Building and designing a new beach house on a tiny island is not the easiest of jobs.
This was a personal project and I was working with several people who all have different tastes. I wanted to incorporate everyone’s ideas yet make sure the space was cohesive.
This is a cottage so nothing too fancy or formal. A cottage is more traditional. That’s why we have spindles and rails on the veranda and not glass. I wanted it to be comfortable. It’s Relaxed Chic. It’s the vacation home of your favorite aunt and uncle who like to have a cocktail, or two, as they watch the sun set from their veranda.
The logistics! The one two punch of the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Atlantic and then two years later the first global pandemic in one hundred years didn’t help. However, thanks to a very dedicated and hard working team, we did it! The Cottage is finished.
Here are two before photos:
Standing in front of what was going to be the kitchen island looking out at the sea view.
After: The sea view from behind said island. The house was designed to take advantage of the spectacular views. There was a big debate about the ceilings. Yes they are very high (over 19 ft) and the wood was beautiful but I thought staining them a dark color would be a mistake. The only natural light is coming from the bi-fold veranda doors and way on the other end, the windows in the kitchen.
We painted the walls and ceiling a softer white than the external color The color running through the house is blue with touches of yellow, and a coral red.
Almost everything has to be imported due to the island’s size. I had a local carpenter make quite a few pieces. I was asked why not buy the bedside tables, in the Main Bedroom, in the States as it would be easier and probably cheaper. I did it because we already had a full container coming from America and it’s important no matter where you build/renovate to support local businesses and artisans when possible.
I cannot stand it when you’re unable to get a sense of place in a house. I’m a huge fan of the big American stores I sourced from but it’s a good thing, especially for a new build, to mix it up. I don’t like spaces that feel like a showroom. I also sourced from smaller vendors and to the trade.
The Caribbean is mix of cultures and that’s reflexed in The Cottage. I side-eye the fact that one culture is usually missing despite the majority of the people who live in the Caribbean being from that culture.
The dining table was sourced at the French store La Maison in St Martin. The chairs, Amazon USA. A local upholster made the seat cushions. The fabric is from Ghana and was bought at the African Market store in St. Maarten (Dutch side). The vase is Crate & Barrel.
The view looking in from the veranda. Ceiling fans are Minka Aire. Sofa is from La Péninusle in St. Martin. Coffee table is Serena and Lily. Arm chairs IKEA. Custom seat cushions outdoor/indoor fabric Sunbrella from Showroom Tapissier in St. Martin. Side table from Home Kara in St. Martin.
I designed the custom bookcase/desk with our carpenter.
This is the view looking out from the veranda.
The kitchen. The cabinet doors were custom made by our carpenter. The pendants lights had to be a special order from Schoolhouse because of the height. Sconces and hardware are Schoolhouse as well. I decided not to do upper cabinets. This may not be practical for a primary residence but for a vacation house it makes sense. It’s easier to find everything. I feel upper cabinets would look odd with these type of ceilings. They would cut the space in half.
Glassware, tableware, and small appliances are from Crate & Barrel. The larger appliances including the wine refrigerator (it’s in the island), integrated dishwasher, and mircowave are GE and were bought through Sheila Haskins who is the authorised GE vendor on island.
When it came to the countertops, I knew from the very beginning they would be concrete. I like that they were made by hand and the material is perfect for this beach house style. The floors are coral stone tile from the Dominican Republic. Backsplash is Granada Tile also handcrafted.
I wanted this to be a comfortable house where people could relax and enjoy themselves. The tray is from Serena and Lily. The art work was commissioned from a young Anguillian artist, Carmel Gumbs. It’s a black and white oil of Shoal Bay. B&W was a risk but with the incredible views why compete? It’s different. The clients love it. Vase is Crate & Barrel. The morning of the shoot I cut some branches from our sea grape tree.
The main bedroom as the sun starts to set. The bed is Crate and Barrel. The basket is Vendredi in St. Martin. The lamps are from One Kings Lane, and the bed side tables are custom. The sheets in all the bedrooms are Boll & Branch.
Another angle of the bedroom. That view! So glad we went with these type of doors. Great for indoor/outdoor living.
The en-suite bathroom. Sconces are from Shades of Light.
I designed the custom vanities with our carpenter and contractor. We stained the wood instead of painted it. I like having some wood in the bathrooms. Warms things up a bit.
