A House on Harrington Sound: CTX builds a dynamic family home in a tight space
When a site is in between the water and a road, on a hill, includes coastal reserve, has close neighbours and yet you want something both private and spectacular, there is only one person to call. Enter Jacob Hocking, owner of CTX Design Group and well-known “celebrity” amongst the staff at the Department of Planning. Together with interior designer Tiara Ming, he has created a unique family home that takes full advantage of all the joys, regardless of the restrictions, that this small plot of land overlooking Harrington Sound has to offer.
“The site is triangular, pretty restrictive, a large area of coastal reserve on the front so there was a narrow slither that we could build in,” explains Hocking. “The house touches the setbacks on either the boundary or the coastal, or any other zonings, at basically every point. It was all we could do to nestle the house into the space.” On this “slither,” Hocking managed to fit a three-bedroom family home with a separate studio apartment, built over two levels to fit the topography, that boasts spectacular views across the water.
On the road side, from which you enter the property, the house has a very traditional feel to it, but on the water side it is much more contemporary with black-framed aluminium windows, casements and awnings. The windows were designed with the local weather in mind because it gets windy in this area. The casements allow the owner to open the windows on one side or the other, depending on the breeze, and the awnings mean you can leave a window open without the risk of rainwater coming into the house. Other contemporary features include the flat verandah roof and the fact that the columns don’t sit at the corners: “The porch is very contemporary,” says Hocking. “It allows us to hide the solar panels that are on the roof, so you can’t see them from any angles.”
The house as a whole has been designed to be as energy efficient as possible, so in addition to the solar panels, everything is insulated and the windows are all double-glazed.
A large, blue glass panelled front door has been designed so you can see all the way through to the view beyond even before you enter the house, and the door leads immediately into the central entertainment area. Everyday access, however, tends to be through the mudroom entrance, also blue to match the front door, and also with a spectacular view across the stairwell to the water beyond.
The mudroom brings you into the more central part of the house where clutter can be stylishly stored. The owners have a young family so, says Hocking, “they wanted a house they could live in but also be able to hide away the kids’ stuff when they have guests over, not have to be cleaning up all the time.” The mudroom also has easy access to all the kitchen storage, including pantry and fridge. This has been designed to keep the countertops in the open-plan part of the kitchen clutter free.
In addition to the open-plan kitchen, dining and living area, the upstairs is also home to the main bedroom suite and a spectacular exercise room. All these “important rooms” have been designed to take advantage of the Harrington Sound views: “We tried to orient everything towards the southeast as opposed to the west,” says Hocking. “The owners are both triathletes so they wanted a space they could have air-conditioned, keep noise down and train on their bikes,” he explains, adding, “Even I would ride a bike looking at that view!” The room is glass-walled with floor-to-ceiling windows for the view. It also has its own climate control system.
The main bedroom suite also has floor-to-ceiling windows in the bedroom and bathroom and a strategically placed soaking tub from which you can relax and enjoy the scene outside. Lots of thought has gone into giving this space a natural, warm, spacious feel, and details include white beams in the higher-than-normal ceiling, space-saving pocket doors for the bathroom and walk-in closet, travertine tile floors in the bathroom, a walk-in rain shower with frameless glass, wooden vanity, wall-mounted glass plant bowls and a statement natural-looking pendant light over the tub. A separate pocket door can close off this whole area if needed and central inducted air conditioning throughout the whole upper floor, as well as fully integrated sound and speakers, add to the sleek, clean finishes.
At the other end of this upper level is the large, open-plan kitchen, dining and living area, with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that completely open up to the large verandah, giving a wonderful indoor-outdoor connection. At the far end, another door leads out to the back and has a separate, but smaller, outdoor seating area, with its own pergola and fireplace, above which is a very tall, statement chimney. There is also a built-in BBQ close by. Back inside, the ceiling has been pushed up high to give a feeling of volume, and wooden beams, all of which are lit, give extra character to this lively space.
The main feature, says Ming, of the kitchen—designed by Salt, part of CTX—“was the cooktop wall. It was important to balance this wall and make sure this side of the house balances with the living room side of the house.” The living room end is balanced with a fireplace, above which sits a stylishly disguised television. The kitchen, continues Ming, has “a classic shaker cabinet, warm grey perimeter and a bold statement island.” The bold blue of the island perfectly matches that of the front door. “We selected materials that harmonised,” she adds. “We mixed in some steel and copper just to tone it down so that not everything’s too matchy.”
The backsplash is a hand-crafted Zellige tile, above which sits a wooden ledge and brass lights which complement the lighting and décor throughout the rest of the room and outside on the verandah, which feels very much part of the house. With a 24- foot opening, created using a steel beam encased in concrete, this 14-foot-deep outdoor entertaining space has ample space for different seating arrangements and entertaining needs. Natural-looking wooden steps lead down from the top part of the garden to the lower part, and there is a door into the bottom floor of the house. They also have water access into the Sound.
Back inside, the top and bottom floors are connected by an impressive, windowed stairwell, which is Hocking’s favourite part of the house, above which hang more statement, natural-looking light fixtures by Secto Design: “They’re a pretty classic European style,” explains Ming. “We couldn’t decide on one colour, so we chose all three and they work well together.” Downstairs are the two children’s bedrooms and bathrooms, which both enjoy beautiful views, as well as the laundry, storage and an area for desks and shelving.
Being close to coastal reserve, the owners have planted out the garden with native and endemic trees and plants which, as well as being attractive on their own, have the added benefit of softening the whole area and providing extra privacy.
A “neat twist on traditional architecture,” agree the judges, who appreciated all the modern design elements. “Jacob keeps it traditional but then pushes the boundaries of traditional,” they say. They were also very impressed with what he managed to achieve in such a tricky space, as well as how he managed to blend the house in with its surroundings, while still giving it a stand-out feel. “I liked the character on the street side versus the back of the house and how that morphed into the neighbourhood,” says one, adding that “there’s no single clean line all the way through on purpose. I like that feel on the shoreline. It creates a beautiful balance.”
The indoor-outdoor connection, they agree, also showcased the clever use of space, particularly the “curtain wall” that folded all the way back. “To be able to push that back and have indoor-outdoor living and exterior entertaining is quintessential Bermuda.”
“It was the best use for that plot and that location. He pushed boundaries structurally without being overwhelming.”