For Phil Pace and Nancy Saur, communing with nature is a daily ritual.
Indeed it is at the heart and soul of their rustic Conch Point Road home in West Bay.
“Our home reflects our desire to live outdoors,” says Nancy. “It is designed to enhance our connection with the environment.”
It also mirrors the very place in which they live – the Cayman Islands. The couple’s home is comprised of three buildings or “islands” that are separated by water – the swimming pool, representing the sparkling Caribbean Sea. The pool and expansive deck are a focal point of the property, a key space for entertaining and kicking back.
Set on 2.75 acres of land, the home is built on a coastal coral-and-sand storm ridge, maximizing the view and the property’s natural beauty.
“Our home is purpose-built for us,” says Nancy, noting they followed a friend’s advice to “design your home for the way you want to live your life.”
“At the time, we didn’t understand his point,” she recalls. “It took us a number of failed design attempts to have it sink in.”
The couple eventually came up with their design criteria: “to live outdoors in the shade.”
“Once we defined “to live outdoors in the shade”, then the design, placement and execution were able to flow,” says Nancy. “Not to say it was easy from that point forward, but we had our road map. We had a North Star.”
Call of nature
Phil and Nancy first visited Cayman in 1989 on a dive excursion. The New York natives fell in love with the island, returning frequently for dive trips. Nancy eventually enlisted the help of a real estate agent to find a property in Cayman to call home, originally seeking a multiplex.
Sitting poolside in the early morning or as the afternoon wanes, there is generally a breeze while we gear up for the day or wind down and relax.
“Against our expressed desire, she brought us to Conch Point Road,” Nancy recalls. “The natural beauty of the property with its Caribbean features … well, we couldn’t resist.”
The design of the home is a variation on a Davis Frame Japanese-style tea house.
“With Davis Frame, Evolving Island and Kelly & Associates, we honed in on our personal design,” says Nancy. “Davis Frame provided the structure and know-how for the construction, and a friend in Singapore weighed in on the pool designed by Evolving Island and built by Island Pools.”
The three separate buildings – called “pods” – serve different functions, but are all connected with the great outdoors. Open, airy spaces maximize the spectacular views.
Pod 1 is the master bedroom; Pod 2 is the kitchen and living area; and Pod 3 houses the guest rooms. All spaces feature an abundance of windows and glass doors, and there are no curtains in the master bedroom or main living area in order to capitalize on the view.
“There are no blocked sight lines,” says Nancy. “Nothing interferes with the natural views.”
In the main area, the couple lives with the doors and windows wide open, although occasionally turn on the air-conditioning while entertaining.
In the kitchen, there are no upper cabinets – a design element they insisted on. “Every kitchen designer we spoke to considers that a kitchen must have uppers,” says Nancy. “We had to be so adamant to block them. The thought of hanging anything except lighting from the ceiling is anathema to both of us.”
The couple enjoys entertaining, particularly hosting dinner parties. The design takes that into consideration, allowing them to cook while still socializing.
“The design of the kitchen allows for several people to collaborate on cooking together,” says Nancy. “We’ve had friends participate in making fresh pot stickers, homemade tortillas and Indian meals – multiple chefs at the same time. And when meals are less “participatory” we can all socialize with our chef while he or she (generally Phil) cooks.”
A striking feature of the traditional timber-frame home are the high wood ceilings in each building – the beams are made from Douglas fir and the ceiling from knotty yellow pine.
Nancy not only loves the warmth that the wood exudes, but its fragrance as well. They chose stone flooring, installing unique Syrian trilobite tiling from ITC Tiles. Trilobites are hard-shelled, segmented marine creatures that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in the Earth’s ancient seas.
Occasionally to relax, Nancy sits on the floor to examine the many unique trilobites preserved in the flooring.
The flooring fits well with the living area’s water theme, that is highlighted by various nautical accents and marine-themed artwork.
The guest rooms take on a Caribbean feel that showcases local artwork while the master bedroom is personalized with items Phil and Nancy have acquired over the years, that have special meaning to them.
The separate living spaces ensure greater privacy and convenience. For example, if Nancy wants to turn in early, Phil doesn’t have to worry about disturbing her, or guests if they are entertaining. Or if Phil wakes up early, he has to go outside to the main building to make a cup of coffee, leaving Nancy sleeping undisturbed.
“This part of the design really works for us,” says Nancy. “Most people don’t realize our principal public living space doesn’t have a powder room. It does, but it is outside in Pod 1, which is consistent with how we live. Our design forces living outdoors. To do anything, you have to go outside.”
They are often asked about what they do when it rains. Again, the design takes that into account.
“We situated the pods so the prevailing weather is from slightly behind, and we have ample overhangs,” says Nancy. “We dash a bit quick if it is really coming down, which is rare. But that’s it. It isn’t an issue.”
It all goes back to their original criteria: “to live outdoors in the shade.”
“We haven’t fully figured out the shade bit yet, but we have the live outdoors bit down pat,” says Nancy.
While they may not have the shade part down, keeping cool outdoors often comes naturally.
“Sitting poolside in the early morning or as the afternoon wanes, there is generally a breeze while we gear up for the day or wind down and relax,” says Nancy.