In what can only be described as an act of architectural and engineering genius, Jacob Hocking, Lead Designer at CTX Design Group, has created a private, luxurious, four storey, family home with sweeping views across Pitt’s Bay, in what, from the road, looks like an unassuming modern take on a Bermuda-style cottage.
Nestled in between the busy road and the bay sits serene Anchorage, owned by Karen and Carter Frith. The original water-saturated limestone cottage was demolished to create a three-bedroom, four-bathroom family home with an apartment, swimming pool and array of creative features.
Being right on the water is one of the main reasons the Friths love the property so much, and indoor-outdoor access as well as taking advantage of the views was a priority during the design process. “We wanted lots of sweeping views of Pitt’s Bay and as much glass and as open as possible on the water side,” says Karen.
With this in mind, there are floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors throughout the main level of the water-facing side of the house, and a central outdoor deck and entertaining area giving easy access to the pool and hot tub from both the family room and kitchen which are situated on either side. The “glass doors all retract so you can get in and out to the barbeque area conveniently,” explains Hocking, adding “You can run and jump straight into the swimming pool.”
The rectangular double infinity pool, which from inside the house looks almost as if it’s flowing into Pitt’s Bay, was designed by the owners, along with the black offset square hot tub which overflows on all sides. “The pool was pretty complicated,” continues Hocking. “There’s two quite different systems on the go here that have to connect into each other.” The programming system, which is operated using a keypad, allows for the pool and hot tub to be heated together or independently. Both combined require four pumps. The complication didn’t start and end with the pool, however.
Along the boundary at the road level is a wall and planters as well as a horizontal wooden feature on top of the wall and for the entrance gates. Made using Spanish cedar, this not only creates privacy but also blocks the wind. Parking areas have been created on either side of the house, both with entrance gates leading down the steps to the front door. On one side, the parking area has direct access to the kitchen and laundry side of the house making it particularly convenient for the family to use.
Karen was adamant that the front door, which is made of Bermuda cedar, not be on the bedroom level of her home and the result is a high-ceilinged, dramatic mid-level entrance foyer from which you can go up to the bedrooms or down to the main living floor, which includes the guest suite. Whichever route you take, you are greeted by the phenomenal view. If guests are arriving for an outdoor party, the glass doors at the bottom of the stairs open out fully so everyone flows naturally out to the porch and pool area.
The Friths have two young children, and the inside of Anchorage is designed for family living and entertaining, and is full of interesting, fun contemporary characteristics. These include a glass-fronted and sided wine room under the stairs, with an insulated wine area behind. In the family room, a projector comes out of the ceiling which, when combined with the blackout blinds, takes “movie night” to a whole new level. At the back of the family room is a bar and off this is a flexible guest area which includes a bedroom and bathroom. When no one is staying it is open and can be used by the family, but large sliding pocket doors can close it off, making it a private en suite bedroom.
In the master bathroom, the tub isn’t filled using any ordinary tap. Instead, it’s filled up from the ceiling. “We couldn’t figure out a good wall location for the tap because I thought any way sitting in the tub, your head was going to hit it,” explains Karen. “Jacob suggested having it out of the ceiling. I thought it would splash a lot, but he said ‘no.’” The way the water comes out is in a spinning motion, hence no splash and there is a faucet on the wall for turning it on and controlling the temperature. The fun doesn’t stop at the tub. There are his and hers showers, which include a steam, a three-zone rain shower, a waterfall shower and a pulsing neck massager. The under-counter lighting in the bathroom has a sensor, meaning it automatically comes on at night.
There are two bedrooms on this third floor. The main bedroom on one end and the children’s room at the other. Not only are these joined by the usual indoor corridor but an outdoor one as well, or as Hocking calls it, a “bridge,” which has a patio area in the middle looking down on the pool and hot tub. At the very top of the house is the study, which has a nautical feel to it. It doubles as a library with lots of book shelves, 300-year-old cedar ceiling beams and teak flooring, along with incredible views.
Once you are through the front door, there is no hint as to how close you are to a busy road. All the living and entertaining areas are designed to draw your eye to the water. Wardrobes, utilities, kitchen pantry and IT closet, for example, are all reserved for the road side of the house. To further protect the house, there’s an empty space the full width of the property. “We left this void as a buffer in case there was any dampness that came from the road into the house,” explains Hocking. “It helps with dampness, noise and structurally, the house isn’t supporting the road because the wall does it independently.”
The whole house is light, bright and open with a modern aesthetic. The rooms are spacious and the ceilings high. By using recessed lights, LED lighting strips, under-stair lighting and air-conditioning slots, the walls and ceilings are uncluttered. The basement, which is below the kitchen and porch, contains all the pump equipment for the pool as well as anything else the family doesn’t want to see on a daily basis. Even the outside walls are sleek, clean and uncluttered. There are a few subtle outdoor wall lights, especially around the porch areas and entrances, but like the inside, the outside steps are also underlit and the wooden porch ceilings contain hidden lights.
The kitchen and living room are open plan and the former, which was designed by Salt, is predominantly white, but with a striking, dark-coloured island above which hang two stylish pendant lights. A large pantry is hidden at the back of the kitchen and houses an energy-efficient heat pump water heater, which releases dry dehumidified air and, laughs Karen, “acts as a natural crisper.” Off to the far side is an office, mudroom, powder room, laundry and storage area and the family entrance to the house.
The judges were amazed by what Hocking and his CTX team achieved in the space available and praised them for their ideas and imagination. They particularly enjoyed the different levels, the “gorgeous finishes,” the glass in the stairs, the balcony on the second level and the fact there was parking on both sides of the house. They also love how the house looks from the water, a view summed up by Carter as “Bermuda cottage from the road and Miami from the water!”
Anchorage has very much been a labour of love for the Friths, who bought the house in 2017. They spent two years planning what they would build and then in August 2019 construction work began. Unfortunately, every single COVID delay that could affect them, did. “Whatever could have gone wrong, happened,” says Hocking. They finally moved in in 2021 and not only was it all worth it, but they have no plans to move out—ever.
“I was conscious of trying to build a house large enough for four of us to live in comfortably, but when the kids move out, for it not to seem like it’s too big and a chore to maintain,” says Carter. “Also, the apartment is designed in such a way that we could knock into the guest bedroom and close off those doors and make the apartment bigger and rent out the rest of the house.” In the meantime, the whole family is enjoying their beautiful new home.
“We love it,” says Karen. “What we love the most are the views of Pitt’s Bay. Having the pool for the family this summer was amazing. The indoor-outdoor access we have. We’re spending most of our time in the kitchen and outside.”