Best of friends

The Mulrys’ house  

Two couples who are best of friends had the same architect, builder, budgets and nine-month timeline to construct their new homes – with completely different results.

Both residences are located next to the water, with Alex and Prue Lawson by the canal at Grand Harbour while Matt and Louise Mulry are by the canal at Crystal Harbour.

For Alex and Prue, building a dream home from scratch was something that felt right from an economic perspective as well as from a design standpoint.

After interviewing many builders and architects on island, the Lawsons chose Neil Rooney of Exeter Development and The Phoenix Group, and architect Mike Stroh of TRIO Design Consultants, to bring their dream to fruition.

After one long discussion and a few bottles of wine, Alex and Prue convinced Matt and Louise to call Mike and Neil and start the road to their own custom-home adventure.  Although both couples have many things in common, their design tastes are on opposite sides of the spectrum; the Lawsons lean toward contemporary style, while the Mulrys preferences are more traditional.

“Their particular taste and design direction not only follow their personality but also the way each family functions,” says Mike. “For the Mulrys, we designed a house with well-defined spaces, each with a particular function, whereas for the Lawsons, the house has more of an open plan, with flexibility on the definition of spaces.”

Open plan with a canal view.

The Lawsons’ house

The Lawsons arrived in Cayman in 2008 from Brisbane, Australia, and both are restructuring specialists: Alex works for KPMG, while Prue is with PWC.

Together with Mike and Neil, the couple was able to develop a blueprint for the house fairly quickly and ensure that they would stay within their target budget.

They chose Grand Harbour for its investment potential, the canal’s wide and flowing design and appealing sea wall.

The inspiration for their modern 3,960-square-foot home was based on fond memories they each had of childhood vacations in beach spots in Queensland.

“It was memories of family barbecues, backyard cricket and long hours in the pool that inspired us to design a house that was very open and entertainment-focused,” says Alex.

The home comprises four bedrooms plus den and loft, and three full bathrooms and a powder room; one of the main-floor bedrooms has been converted into a playroom for their two-year-old daughter Arabella.

Arabella Lawson

Natural light

Characterized by clean lines and an expansive glass frontage in the form of folding doors, the interior is flooded with natural light and enhanced by 22-foot-high ceilings that extend into a bright loft, and a skylight window which allows the canal to form a stunning backdrop.

To achieve this look and feel, they created a “great room,” which effortlessly blends indoor and outdoor into one.

The room can easily accommodate big dinner parties as well as play dates for Arabella without having to move any furniture at all.

It also leads out to a double-story covered patio that includes a large teak dining table and a mini-lounge area for Arabella, as well as a 34-foot-long pool overlooking the canal.

Although the home has a minimalist, streamlined look, it was important for them to incorporate natural elements in the form of wood and leather to give a sense of warmth.

A wooden slab dining table sourced directly from Bali sits underneath a chandelier made of seashells; and the all-white leather furniture completes the chic coastal look.

The Lawsons referred to the websites and as source guides as well as for inspiration, and ordered a lot of the furniture online.

Neil also has all his clients build a file on, which can be used as a digital image board to help identify pieces they want.

“That gives us a very clear picture of the style, complexity and finish level that they are expecting when we start setting budgets,” he says.

Tastefully landscaped with climbing vines along the side of the home, the Mulrys’ backyard also includes an outdoor kitchen with built-in barbecue, beer fridge and ice maker as well as wall-mounted rock speakers. It’s the perfect spot to entertain friends while taking in the year-round northeasterly breezes and afternoon shade.

The sleek, white kitchen also includes a full slab of Volaka marble, with further slabs used to create a backsplash that runs the full length of the counter. The countertop itself is made from pure white Caesarstone marble to complete the streamlined look.

A truly modern home with a few rustic elements thrown in for good measure, the Lawsons are finally living the coastal dream of their childhood memories, albeit along a peaceful canal on a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea.

Swimming pool & patio.



Alex and Prue Lawson’s home.