A Family Retreat

There are many ways to describe the Hesters’ home: dramatic, stunning, charming, inviting.  Yet, within moments of stepping into the Salt Creek abode, it is clear that only one word can adequately describe the heart of this home: family.

“This is a family home,” says Julie Hester, as she relaxes on the waterfront patio on a hot summer morning.

“It’s not a show home,” her husband Gary agrees, “it’s homey. It’s a large house, but it’s lived in.”

Situated on the shores of North Sound, the Hesters’ home is truly a sight to behold. Stylish, yet relaxed, trendy, yet comfortable, it has all the amenities that a large family, with no less than four teenage boys, could need.

After relocating from Florida, Julie and Gary decided the quiet, gated community of Salt Creek was perfect for their family of six. It was a decision they have never regretted.

“It was a central location. We liked being right next to Seven Mile Beach,” explains Julie.

“Salt Creek is a small, family development…..it’s very safe and private.”

“I really liked the look of the homes in Salt Creek,” Gary adds, referring to the colonial style of architecture used in some of the neighbouring houses.

“And because of the water, there is a constant breeze, which we love,” Julie continues as she relaxes on a plush outdoor lounge.

“I spend all my time out here. It’s so quiet and peaceful. This was the last lot on the block and we just love the location on the sound.

“Now when I go inside, I get too cold from the air-conditioning.”

Indeed, Julie relishes the gentle winds off the North Sound, which offer continuous respite from Cayman’s stifling heat. The couple has taken advantage of their location to create the perfect balance between indoor and outdoor living.

The family spends much of their time outdoors, swimming in the pristine pool, relaxing in the sumptuous lounges on the patio, or entertaining in the spacious, state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen. A long wooden bench, made from a hollowed out Balinese canoe, is a striking accent to the outdoor area.

A custom-made iron fence extends around the pool area, delineating the space from the lush garden. The rails feature ornate butterflies and vines, with Gary and Julie’s initials joined in a heart.

A bottle opener is even concealed within the fence. It is evident that this is a home for fun and leisure, a home in which everyone can join in the excitement or retreat to their own private space.

Indoors, the home retains its sense of comfortable style. A cozy media room, featuring the only personal 3D cinema on the island, a 10-foot hidden screen, and 7.1 surround sound, revolutionizes the concept of a home cinema.

Sports memorabilia on the walls further adds to the inviting ambience. It is Gary’s favourite room, a relaxed departure from the usual formality of a media room.

“I didn’t want a conventional cinema room,” Gary explains. “I wanted it to be comfortable, like a lounge, rather than a formal cinema. It is a comfortable cinema.”

Comfort is central to this family home. There are no overt elements of opulence, and every part of the house radiates with a sense of warmth and familiarity. It is just as easy to imagine rowdy teenagers watching television with friends as it is to imagine Julie and Gary hosting dinner parties around the pool.

“We are not gold leaf people,” says Gary, with a laugh.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the spacious, sun-drenched kitchen. Inspired by the charming feel of an English farmhouse, with a predominantly white palette, the kitchen is welcoming in every sense of the word.

The rustic décor blends seamlessly with the state-of-the-art appliances, and the piece de résistance, a huge, black granite countertop, which took 15 men to install. You could almost picture a dairy cow wandering past the nearby window.

“It has a very English or even French feel,” explains Julie. “As we are from England, we wanted to incorporate those European sensibilities. We wanted the kitchen to be a defined space, not open plan.”

The spacious kitchen is also the perfect space to create a gourmet meal, with every accoutrement a budding chef could need or want.

An adjacent living room, which features a similar neutral colour scheme, is another area where the family can come together to relax and unwind. Its location enables Julie to chat to her boys while working in the kitchen, meaning she never misses a moment with her family.

In the foyer, a sweeping, curved staircase ascends to the second and third floors. Designed by Karoly Szücs, of Artisan Metal Works, the wrought-iron staircase immediately captures the eye and adds an element of drama to the home’s entrance, contrasting with the sumptuous chairs and coffee table of the foyer.

Gary and Julie wanted a unique, one-of-a-kind staircase that would define the space, and they are delighted with the final result.

“I wanted an amazing staircase, and Karoly really delivered,” Gary says. “We gave Karoly an idea of what we wanted, but he came up with the design. These stairs are one of my favourite parts of the house.”

 “We really wanted a grand entrance,” continues Julie, who used local professionals and sourced local furniture as much as possible.

The second floor is home to the four sons, who each have their own spacious bedroom. There is also a relaxed family room, featuring a pool table and video game set-up, where the boys can relax and play with friends, without taking over the rest of the home. A large balcony overlooks the stunning vistas of North Sound; the perfect spot to while away the afternoon.

On the third floor, Julie and Gary have a private retreat, featuring a bedroom, sitting room, and his and her bathrooms. Within the confines of this private space, barely a noise can be heard from downstairs.

The same breathtaking views of the water are evident from their bedroom, providing the ultimate view to wake up to. A nautical theme, with shades of sand and cream, and sea-inspired décor, mirrors the waterfront location while adding to the sense of calm and seclusion. This is a slice of heaven for the busy couple.

“We love having our own space where we can get away,” Julie says.

Throughout the abode, from the warmth of the kitchen to the pleasure of the boys’ wing to the tranquility of the outdoor area, it is evident that this is a home for living. It radiates warmth and harmony, without compromising on style. And Julie and Gary wouldn’t have it any other way.

family retreat

Stephen Clarke & Justin Uzzell