Inspired by their many trips to Bali, the owners of this luxurious villa decided to build their own tropical oasis with breathtaking oceanfront views.
Nestled in Grand Cayman’s idyllic East End district, off the Queen’s Highway and just past Colliers Beach, stands “Stepping Stone,” a luxurious, Balinese-inspired oceanfront home.
Evoking quintessential Caribbean living, the four-bedroom-plus-den contemporary home boasts breathtaking views of the sea and encompasses mature palm trees, a white sandy beach and an organic garden filled with exotic fruit and vegetables.
The owners are Sean and Jamie Maas, a Canadian couple in their early 30s who do much of their work online. Collectively, they run a mortgage portfolio on the ground in Canada; Jamie is also a freelance editor working with clients abroad.
The well-traveled couple has made frequent sailing trips to the Indonesian archipelago over the past few years and Bali’s magical hold is evident in many of the home’s design elements, from the high vaulted ceilings with wooden beams, to open spaces, to the use of natural materials.
They arrived in Cayman in late 2014 and wasted no time looking for a plot of land to build their dream home that would reflect their personal style and love of travel. After they spent three days driving around the island, they settled on the home’s present location.
“We instantly fell in love with it and knew right away it was the right place to build,” says Jamie. “We feel so comfortable and safe in the East End. The community has really welcomed us, and the neighbors look out for each other.”
The home broke ground in February 2015 and the couple moved in by August 2016. Phoenix Construction built the home, along with Trio Architecture, but Sean and Jamie took the lead on many design aspects, meticulously planning out the tiniest details and fixtures right down to the door hardware, light bulbs and tiles.
The couple loves to entertain and host dinner parties for friends and family. Since Sean has a culinary background, it comes as no surprise that the kitchen is his favorite spot. It contains a breakfast bar with Fusion granite countertop; Birdseye maple cupboards with walnut wood detailing; Thermadore commercial-grade appliances, such as double ovens (including steam oven and a microwave that turns into an oven); and built-in PolyScience sous vide professional immersion circulator.
The dining room’s accordion hurricane-rated doors help provide a seamless transition between the interior and exterior living space, wrapping around two corners of the room to offer beautiful views of the backyard. The hand-carved dining table is made from a solid slab of live-edge African Bubinga wood; its 12 chairs were custom-made from the same wood. Completing the look are two lantern-shaped chandeliers.
The couple work well as a creative team even when their tastes differ. Jamie leans toward more modern aesthetics and eclectic pairings. “I like it when things don’t quite match,” she says. “Sean will pick a traditional thing and I will see how we can modify it.” For example, Jamie designed the oversized red mahogany front door of the home, which was crafted in Honduras, while Sean sourced the ornate wrought iron handles made in Lithuania.
Throughout the house natural materials prevail, like Canadian cedar ceiling beams (stained in red mahogany), and Brazilian Acacia wood floors, which have a striking herringbone pattern in the great room to help define the space. The floor tiles are predominately Peacock slate, while a variety of granite tiles have been used for countertops and walls. Each of the five bathrooms has their own tile. From moody Titanium, to swirling Blue Tiffany Amazonite and Blue Bahia, to earthy Tigers Eye, the couple says the tiles are abstract representations of the surrounding ocean on any given day.
Sean and Jamie’s relaxed style is most evident in the open-concept great room, which is adorned with art collected from travels through Africa, such as masks and a “Tree of Life” sculpture from Tanzania. Jamie loves to curl up to a good book on the couch with the glistening sea staring straight ahead. “I picked a really comfy couch that you can just sink into, and to see this view, it is just perfect,” she says.
The adjoining billiards space is separated by floor tile and its own vaulted beamed ceiling. It contains an exquisitely crafted tournament-sized pool table (by Brunswick Billiards) that is made of re-purposed distressed mahogany parquet. Two beer barrels purchased from Cayman Spirits Co. have also been re-purposed; at one point they contained the company’s Seven Fathoms rum, but now act as pub tables.
“We have a TV by the pool table if you want to watch sports while we have a get together, but we wanted this area to be open to appreciate the view and overall space,” says Sean.
Much of the art that adorns the home’s walls are by Hawaiian artists, such as Stephen Valier, and many portray marine life scenes; the furniture is in keeping with the Balinese-theme and bought from stores like Restoration Hardware and Theodore Alexander.
There are two garden-facing bedrooms situated on the other side of the great room, as well as a spacious master bedroom that opens directly onto the pool deck to offer the same spectacular views of the sea.
An antique chest, made in 1602, sits at the end of the king-sized bed, providing a dramatic focal point in the room. Sean sourced the chest online, which comes from a church in France and has the original lock and key. He presented it to Jamie for her 30th birthday, and it doubles as bed pillow storage at night.
The ensuite bathroom is fitted with whirling Black Cloud Onyx tiles, its pattern reminiscent of tide pools, while the Kohler sink is part of the brand’s Artisan series; the interior shower also extends to the outdoors, with the sights and sounds of nature all around.
On the second floor of the home is a high-tech theatre room with full wet bar and comfy black leather reclining seats. Next door is Jamie’s office and a spacious bedroom with ensuite bathroom and ocean-facing balcony.
The energy efficient home has a net-zero design, which includes a 20-kilowatt solar array and a 50,000-gallon cistern to gather rainwater. The smart home also features a Savant system installed by Audiophile, and controls everything from the lighting to the blinds to the thermostats to the pool – all at the touch of a button.
No detail has been spared in the backyard, which includes a modern heated perimeter overflow pool built by Caribbean Aquatic Pools. It links to a pergola-covered sunken seating area and fire pit via large stepping stones. There is also a separate hot tub; full outdoor kitchen; shower with bathroom; and plenty of seating areas, including a large day bed and hammock ideal for daytime naps.
Just a few steps down, a 160-foot-wide powdery white beach awaits. There is no ironshore, just soft turtle grass at the shoreline and a sandy bottom that stretches out 75 feet. The couple’s water toys include jet skis tethered to a 110-foot dock, kayaks, paddleboards, and a Hobie Cat sailing catamaran anchored just offshore. Sean loves to catch fresh lobster. “I was lobster diving for two and half hours the other day. I’m up to 20 this year so far,” he says.
Vigoro Nursery provided the landscaping, which encompasses artificial grass and grow boxes and plantings of herbs, fruit and vegetables like tamarind, pineapples, pomegranates, avocados, guava, mango, and lemon trees, to name just a few.
One of the couple’s biggest challenges of creating a home from the bottom up was getting materials shipped on time and coordinating all the elements. Although stressful at times, they found the process deeply satisfying – it was also a great exercise on how to communicate as a couple. They will soon be doing it all over again with a plot of land next door, which will, undoubtedly, turn into another splendid tropical oasis.