We wanted something casual and beachy, open, comfortable and family-friendly,” said the owners of Grapewood, our overall residential winner in the 2019 Bermuda Building & Interior Design Awards. “We shared photos and ideas with Jacob [Hocking, of CTX Design Group] and knew immediately from his first set of drawings that he understood exactly what we were going for. It took time and lots of iterations to finalise the plans but we’re glad we didn’t rush because the end result is really our dream home.”
The owners had worked with CTX on their previous home and made an attempt to mould it into what they were looking for; however the existing conditions proved too restrictive and those plans were eventually abandoned. Before long they found the perfect piece of property in Paget and began the process of designing their dream home.
“One of the first inspirational images they shared with me was an interior shot of a long open hallway with windows on one side and a series of open rooms on the other,” explained CTX owner Jacob Hocking who designed the architectural plans. “This image and concept became the backbone of the house and the rest developed around it. It’s a versatile house—it works well now with young children, but it will also easily adapt to accommodate the needs of family as time goes on. A lot of the flexibility, we found, comes from the way the house developed off the long hallway in the original photo.”
Significant conservation zonings on the nearly one-acre site limited some of the construction work during the build which took nearly 12 months to complete.
Serendipitously, however, the long hallway as a design inspiration perfectly suited the building restrictions they faced, resulting in a clever linear solution that impressed our judges.
“The whole house is intuitive,” said one judge, who appreciated how the hallway connected the interior with the exterior. Another commented: “The finish and furnishings are first class. The crispness of lines are of international quality.” They also noted how well the space was thought out and how the design “speaks to the way people live today.”
The 4,500-square-foot home’s exterior speaks to classic Bermuda vernacular with its varied roof heights, ample fireplaces and gabled ends. “Many of our projects are inspired by the proportions and simplicity of Bermuda’s early architecture,” said Hocking of his design inspiration.
From the circular, brick-lined concrete driveway, a simple portico leads visitors to the main front door—painted a gorgeous shade of turquoise. Inside, an understated foyer looks straight out through generous glass windows to the patio, pool and undulating yard beyond. To the left of the entrance, a simple yet sophisticated staircase leads up to two children’s rooms, each with an en suite bathroom and walk-in closets.
Back down on the main floor, to the left, the hallway leads a not-so formal living room and then on to the exquisite master bedroom suite with his-and-hers closets, a showroom-worthy bath and a generously sized home office.
A right turn after the foyer leads to the dining room and kitchen/den area. This entire area is flooded with light with skylights above and large glass doors which completely open up onto the patio, BBQ and casual dining area outside.
Beyond the kitchen is the mudroom, pantry and garage; and above the garage is every parent’s dream—a playroom that is connected to the house with an interior staircase but far enough that the noise and chaos can be well contained as the children grow.
“First and foremost the living spaces had to be functional for a dynamic young family,” said Lauren Grayston, an interior designer at CTX Design Group. “They wanted the spaces to be open plan but connected so that they everyone has their own space but not isolated from one another.”
As each space connects to the next, the team chose a wide-plank engineered oak flooring with a custom washed finish throughout the home both to keep a cohesive look and to be durable enough for this young family.
“Oak is a hard wood and was chosen for its durability to stand up to little feet racing up and down the hallways,” said Grayston. “The washed finish was selected to create a relaxed backdrop that both grounds the space while retaining a light and airy feel.”
A bright and airy feel permeates the entire interior design for an “overall feeling of serenity,” said the designer of the colour palette they decided upon. “Washed woods, pale grey and creamy natural stone flooring are contrasted with crisp white millwork which creates a relaxed setting that is personalised with fun and special details like the turquoise front doors, a beautiful chandelier and fun overhead hanging lights.”
As the kitchen is the heart of the home, this one has been designed with careful consideration of the family’s needs—and budget. The designer chose standard, non-custom cabinetry that was designed to have the feel of custom millwork without the extensive costs. Naturally the main consideration was the island layout as the central focus of the room, and they added detailed mouldings to give it a high-end look. A custom-built breakfast nook featuring a buttery ceiling finishes the space and was a must-have for the family.
“We’re pleased with how lots of different areas came out but our fave would have to be the kitchen—it’s definitely the centre of everything,” said the owners. “It’s always bright. We love hanging around the big island and the banquette seating area with the buttery roof—that was one of our must-haves and we sit there all the time. It’s also great how accessible it is to the porch and barbecue area.”
