Owned by Chris and Courtney Burke, Bella Vista is a contemporary neoclassical home on the serene canal front of Britannia Estates. Chris is a developer at Cornerstone Group, and the couple share the home with their two children, five-year-old Isabella, and three-year-old Elliott.

Only the exterior was completed at the time of purchase, so Donal McGrath of BDCL Architects was enlisted to help re-design the floor plan of the 12,158 square-foot home to maximize space.

The resulting home has 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, a kitchen built with professional cooks in mind (Courtney is a chef by trade), custom closets and light fixtures, and separate plans for a three-bedroom boathouse.


The expertly laid out interiors are not let down by the exterior space, which includes lush landscaping, 120 feet of canal front, an 80-foot dock and expansive infinity pool and deck area to the rear, while a brick-paved driveway and grand palms welcome guests to the front of the home.

Delicate design

When it comes to the interior design, the Burkes wanted the home to appeal to a variety of tastes, which would please future prospective buyers.

“It was definitely a balance to keep the lines of the home very clean and the flow of the home intuitive so everything is where you would think it would be,” explains Chris. “We had to balance this with grand gestures such as the commercial elevator, grand staircase and chandelier in the entrance.”

But balance they did, and the result shows stunning architectural aspects intermingling with just the right amount of impressive lighting and décor.

Neutral tiles and wall colors flow throughout the property, contrasting beautifully with rich dark wood cabinetry in many of the rooms, and allowing the “grand gestures” of other rooms to pop.

One such gesture greets visitors upon first entering the home. A spectacular six-foot wide green chandelier hangs 17 feet down through the main stairwell, which itself is lined with intricate wrought iron railings. All the light fixtures in the home were custom made by Liberty Designs, and the chandelier itself is handblown crystal inspired in style by a chandelier in a Dubai hotel lobby, and in color by the much closer North Sound.

The dining room showcases more of Liberty Design’s work, with a unique lighting feature above the dining table consisting of numerous hanging crystal forms.

We wanted something delicate yet substantial that was in keeping with our island and the ocean that surrounds it,” says Chris of the custom-made feature. “Each piece consists of two pieces of crystal that overlap each other to create the effect of jellyfish.

Another custom-made feature of the home is the soaker tub in the master bathroom. After being unable to find a tub that perfectly mirrors the 6-foot width of the dropped ceiling, the Burkes did the next best thing, and made one.

“We made it using the same process you would if you were making a boat,” explains Chris. “We gel-coated the inside and had stone wrapped around the outside topped with a translucent white onyx.”


Furnishings throughout the home are not overbearing or crowded, allowing the subtle intricacies of the design and décor to take center stage. Tray ceilings in the bedrooms and dining area, and raised molding wall panels on the stairwell and main living areas, complement the custom light features, bringing an air of understated opulence to every room.

Design also caters for entertainment, and alongside the chef’s kitchen, stocked with top-of-the-line Miele appliances, a separate bar area boasts wine storage, beer taps, ice machines and fridges. “We love the bar area for entertaining and throwing parties. It has everything a commercial bar should have,” says Chris.

However, aside from the house’s beauty and functionality, when asked what his favorite thing about living at Bella Vista is, Chris says peace of mind, referring to the impressive safety features of the home, which are born from lessons taught by Hurricane Ivan.

“If Ivan happened today I’m confident Bella Vista would be fine. If the main utilities went down we have a generator that can power the home fully, as well a 20,000-gallon cistern that can be switched over to provide grey water to the home,” explains Chris. Bella Vista is also raised to 15 feet above sea level, has hurricane rated windows, an 8” slabbed roof, and ICF construction poured with 7,000 psi concrete. “All these things are valuable when you have a young family.”

Architecturally, as well as in design and safety features, Bella Vista is certainly set apart from many other properties. Not only is the location superb for access to the Seven Mile Beach corridor and the North Sound, but the interior elements allow the home to morph into whatever the homeowners wish it to be: family home, entertainment venue, boating base, or tranquil hideaway – close enough to the action but safely tucked away in one of the island’s exclusive communities.