To many around the world, Bermuda is already an island paradise. So how do you improve on perfection? You create your own dream island retreat on Greater Oswego Island in St. David’s, that’s how.
Located between Smith’s Sound on the north side and Cocoa Bay on the south side, Greater Oswego Island is just a quick boat trip from the dock near the Black Horse Tavern. This open and airy three-bedroom home with two and a half bathrooms was designed on the uninhabited 3.2-acre island by CTX Limited and constructed by MR Construction and Island Home Development.
“The island is meant to be that dream vacation you fantasise about…a deserted island that is completely luxurious in its amenities,” says interior designer Lauren Grayston. “It is available for short-term rental, and guests have the option of arriving with the house completely stocked with food and drink, and a personal chef, butler and boat captain at their disposal. For fun there is a ping-pong table, jet ski, stand-up paddle board, kayaks, water toys and a ski boat for water skiing, tubing and wakeboarding. The house is also equipped with wireless Internet access, Apple TV and cable.”
Aside from all the mod-cons available, the house is an ultra-relaxing retreat from the daily grind. The open-plan kitchen-living-dining space flows as freely as the breezes wafting through the porch when the folding glass walls are completely opened up on the east side. “The layout was organised so that the space would allow lots of different things to go on but connect them in some way,” says architect Jacob Hocking. “The open floors and glass railings mean that you can be cooking in the kitchen but still involved with people playing table tennis on the lower level or reading on the porch.”
The generous proportions of this 3,000-square-foot house make the space feel grand, and skylights allow sunlight to flood the space with natural light. Soft grey/gold French Pattern limestone floors add to the no-fuss, relaxed feel of the main living areas while dramatic rough-sawn, pitch-pine, open-trussed ceilings warm up the room.
“We designed the truss system to introduce the warmth of wood without overpowering the space in the way that a typical open ceiling rafter configuration would,” says Hocking. “The truss also introduces the form-follows-function theme that is repeated with the steel beam in the stairs, the metal brackets on the railings and the way in which the skylights are integrated into the traditional Bermudian roof forms.”
The designers successfully continued the themes of wood, steel and stone throughout the project, giving the entire space a modern yet completely organic vibe, without being too crunchy. “The idea was to create a modern-day beach-house feel, so it was important that the space was bright, open and airy but also warm and inviting,” says Grayston. “The interior finishes were carefully chosen so that the cool white cabinets and walls and stainless-steel appliances and lighting contrast with the warmth of the rustic reclaimed heart-pine and tumbled-limestone flooring. Natural materials were used throughout to create a relaxed organic space.”
In the kitchen area, the island is a show-stopper. “The slab is the trunk of a giant redwood tree, which we imported and finished with epoxy and paste wax,” explain Hocking and Grayston. “The waney edge was left exposed to form a natural overhang and eating counter. Achieving the finish took many coats of finish and a lot of patience.” High-end stainless-steel appliances like the Electrolux Icon oven and GE Café refrigerator complement the contemporary white Ikea cabinets. A concrete fireplace chimney over the oven cleverly mirrors the fireplace in the living room.
Down the open steel-beam stairs with reclaimed antique heart-pine treads are the bedrooms and play room. The steel beam was used to keep the stairs open and to tie into the stainless-steel elements used in the glass railings, cable railings, cable lights and appliances, explains Hocking.
The master suite features warm heart-pine floors and simple yet comfortable furnishings in the bedroom area while the spa-like master bath, featuring Hakatai recycled-glass mosaic walls, is one of Grayston’s favourite elements of the design.
“Again, keeping things open and airy and inviting was key in the design and finishing of the bathroom,” says Grayston. “The skylights over the tub and shower flood the space with diffused light, which reflects off the grey-green recycled-glass mosaic wall. The main floor is limestone and we chose to go with pebbles on the shower floor to enhance the spa-like feeling. The large open shower and oversized tub both back on to the planter of palms and tropical succulents, creating a serene garden within the space. In the centre of the bathroom are the Wenge double vanity with white vessel sinks and a vanity dressing table. The toilet is housed in a separate alcove off the main space for privacy.”
The whole project started as a dream to create a retreat on a deserted, family-owned island and took approximately five years to finish from concept to completion. Obviously the logistics of getting all the materials and equipment to the island created something of a challenge for all involved. “The logistics of working on an island increased time and cost significantly,” says Hocking. “Access, availability and delivery of goods required careful planning and coordination.”
The time, dedication, energy and love put into the design of Oswego is readily apparent from the moment visitors step on to the dock—a point not missed by our judges. Thus, expertly combining the best of traditional Bermudian forms with modern-living functionality while dealing with the complicated logistics of working on an island has earned CTX a deserved win in the residential category this year.
General Contractor—MR Construction; Mechanical Contractor—C&C Solutions; Electrical Contractor—MP Electric & S. Madeiros Electric; Plumbing Contractor—C&C Solutions; Soft Furnishings—cTx Interiors; Furniture—cTx Interiors; Flooring—Bermuda Brickyard; Millwork—MR Construction & Island Home Development; Paint/Painting—JW Maintenance; Audio Visual—cTx Interiors; Appliances—Joshua Bate Trading; Windows/Doors—PVC Windows and Doors; Lighting—cTx Interiors and ESC Ltd.; Tiling—Island Home Development; Docks and Barge work—Crisson Construction; Landscaping—Pitcher’s Landscaping & C. Mello Landscaping