Community pitches in to renovate garden villa at The Pines.
A tiny garden villa at The Pines Retirement Home has been given a big makeover, thanks to a community effort spearheaded by the Pink Ladies.
“It’s incredible, compared to what it was,” says Kelly Whiteside, interior designer at Liberty Designs, which donated its services to transform the cottage. “It’s a very calming place.”
Stylish yet practical, the 542-square-foot space is light and airy – a dramatic contrast to its former dark and drab interior.
“We went with the opposite – we lightened everything up,” says Kelly. “The darker walls made it seem a lot smaller than it is.”
The villa was home to Olive Miller, hailed for her many contributions to the community. Now 95, Miss Olive, as she is affectionately known, moved into the main residential home at The Pines, which has full-time nursing care. She still leads an active lifestyle, even having her own key fob so she can come and go as she pleases for meetings and activities.
Often called the “Mother Teresa of Cayman”, Miss Olive served as the first manager of The Pines. She is founder of the Girls Brigade, founding member of the National Council of Voluntary Organizations and co-founder of the Pink Ladies Volunteer Corps, to name a few of her community contributions. She’s received numerous accolades, including the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honor and being named a Member of the British Empire.
“The purpose of renovating Miss Olive’s villa is to honor the great work she achieved as a loyal citizen of the Cayman Islands,” says Lynda Mitchell, The Pines manager. “The renovation also gives inspiration to future upgrades for our remaining six villas. All need some repair and renovation, too.”
Lynda says the plan is to upgrade all the garden villas through fundraising and donations. There are seven villas, with one rented out to Cayman HospiceCare. The villas range from 450 to 900 square feet with studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom options.
The cozy cottages are next to the The Pines residential quarters, and offer private, independent living space for seniors who may require occasional nursing care and housekeeping assistance.
It took three weeks to remodel the villa, from start to finish. The entire interior was gutted and redone. Like most renovation projects, there were some stumbling blocks along the way – including mold in the 30-year-old bathroom. It meant ripping everything out, which also put the project over budget.
The Pines fundraising committee member Pamela Webster put out a call for donations, and within an hour or so, 10 individuals stepped up to cover the extra cost.
“The community support was overwhelming,” says Pamela. “It is truly ‘Caymankind.’”
The total cost of the renovation was around $12,000, with the Pink Ladies contributing more than half to get the project under way. A. L. Thompson’s donated the building materials; ITC the flooring, tiles and granite; and Godfrey’s the curtains. Cornerstone Group donated construction services and interior design services through its sister company, Liberty Designs.
Kelly sourced everything locally, buying some furnishings and décor pieces with funds she received after sending out a plea for donations on Facebook.
Kelly says one of the most dramatic changes was the bathroom. The tub was removed and replaced with a shower and hand rail to make it more accessible, with a new shower curtain and window dressings.
“It was not in a good state, and it wasn’t safe for an older person,” she says.
A few touches in the kitchen spruced it up, including a granite countertop and tiles. Kelly kept the cabinets, but added new hardware to change the look.
“It just transformed it. It looks like a new kitchen,” she says.
Removing the Murphy bed in what is now the dining area opened the space up and created more room for furniture. A twin bed and side table now sits in a cozy alcove opposite this space, separated by a full-length curtain.
The living area features a small sofa against the wall and a white wicker chair.
A comfy seating area, which Kelly calls the “garden room”, is outfitted with two soft chairs that invite quiet time and reflection. This space, too, is separated with a full-length curtain. The alcove leads out to the garden. “It’s a nice transition,” she says.
New lighting has been installed as well as wood plank tile flooring, which is sturdy but stylish. The tile runs horizontally, helping to lengthen the room. Artwork adorns the walls and a few plants and décor items give it a welcoming touch. Kelly also re-arranged the washer and dryer and fridge to create more space in the living area.
The night-and-day renovation has wowed many involved in the project.
“I was taken aback by the total renovation,” says Lynda. “It looks great. The new makeover was beautifully completed, and it gave the small space a sleeker design and a more up-to-date look.”
Pamela, a former Pink Ladies director and main fundraiser for the project, is also delighted with the results.
“It’s everything I hoped for,” she says. “It’s light and bright, airy and modern. It shows what can be done in small spaces. It’s stylish yet practical. It’s a place to thrive. It’s just terrific.”