Caribbean with a twist

With breathtaking views of North Sound, this West Indian-inspired family home combines chic design with classic comfort.

Situated on the tranquil waters of North Sound, the Canal Point abode has something for everyone. It is a house of entertainment and elegance, relaxation and romance, family and fun.

It is an “everything home,” explains Joyce Wells Burcombe, who designed the residence to accommodate the myriad aspects of family life. It is a home for teenagers and for adults, for raucous Super Bowl parties, laidback afternoons in the pool and elegant dinners. 

“The site generated the layout,” says Joyce, developer and architectural designer at Vista Development.

“I wanted to maximise the ocean views, the trade winds, the mangrove buffer, and ensure there was very little glass exposure to the east or west.

“I wanted to create a home that was very classic, very contemporary with a West Indian vernacular.”

The house certainly takes its cue from its location. The sun-drenched living room features floor to ceiling windows that capture the views of North Sound. Shades of off-white, taupe and cream are reminiscent of Cayman’s sandy shores while subtle splashes of turquoise, in statement cushions and delicate vases, bring the sea into the interior aesthetic. The entire house is anchored by a unique staircase, in which the metal poles of the balustrade have been manipulated to resemble the waves of the ocean.

“I was inspired by a lot of lovely Jamaican houses; that West Indian style of design. I guess living in the Caribbean for 31 years has helped,” Joyce laughs. “I try to bring the outdoors in as much as possible.”

The key was to create a contemporary look that was warm and welcoming, without compromising on style.

“I didn’t want [the house] to look dated; I didn’t want to succumb to fads,” Joyce says of the four-bedroom, eight-bathroom residence, which also has an office, home theatre room and self-contained guest suite. “When a lot of people go contemporary, they use chrome, glass, shiny surfaces, leather – it’s very cold. [This house] is contemporary with a warm feel.

“I don’t use a lot of colours, I stick to a mainly neutral palette. My feeling is, look outside. There’s your colour,” she gestures to the indigo ocean, only metres from the back patio.

“With colour, I believe you’re really locking yourself in. Neutrals are always timeless.”

Joyce turned to a handful of designers for the furnishings, including Christopher Guy, Adriana Hoyos and Italian company Selva, with Palecek accessories and rugs from Karastan and Dreamweaver. Her considerable experience in real estate development meant she was able to source directly from the manufacturers. If she couldn’t find the exact items she wanted, Joyce created bespoke pieces, including a stunning coffee table that appears to float in the centre of the living room.

On an architectural level, the house features unique characteristics. Joyce designed the three-storey structure to sit as low on the location as possible, using elements such as raked eaves and gutter brackets, to give the appearance of only two-storeys. Construction began in June 2008 and was completed by September the following year.

“After Ivan, there was a panic about building three-storey homes,” Joyce explains. “But a lot of these homes look like towers. They’re unattractive.

“The idea [at Canal Point] was to build a three-storey home, but make it appear like it was two-storeys. The roof appears to sit lower than it actually does. And downstairs we installed light wells to add light to the space, so it doesn’t have that dark basement feel.”

The aim was to create a house that amazed both its inhabitants and visitors.

“A house is sold when you open the front door,” Joyce says.

“People know within about 15 seconds if they want to buy or not. They’ve got say ‘Wow’ when they enter.”

The living room is designed to dazzle. The grandiose space is awash in shades of cream and eggshell with a sparkling chandelier front and centre. Delicate white drapes create a feeling of intimacy and delineate the area from the open-plan design.

Privacy becomes more apparent further into the house. The kitchen is an ode to food lovers with granite surfaces, extensive cabinet space and luxury appliances.  A deluxe six-burner stove takes pride of place.

“I call this my Altar to the Kitchen Gods,” Joyce says with a laugh as she gestures to the stove. “Every high-end house should have one.” 

Small ceramic bowls are used to store mobile phones, wallets, keys and sunglasses, removing the countertop clutter found in most family kitchens. A large dining table and deluxe chairs scattered throughout the space create an elegant, yet relaxed environment.

 The top floor is home to the secluded bedroom wing. Each of the four bedrooms has a distinct “personality”, Joyce says, yet all follow a neutral palette. The antechamber, around which the bedrooms are arranged, is intensely personal; shelves line every wall, teeming with family photographs and chic knick knacks.

 But it is in the master bedroom where this attention to detail comes into its own. It is Joyce’s favourite room in the house, with a theme she describes as “glamorous and comfortable”. The lavish, dark wood bed, with textured backboard, commands the space. Floor to ceiling windows, with an adjoining balcony, bathe the room in natural light. Swarovski crystal inlay, on the drawer pulls of cabinets in the master bedroom and bathroom, adds to the sophistication.

The master bedroom features a spacious en suite that overlooks the water. A free-standing bathtub, sleek vanity and white gossamer curtains, combined with ample natural light, create a feeling of old Hollywood glamour; it is deeply romantic, with a hint of whimsy.

“I like to create luxurious bathrooms,” Joyce says. “You spend so much time in there, it makes sense.”

On the bottom floor, the home theatre room is a place of leisure. Far from the typical, dimly-lit basement, light wells illuminate the room, instilling a bright, cheerful atmosphere.

“It’s the fun room,” Joyce says, referring to the pool table that converts into a card table; a luxurious corner lounge that could fit a family and friends; a chic bar; and a huge screen perfect for watching films or sport. Vivid Cuban artworks from the streets of Havana line the walls. Side tables made of reclaimed driftwood complete the “Man Cave” vibe.

Outside, it is difficult to compete with the stunning ocean views. Instead, Joyce created a simple, stylish area for everyone to enjoy, whether a relaxed barbeque with friends or an afternoon swimming with the kids. Sumptuous bamboo and wicker furniture by Jardin de Ville borders the pebble-lined swimming pool and gazebo. At night, the outdoor area is transformed as LED lights set into the deck cast an ethereal glow over the patio.

Joyce believes the home reflects her passion for design and architecture. Building a house is a process she relishes from start to finish, likening it to fitting together all the pieces of a puzzle.

“I love what I do, I have so much fun,” Joyce says with a laugh.

“I love being able to take a pencil and a piece of paper, and work out how to put all the pieces of the puzzle together – the view, the winds, the landscape, the materials, the location. I love watching it grow from nothing.”

From this nothing, the Canal Point house has blossomed into a stylish and welcoming residence. Yet, it seems so much more than just an elegant house. For Joyce, it is about creating a home. 


Gary White