With an open plan and light filled design catlins new offices are a thoroughly modern work environment.

By Cooper Gardner

The design brief sounded simple enough: “Design a contemporary home which reflects the characteristics of a traditional Bermudian home and takes the best advantages of the site’s spectacular location.” However, successfully blending modern with tradition in a 10,000-square-foot family home with awe-inspiring views of the Little Sound was no easy feat for architect Lee Clarke at Cooper Gardner—but it certainly was an enjoyable one.


“We were determined to show that you can stay true to the local vernacular and still have a tremendous amount of fun with interiors,” says Clarke. “Bermudians generally pride themselves in how they look, favouring fashionable and modern styles—why not with the spaces you live in?”

With four en suite bedrooms, three powder rooms, formal living and dining rooms, a study, nanny suite, gym, garage, media room, laundry room, wine cellar, pool house and an informal family space flowing out from the expansive kitchen area, there was a massive amount of space to design.

Using stately Commissioner’s House for inspiration, the designer incorporated exaggerated architraves, decorative mouldings and rich, dark oak wood floors throughout the main living spaces.

“Our Bermudian clients spent much time in London and often found themselves living in Georgian homes that had been refurbished to incorporate contemporary furnishings but still managed to sit comfortably within the original architectural language,” explains Clarke. “We felt that the colonial character of Commissioner’s House was a great example of this style here in Bermuda. The decorative crown mouldings and oversized architraves inspired us to take a cue from this rich architectural heritage piece and imbue the interior of the house with a historic patina.” In contrast, bright white walls, clean lines and modern furnishings incorporate the contemporary living style the clients desired.

The foyer amalgamates the two styles and sets the tone for the rest of the house with its sweeping, sculptural staircase and graceful Bocci pendant lights that seemingly float from the ceiling. “The front entrance hall for any classic house sets the stage for the visitor,” says Clarke. “Our intention was, therefore, to create a sculptural staircase that curls around itself, animating the space and appearing to float. Finding a lighting fixture which was both elegant in appearance and yet complementary to both the foyer and the sculpted flow of the staircase was clearly important and a bit of a challenge. We feel the Bocci with its globes gracefully suspended between tension wires gives it an appearance of floating in space and creates a wonderful sense of lightness.”

The master bedroom, with its Japanese-inspired simplicity and generous proportions, was another highlight for the designer. With the clients requesting ample storage “so there is a place for everything and everything in its place,” Clarke took advantage of the span of the room and created a dynamic wall of storage that flows seamlessly along the room through to the master bath and dressing room.

“The lofty ceiling height and overall length of the unit led us to select a wood with a fine grain to assist in guiding the eye from one space to another,” he explains. “For this reason, we chose two shades of bamboo and installed them horizontally and vertically to animate the large plane and incorporated recesses so as to not overpower the room.”

Out of all the interesting features in this award-worthy house—including seven unique bathrooms and entire walls of stunning onyx tile—what is the designer’s favourite? “It has to be the lighting,” says Clarke. “Through the usage of up-lighting, concealed lighting and directional lighting, we have successfully accentuated the direction and shape of spaces. The glow of the concealed lighting beautifully highlights each of the interior’s textures and pattern of materials.”

For their successful integration of tradition and modernity, style and substance, Cooper Gardner earned a well-deserved honourable mention from the judges who noted the “incredible level of detail,” “functionality” and “efficiency” of this impressive project.

Electrical Contractor, Audio Visual and Cabling Brilliant Solutions; HVAC and Plumbing AirCare; Flooring Decorative Flooring of Bermuda; Millwork Convoy Custom Interiors, Woodfellows and E&G Craftshop Ltd; Furniture Design Within Reach, Poltrona Frau, Moroso, Bestlite, Ligne Roset, B&B Italia, Paila Lenti, Foscarrini and Ralph Pucci; Upholstery Atlantic Upholstery & Interiors; Lighting David Weeks Studio and Luminart Lighting; Tiling Frank Marjuszycz and Aptech.