Collection of Curios

Ocean Between the Waves. Photos by Stephen Clarke.

House is packed with an eclectic collection of art and artifacts as well as featuring a giant aquarium.

Featuring what is thought to be one of the largest indoor saltwater aquariums in the world, Ocean Between the Waves is a house overflowing with character and curiosities.

Owners Steve and Andrea Hughes love fish, animals and art, with the five-bed home brimming with artifacts they have collected from around the globe.

Passionate about keeping fish, Steve designed the main saltwater aquarium in the lounge (which is around 20,000 U.S. gallons), the freshwater aquarium inside the entrance hall (1,320 U.S. gallons), and a 5-foot aquarium in the master bedroom, which houses a freshwater stingray. There is also a fish pond in the stairwell, a water feature with fish surrounding the front entrance, and koi pond in the garden.

Colorful glass fish art“I first kept fish as a young child and have had aquariums in every home I’ve owned but the Cayman versions are the big ones,” says Steve. “I have a friend in the U.S. who shares a similar obsession and runs an equally large aquarium at his home. He’s a regular visitor to Cayman and we often spend days talking about ideas we have to improve the system and equipment, and he has made much of the equipment I use in Cayman.

“We are both keen to spend time diving and snorkeling in Cayman which helps build an appreciation of what makes fish happy and healthy and how reef systems operate in the wild.”

The big aquarium in the wall. Furniture and a fish sculpture in the foreground.
Giant aquarium in living room.

Books on a shelfThe largest aquarium is 20 feet long, 10 feet wide and 16 feet tall, with a separate plant room that houses all the filtration and water-handling, computer controls and quarantine facilities. It uses natural as well as high-end LED and halide lighting, and can switch between daylight and moonlight modes.

Fish from different areas of the world, including many native to Caribbean waters, swim in shoals inside the huge aquarium, which is a focal point of the living room wall.

Marcella Nasciemento on slide, an aquarium beside the slide
Marcella Nasciemento on slide.

“Along with my friend in the U.S., we know of most of the really large home aquariums out there,” says Steve. “We believe (this to be) the second largest in North America/Europe. We know of some large private aquariums in the Middle East, but very few people, globally, approach the hobby on this scale.”

Design features

Other than the many fish “zones”, the house has several fanciful design features including a giant slide from the second floor down to the ground floor in the main hallway.

“It’s made of stainless steel and started with a library image that the architect had, and we loved the idea,” Steve explains. “Eliza (our daughter) and her friends use it constantly, but we all use it pretty much daily and we encourage all visitors to the house to do the same.”

Pool table below a high ceiling with second story showing up on the left. Art all around the walls.
The pool table.

There is also a bright red vintage Coca Cola retail fridge that was completely renovated and refurbished by a specialist supplier in the U.S,, which stands alone as pack-a-punch statement piece.

A pool table takes center stage in the hallway, adding another element of entertainment to this eclectically furnished and decorated home.


Even the walls are awash with artwork, covering just about all the available space.

Much of it from the indigenous artists of the Canadian coastal community known as the Sailish people, in particular Susan Point.

Pop art of several types, including work by the French street artist Mr. Brainwave, and photography linked to the music industry, adorns every surface. In addition, there are original animated cartoon cells that are becoming ever rarer.

Spiral stairway with various art pieces around it.
Stairway to attic.

Other stunning design aspects of the home are the Moroccan chandeliers, the bathtub and telescope in the master bedroom, and the ornaments and sculptures dotted throughout the rooms and public areas.

Steve and Andrea built the house with architect Mike Stroh, completing it in 2016, two years after moving to the Cayman Islands from Andrea’s native Brazil.

And despite being choc-a-block with their treasures, the couple couple took only two days to decorate the house.

“We’d had all our things in storage for the time while we were building, but people couldn’t believe how quickly we arranged everything; it was like we had been living here for years,” says Steve.

And what do Steve and Andrea love most about their home?

“The varied nature of things, generally, and the fact that we got to design it and see it come together,” says Steve. “It’s very much a family home but also intended to be fun and interesting. Everyone says there is so much to see, especially with the artwork, and the fish, of course.”