Nestled away but with breathtaking views across the waters of Ferry Reach is an architectural gem of a summer hideaway. Bluebird Cottage is versatile, modern, unique, but still in keeping with the traditional Bermudian design features we know and love. Lead designer at CTX Design Group, Jacob Hocking, has created a summer cottage, guest house, holiday rental and somewhere for adult children to escape to—all in one.
The property was previously an empty lot leading down to an inviting wooden dock, but the owners, who live further up on the hill and have children living overseas, wanted a cottage they could use to enjoy their water access but one that was versatile and, crucially, delivered on a budget. “They really wanted to be able to hang out around their dock, so act like a summer home, but have the capabilities to work as a rental unit or a guest suite or for the kids when they come,” explains Hocking.
The result is a light, bright, open, spacious, one-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-storey property that naturally flows out through glass-fronted doors onto a paved backyard, across the grass and down to the water. Light and space is enhanced by having the upstairs bedroom on an open mezzanine floor with see-through safety panels, high triangular ceilings and a light, open staircase. To maximise the view, as well as the natural light, the water-facing side is top-to-bottom glass windows and doors.
From that angle, however, the sunlight into the house can get very bright, especially in the late afternoon. Electric wired, button-operated blinds work well for part of the window, but providing shade for the triangular section was a more difficult proposition. Hocking, who enjoys working with wood, found the solution in horizontal wooden louvres. “The triangular blinds are difficult to work with, but we recognise that with a lot of solar gained through the top, we use those louvres. In the late afternoon, when the sun comes through, that creates quite a bit of shade and then the blinds in those square areas work better and also cast some interesting shadows in the inside,” he explains.
The way Hocking maximised the space in what is a small-sized lot particularly resonated with the judges. The total footprint is around 840 square feet, but when you are inside, it feels much larger. In addition to the mezzanine-style upper floor and high ceilings, the fact there is so much white adds to the spacious feeling, and what isn’t white, such as the flooring, stairs and bannister, is still very light.
Even though the house is versatile, it has everything you need for comfortable modern living and entertaining. The open-plan kitchen and living room are laid out in a way that doesn’t interrupt the view when you walk in the front door. The kitchen, which was designed by Salt, is an open “galley style” with the oven, fridge, shelving and cupboards all lined up behind the staircase, and the kitchen island is aligned with the sofa, creating an easy walkway all the way through with lots of areas to relax in. On the north side of the house are the spacious bathrooms. One on the ground floor and one on the top floor. Walk-through wardrobe space has been cleverly built in, between the bedroom and upstairs bathroom.
Looking back at the house from the airport side of Ferry Reach, Bluebird Cottage has a contemporary face with the more traditionally shaped remainder of the building, and this is particularly apparent at night when the lights are on inside. “It has that modern look to the front of it with all the glass and the wood, but from the sides it’s a more traditional-looking building,” says Hocking, and this theme seems to be catching on around the island. “During construction and even to this day we must get a call a week about it,” he adds.
On the outside, attractive traditional elements include narrow buttresses, a buttery-style roof at the back, a small but welcoming front porch and bright turquoise shutters, which are striking against the cream-painted walls. The paved backyard area is ideal for outdoor entertainment or enjoying the exceptional view. The inside is modern, clean and crisp. Traditional-looking ceiling beams have been painted white, and another interesting and traditional feature is the large porthole window at the top of the staircase.
Bluebird is a “great, cute little cottage,” say The Bermudian’s panel of judges who particularly enjoyed the “innovative one-bedroom with the loft.” They also praised CTX for the way they fulfilled the owners’ brief and agreed that it was a particularly “special” design for the amount of space available. “Impressed” was a word that kept cropping up!