When New York interior designer Eric Lysdhal was remodelling a home in the Hamptons on the eastern shores of Long Island, he looked south to the Cayman Islands for inspiration.
The owners have spent numerous winter vacations in the Caribbean, with Grand Cayman being one of their return destinations.
“Both the Cayman Islands and New York’s Long Island have many similarities in their common histories as part of Britain’s colonial past, as well as commerce and recreational connections to the sea,” says Eric.
The Caribbean supplied the American eastern seaboard with cotton, sugar, mahogany, and exotic produce. And, while the climates were not identical, the early cultures were surprisingly similar.
Today, both island regions are famed for an air of relaxed, gracious living, attracting visitors from around the globe.
“For this home, we used the colours of the sea and sand to inform the palettes, hence the abundant use of various hues of blue and white,” says Eric. “The blue grass-cloth walls of the living room yield to natural sand-coloured raffia wall covering in the dining room. Soft casual printed cotton fabrics grace both furniture and windows.”
The owners have also chosen furniture and accessories that are in line with a Cayman-inspired vibe.
In another nod to tropical design, the iron canopy beds can be clad in mosquito netting, and, referencing Cayman’s traditional basket-weaving crafts, Eric also incorporated some wicker elements in furniture as well as accessories.
Furnishings reflecting Cayman’s British-colonial history include early 19th century antiques – notably the imposing Georgian mahogany sideboard with original cellarette in the dining room – which mingle harmoniously with modern day furniture.
Blue and white Chinese porcelain and English Staffordshire ceramic accessories continue the theme throughout the home from sideboards to tabletops.
“The Hamptons and the Cayman Islands are both luxury seaside destinations which require a relaxed elegance; nothing too formal or fussy,” says Eric. “(It’s) a relaxed resort-style that says its ok to lounge barefoot and a little sand-covered, without worrying about damaging anything.”
Architecturally, the house is what is referred to as the ‘shingle style’, which is an American vernacular interpretation of the English Arts and Crafts movement, made popular in seaside resort communities around the turn of the last century.
These houses typically have split-cedar shingled walls and large sweeping verandahs, with architectural elements like pillars, gables, and railings punctuated by crisp white paint.
The interiors are an updated traditional or ‘transitional’ style combining modern sensibility with classic undertones.
Eric, who is a graduate of The New York School of Interior Design in Manhattan, first came to Grand Cayman a few years ago to consult on the decoration of a friend’s condo.
“I must say, I fell in love with the island,” he reveals. “I had done design work for resorts on other Caribbean islands, but the Cayman Islands are unique.”