Mosaic tile and tactile wallpaper that mirror the shades of the sea are featured in a West Bay residence remodeled by homeowner.
Feature walls do the talking in this refurbished family home – whether encrusted with opulent mosaic or tactile wallpaper – reflecting the personal style of its lawyer-turned-designer owner.
Light shimmers over an expanse of brilliant aqua as the afternoon sun dips over West Bay, glints of gold catching the eye here and there.
This is not the sea, but rather the extraordinary textured wallpaper that covers one side of Katia Zaiontchkovsky’s living room.
Her love of vibrant hues (even her Louboutins are an eye-popping mix of fuchsia, tangerine and teal) and the property’s beachfront setting are perfectly fused in this turquoise fabric-based “paper” made by French brand Élitis.
The color perfectly matches the waves lapping the shore, just beyond the sliding-glass patio doors. Interwoven with metallic threads for an iridescent effect, it makes regular wallpaper seem about as interesting as a slice of bleached white bread next to an artisanal wholegrain loaf.
“It was obvious that the living room colors needed to reflect and be a continuation of the ocean,” Katia says. The sofa covers were custom-made in a snorkel blue, like that of the sea beyond the reef. It’s on this wide, backless couch that she loves to cuddle up with her husband and three children to watch movies on the roll-down cinema screen.
Upstairs, another Élitis-papered feature wall packs a punch in the master bedroom – this time a kaleidoscopic, photographic pattern in warm, sunset shades. These statement areas are always perfectly offset by the choice of clean contemporary lines for the fittings and furniture.
Floor plan overhaul
Katia’s changes to the property run a lot deeper than rolls of unusual wallpaper and exotic trinkets, though.
“When we first saw the house, the interior hadn’t been changed since the unit was built in 1996,” she says. “Some serious renovations were needed, but I immediately imagined what I wanted to do with the space; it comes to me rather naturally.”
No doubt her abilities were honed by previous home renovations: before moving to Cayman three years ago, she had completely refurbished four properties in France.
One of the first major changes to Conch Point was overhauling the multi-level ground floor layout. Instead of a step down to reach the living room and another back up to the awkwardly shaped kitchen, now it all lies on one family friendly level. It is far more open, with a minimalist white kitchen that blends into the living space.
A long laundry room and garage area were transformed into a guest suite of 350 sq. feet, including a closet and bathroom, while the den has been converted into a home office.
New windows and flooring were installed throughout; the latter is a ceramic tile that closely resembles hardwood, since Katia loves the aesthetic of natural floorboards but was conscious of the risk of storm damage that comes with this tropical oceanfront location.
As for the first story, the entire floor plan has been changed. The children’s bedroom was enlarged significantly by reclaiming space from the original built-in cupboards in the master bedroom. It was goodbye to the dated corner bathroom in favor of a huge walk-in shower.
They also extended the second bathroom to accommodate the freestanding tub.
Making a splash
Thanks to Katia’s innovative use of mosaic tiling, these bathrooms are now more like works of art than mere practical clean-up spaces, boasting all the dazzle and glitz of a Gustav Klimt painting or jewelry box. They were inspired by Italian designer Bisazza.
“The difference is that my supplier, which is at least three times cheaper, can also custom-make any kind of pattern you want,” Katia says. “You can get very creative with those tiny chips and make any kind of pattern. It gives endless possibilities to match any style.”
Tracking down better-value versions of the luxury designs she admires has become something of a specialism for Katia after eight months renovating Conch Point. Another bit of savvy sourcing involved finding a Corian-esque tub from a Chinese company, for a fraction of the $9,000 that an original would have cost here. Amassing a little black book of reliable suppliers, she decided to start her own custom sourcing company, Zaikat.
“Having saved so much money buying from overseas and getting those beautiful materials and products, I thought I shouldn’t be the only one to benefit from this,” she says.
Conch Point is certainly testament to her creativity, and no doubt some of that commercial nous from her former career as a litigation and business lawyer will come in handy, too.
Space to play
One of the additions Katia cherishes most is a “little Montessori-inspired corner” for one-year-old son Marcel in the living room, with shelves of toys based around an organic baby mat from the United States.
“When the girls were small, they didn’t have an official play area in the living room, so it was always filled with toys that you needed to take back to their rooms; it was a constant mess,” she says. “This room is where our family spends most time and so it’s great to have this little space for him to be with us and for everything he uses.”
But the property’s piece de resistance has to be the beachfront terrace, boasting a 30-foot infinity pool in place of the poky Jacuzzi that stood there previously. The new pool is decorated with more Bisazza-inspired mosaic work, this time in a multitude of oceanic blues.
White Trex was selected for the surrounding deck to give a sense of harmony with the water while creating an optical illusion of extra space.
As for the cushioned bench along the pool’s eastern edge, the idea was borne out of Katia’s travels to Ibiza with its chic poolside lounge bars.
“It’s probably the best spot in the house, especially for the sunset,” she says. “I just imagined myself sitting there, sipping something and listening to lounge music while admiring the sun go down with some friends. It’s just as magical as it sounds. This is my happy place.”