In the original plans there was another closet where the tub currently is. Where the shower is now was supposed to be the tub AND the shower. I did a walk through once the internal walls were up. I suggested we get rid of the closet and place the tub there. It’s a vacation house. It’s not necessary to have two large closets. I think most people would rather have a roomy shower.
Sigh. That shower.
This bedroom also has a sea views and a king size bed. Bed is from Serena and Lily. Lamps One Kings Lane. Bedside tables from La Péninsule in St. Martin. Dresser is from Crate & Barrel.
That sea grape tree has been there for ages. I would like to relax on this veranda. Chaise lounges from One Kings Lane.
The en-suite bathroom. The next bedroom (yellow room) has the same bathroom.
The yellow room. Garden View. Twin beds and dresser are Crate & Barrel. Bedside tables from La Péninsule, St. Martin.
This color was quite controversial. This room gets a LOT of sun and the color changes during the day with the light. It’s called Bermuda Sun. Appropriate.
I’ve just read an article in Architectural Digest regarding how yellow is one of the toughest colors to work with but it’s making a comeback. I stand by my choice! Plus, it’s very pretty at night.
The closets were built by our carpenter.
In the hallway looking into the half-bedroom and the powder room.
The day bed is from Crate & Barrel. Floor lamp Serena and Lily.
The customs/installation drama with this wallpaper was worth every grey hair.
This is technically the front of the house. You walk in and your eye goes immediately to the view.
The cabinets are custom. Bench is Serena and Lily. Black sconces, hooks, and door knobs from Schoolhouse. Chrome sconce is Circa Lighting and these are in all the bedrooms as well. Art work is a print from St. Martin based artist Antoine Chapon.
Bag is from Ghana sourced at the African Market store, St. Maarten.
The very large Dutch Door. I changed it from a regular door so it’s possible to keep the top open for a breeze without worrying about young children, out of eyesight, going outside .
Custom shade is from The Shade Store.
Meads Bay Beach is also famous for its sunsets. Not a bad place to enjoy them. Table, love seat, coffee table, from Le Péninsule and the yellow chairs are from La Maison, both in St. Martin. Tableware and teak candle holders (on the floor) from Crate & Barrel. Table top candle holders from Paloma & Co.
I would love to walk out of the bedroom and sit here with some rosé or rum punch.
No words regarding this view.
Sconces on the veranda are Circa Lighting. Sconces outside the veranda are Shades of Light.
Buona notte/Good night!
The logistics of this project were on the Italian bureaucracy level. One thing I would highly recommend is hiring a local project manager from the very beginning, even if you’re on island. We started working with Gifford Connor mid-way through this project. Once the pandemic hit, and the borders were closed, I wasn’t able to visit the job site even when I was in St. Martin just a 20 minute ferry ride away. It was great to have someone on the ground to keep everything moving forward.
Anguilla is truly a special place. She has managed to retain her soul (so far) despite the increase in tourism. The government looked at what St. Maarten did and decided not to go that route. There are no casinos and no big cruise ships. I didn’t appreciate this island when I was a teenager. I thought it was too small and so boring. All my relatives were super strict and nosy. I wished I were back in Jersey at the Willowbrook or Short Hill Malls with my friends. Ha. That all changed once my parents moved back to St. Martin after retiring. I started to spend more time in the Caribbean and realized that all the things that I resented when I was younger, I needed/wanted in my life.
This property belonged to my great-grandmother Priscilla Connor. I don’t know much about her and next time I’m in Anguilla I will try to look up when she was born. Her daughter Martha was born in 1898 (and lived to be almost 101 years old). The high-end luxury tourism boom took off in the ’80s. Now the Four Seasons (formerly the Viceroy) is on one end of the beach and Malliouhana Hotel is on the other end. My grandmother was a widow and yet she refused to sell her land. She turned down every offer. She said it would go to her children. It did and my uncles and aunt agreed with my mom to let “the kids” build The Cottage. Everyone contributed. We’re one of only two or three local families to still own property on this beach. I think of Priscilla often. I wonder what her life was like and what she would think of Anguilla today. This is more than just a beach house to us.
Doors, windows, wood, and indoor shutters sourced from Arawak Hardwoods a local company that also has an office in Florida.
All bathroom fixtures and fittings are from Quality Bath.
Builders: Ernest Fleming and Shawn Romney
Architect: Anderson Home Planners
Project Manager: Gifford Connor, APA – Anguilla Property Services
Photography: KSharp Media
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