and is the perfect spot for chilling out while keeping an eye on the children in the nearby pool.”
Indoors, there is also a seating area in the den, a room which accommodates the entertainment system, and which was intended as a casual family space where everyone can pile together on the sofa.
“The sofa was custom designed to fit the room, and the room was encased with custom-designed bookshelves to give it a cosy and warm feel,” explains Lydia.
“A large ottoman sits in the middle, perfect for feet, and a beautiful antique rug from Rugs Oriental grounds everything.”
The master bedroom features his and her closets as well as an ensuite bathroom with two vanity basins and a shower which doubles as a steam room.
Both children have custom-designed bedrooms, with the nursery being a complete departure from the rest of the home, designed more as a mother’s respite rather than a baby’s room. It features pale smoky pink walls, neutral upholstery, lightly patterned drapes and lots of white accents.
The elder daughter’s room is decorated with her favourite colour, purple, and is layered with texture and patterns to create visual interest. Girly pieces such as the Oly capiz pendant, and a Currey & Co dresser covered entirely with shells, complete the space.
“The intention was to give her a room that she could grow with, that wasn’t too age specific,” says Lydia.
Another noteworthy feature of the house is the tongue and groove ceilings which looks authentic in this style of house but which are made from PVC and require little maintenance. Coupled with the wainscoting prevalent throughout the home, the interior architecture gently nods back to days gone by.
The house has modern automation and air conditioning but, in another throwback to the past, the owners are keen to open the windows and capture the canal breeze.
“The clients are definitely more naturally inclined, throwing the doors open and turning on the fans, rather than setting the air conditioning on 70 degrees all day,” says Lydia.
“On the aesthetic side of things, the fans were chosen because they evoked a casual colonial feel.”
And one of the great advantages of living by a canal is that the family can simply step outside, jump aboard their boat and sail off into North Sound and the Caribbean Sea beyond. Now that’s what dreams are made of.