Home wasn’t built in a day and Dan and Caron Murphy can certainly vouch for that.
Breaking ground on their new build in February 2016, it has been a long and arduous journey. Their vision of a future family home was one they worked on together to create. From the family connection with Al and Melissa Thompson, owners of A. L. Thompson’s, and extensive experience in the building materials industry, the couple knew the only way forward would be to start from scratch on a plot of land and build the home of their dreams just as they had imagined it.
Just over a year later and with the masterpiece finally completed, the Murphys have created something quite unique. Their contemporary twist on the traditional Caymanian style has established a refined yet casual space that, most importantly, is functional for their growing family and love of entertaining.
For the couple, having a solid team in place made all the difference. Architect Mike Stroh of Trio Design, builder Everton Vidal of Multi-Built Construction and the design team at Accentrics were all involved from the early stages and worked closely together every step of the way.
“Trust us when we say, if you can get through building a house together, you can get through just about anything together,” Dan says.
The location of the property was central for the couple. Their love of the outdoors and entertaining meant the exterior of the property was just as important as the interior.
“We are not formal people,” Dan says. “We didn’t want any dead space for areas that we would never use and really focused on the outdoor living spaces as that’s where we spend a lot of our time as a family.”
The wedge-shaped piece of land that they built on created some challenges in the planning and layout stage of the process. Maximizing sunlight and wind direction was also vital.
“We wanted to be able to open up the house,” says Dan. “Whether the wind is coming from the north or south, we can capture it just about any time of the year.” And, like everything else in their home, they managed to get it just right. Located at the very end of the Grand Harbour peninsula meant the back of the house has a 180-degree view looking down the canal, which Dan describes as “the money shot.”
With advancements in technology and building practices, adopting green building strategies can maximize both economic and environmental performance and the most significant benefits can be obtained if the design and construction team takes an integrated approach from the earliest stages of a project.
Building to LEED standards would not only lessen the carbon footprint of the development, but testing done at various stages of the build by the LEED program served as an additional layer of quality control.
“When we first explored the LEED program, it became apparent to us that we were already planning on incorporating 95 percent of the practices and credentials that were required for certification into the home, so it was a no-brainer to go this route,” Dan explains.
In partnership with Trio Architecture and GreenTech, they worked together to build an LEED silver-certified home. Some of the features which contributed include LED lights throughout the home’s interior and exterior fixtures, solar panels installed on the roof and an underground cistern connected to the downspouts for rainwater harvesting, which is then used for landscape irrigation.
All exterior millwork is made from wood-free composites by Hardie Boys Inc., which not only aids in preserving forests, but ensures the millwork is maintenance-free, and carries a lifetime guarantee. High-quality wall finishes, door and window hardware, and weather-resistant light fixtures were used throughout the exterior to prevent excessive and premature weathering.
“The end-product is a testament to the fact that you don’t have to sacrifice style or functionality in order to build green and responsibly,” says Dan.
Where often the outdoor area is neglected in new builds, for the Murphys this space received just as much attention as anywhere else in the house. “Many people invest in waterfront property and hardly have any outdoor living space. It’s baffling,” Dan says.
Embracing the Caribbean indoor-outdoor lifestyle, the couple has created a space that seamlessly transitions from an intimate family room to a fully functioning waterfront entertainment area. The impressive outdoor kitchen is one such aspect that transforms this area into a livable space.
“Whether it’s family gatherings, business events, an afternoon cleaning our fresh catch and cooking it out in the Caboose (Caymanian term for outdoor kitchen), watching the kids play in the sand pit, lounging in the hammock, or having drinks in the sunken lounge by the pool, we have several outdoor spaces that can be used independently or cohesively,” says Dan.
Another aspect that the house was designed around, and which continues to unite the indoor and outdoor spaces, are the corner meet sliding glass doors. When opened, they completely vanish into the walls, creating an uninterrupted living space, striking the balance between the magic of outdoor living and the warmth of a family home.
When it came to the design, the couple were clear that the most important aspect was the flow and functionality of the home. The team at Accentrics focused on the design and layout of the living areas both inside and out. They provided guidance on functionality, space planning and overall aesthetics, and sourced furniture, window treatments and wall coverings, to ensure the finished product met the lifestyle needs of the family.
Staying true to their strong Caymanian heritage with the traditional architecture, it was also important to incorporate elements of their own personal style. The couple’s idea of a casual beach house style was quite different from wooden fish, anchors and sailboats adorning the walls. Instead, they incorporated a wide range of raw textures and finishes to achieve the earthy yet stylish décor.
Features such as seagrass wallpaper, the wooden chandelier and teak furniture pieces embody tropical living at its best with wood playing a significant part in the décor of the home. Striking teak and oak floors, a walnut countertop in the bar area and a piece of local driftwood from Cayman artist Tansy Maki hung above the stairs build a natural canvas for the interior of the home, embodying the essence of the Colonial Caribbean style.
Given their close association with the Thompsons, it is not surprising that all the building materials and almost all the fixtures came from the store. “This house is a living A. L. Thompson’s billboard,” says Dan.
Other traditional touches that nod towards the Colonial style include Caymanian limestone wall cladding, exterior shutters and louvres, and exposed ceiling rafters and decorative beams.
“When you combine all these things, we certainly feel that the home is very inviting and represents our style and vision very well,” says Dan.