The attached playroom is also a favourite area, created to evolve as the family grows and eventually transforming into a great teenagers’ hangout, said Grayston. In fact, the whole house design was planned to grow as the family does.
“The open plan kitchen/den/living and dining that opens onto the BBQ area and dining patio is the perfect place to host any event from grade school pool parties right up to one day their youngest ’s wedding,” she said. “This house was designed to grow up with this young family and build a lifetime of memories.”
While designed to meet the day-to-day needs of this busy, dynamic young family, a fair deal of consideration was also given to their love of entertaining.
“Through the summer months the Sonos sound system can be heard from the open plan living/dining room out onto the pool deck and into the kitchen equipped with top of the line pro-style appliances and a huge island for gathering to the adjacent BBQ area and outdoor dining room with views of the beautiful pool and rolling landscape,” explained Grayston. “And if it’s a rainy night then no problem—guests can settle into the oversized couches in the great room/den with a cozy fire for movie night on the theatre version AV. This house is made for a party!”
In lieu of the traditional stone tile patio, the designers and owners selected a wood deck for both its durability and style. “The wood deck is ipe which, when left to weather in the elements, turns a soft driftwood gray which extends the demure and restful colours used throughout the interior out to the exterior,” said the designer. “The wood was used to provide balance to the stone tile hardscaping used on the dining pavilion and exterior walkways.”
There is also a small sit-off area situated between the master suite and the pool/guest house, along with a shed on the far side of the yard which pre-existed the conservation zoning on the site. CTX restored it and it is now used as a home gym and outdoor storage space.
At the end of the night, the owners can retreat to their new master suite which features magnificently high ceilings crisscrossed by large trusses adding style and structure to the space. The same can be seen in the kitchen/den area. “The trusses are kiln dried pine beams that we ordered and had the contractor cut to size and construct in the traditional truss configuration that you see in the kitchen and master bedroom,” explained Grayston. “We also custom-finish washed them in a multistep process that allows a hint of the wood grain to show through. The trusses not only provide a lot of character to the new build, but they are also structural as they frame out and support the roof.”
Designed to be a spa-like retreat for the clients to “relax and wash away the stresses of very busy careers and family life,” the master bath features his-and-hers vanities, a large freestanding tub accented with a stunning chandelier and a generous shower with multiple showerheads. “The walk-through double shower is both luxurious and practical and framed out beautifully with the soaker tub and chandelier, and that is front and centre as you enter the space,” she added.
Aside from the zoning restrictions and a few unforeseen situations, the designers say the project ran smoothly and was overall a perfect collaboration between client and design firm. “The clients were great to work with and since we had worked together previously we had a good feel for their needs and I think we were able to respond quickly and efficiently,” said Grayston. “That, and with the great support of SJ Construction and the rest of the subcontractors, we successfully tackled all of the issues and what you see is the end result.”
“It takes lots of skilled people to complete a project like this—we had a good team,” added Hocking. “We work with lots of other excellent contractors but we have built a lot of nice homes with Steven Pacheco and Charles Whited [of SJ Construction and SJ Carpentry, respectively] and they consistently execute above client expectations.”
When asked what their favourite areas of the overall design of Grapewood were, each had a different answer. “I like how the kitchen and kids’ loft/garage area works,” said Hocking. “The spaces feel comfortably proportioned on the interior and assemble well as volumes on the exterior.”
Grayston, on the other hand, was passionate about the master suite. “I love the bedroom size, layout, washed wood trusses and the view out to the pool and lush greenery beyond,” she said. “Then in the other direction, his-and-hers master closets which extend into the luxurious master bathroom. We put a lot of thought into the master suite and bathroom layout and how to make it feel special. I love the end result.”
“The owners were fun to work with,” continued Hocking. “They have great taste and were open to ideas on how to stitch everything together to create the beautiful home that it is.”
The owners are clearly thrilled with their new home, too: “Building in Bermuda can be intimidating and while it was certainly stressful at times, the outcome was exactly what we hoped it would be,” they stated. “It’s lovely to come home to everyday!
“We’re super grateful we had the opportunity to create it and for the team that made it all a reality. Jacob worked hard to help us develop our vision and Steven’s meticulous eye for detail made a huge difference in the execution. He was way more than just a contractor—he was a source of great on-site ideas and always a practical problem solver.
“We’d recommend them a million times over.”