The height of hospitality, extravagant and expertly designed, Nautilus is part-home, part-hotel

By CTX Design Group

Sitting on the highest point of the Azura property is the jewel in the crown of this boutique hotel residence—Nautilus House.

Even before you walk up the stylish, curved steps to the entrance, you are met by the panoramic views of the south shore, and it is these turquoise waters and the sandy beach below that are the inspiration behind the interior and exterior design of this exceptional property.

Before being placed in the expert hands of the architects and interior designers at CTX Design Group—Jacob Hocking, Lauren Grayston and Tiara Ming—this three-bedroom house began its life in the 1930s and was extended in the 1980s. What had been “very pigeon-holed,” “dark” and “awkward,” according to Hocking, was completely opened up to the view with renovations and additions, such as higher ceilings and a new entryway, which made it brighter and more spacious. The property is designated to function as part of the hotel, so the team had to allow for the fact that two of the bedrooms would need to be separately accessed from the outside so they could be rented out as hotel rooms while still blending in with the rest of the house as required.

The kitchen and dining room are separated by a transparent wine wall which displays the homeowner’s private collection of wines from around the world.

As you walk through the front door, you are, unfortunately, too busy admiring the breath-taking water view ahead of you and the “wine wall” to your right to look up and take in the high, steep buttery roof, which has a long, statement pendant light hanging down from it. Just one of the many artistic light fixtures that adorn the different ceilings and walls. What doesn’t adorn the ceilings or walls, however, are air-conditioning units, as the AC system is all sleekly hidden away.

The kitchen includes oak flooring, marble countertops, antique light fixtures and floating shelves.

On the other side of the transparent wine wall is the kitchen and as you walk in, it’s worth just stopping and taking it all in. The views, the colours, the light, the style, the personality. “We reconfigured everything so now you have this big open plan, with a great area to sit and entertain and lots of fun details within the cabinets,” explains Grayston.

The cabinets were custom-made by Cristiana Cabinetry and include built-in dividers as well as an integrated bin and appliances and brass hardware from Emtek. Floating shelves provide an area for decorative items away from the countertops, and a butler’s pantry in one corner extends the storage. Every aspect of the kitchen has been carefully curated and well thought out—the antique light fixtures above the island, the custom hood above the Wolf range, the oak flooring, which adds to the coastal feel, and the solid marble countertops. “All the countertops are marble, not your standard quartz, which most people pick for ease of maintenance,” continues Grayston. “The owner just went for it and it really makes a difference.”

Hidden away behind the kitchen is a powder room, which again is a work of art and boasts a mother of pearl wash basin that resembles a large shell and custom-designed wallpaper in the same coastal colours as the kitchen. No matter where you turn in the kitchen and living area, you can see the ocean, and the windows were designed to be as large as possible to maximise this impact. Three counter-to-ceiling windows above the sink mean the washing up will never be a chore, and floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room very much bring the outside in. The effect is maintained as you walk through the house, with long floor-to-ceiling sliding doors leading out onto a very large porch, more floor-to-ceiling windows in the main bedroom and a huge, square-framed window in front of the soaking tub in the main bathroom.

The outdoor area was renovated and redesigned to connect the home’s two elevations. Transparent panels in the place of railings help to maximise the views.

The extensive outdoor seating and dining area was renovated and redesigned to be opened up and connect the two elevations. Perfect for a large cocktail party, noisy dinner party, or cosy, comfortable drinks with friends and family, there are seating arrangements for all occasions, and transparent panels in the place of railings maximise the view. If you can tear yourself away from the view on the south side of the house, there is a private spa garden with its own plunge pool hidden away on the opposite side.

While Nautilus House is part of Azura, the owner was able to put her personal mark on the property and she very much wanted to make it stand out: “The owner was really integral in every decision so it’s a little different,” says Grayston. “The personality comes out in the colour and all of the detailing.” It also has a more traditional feel than the rest of Azura, which is a bit more contemporary but, points out Hocking, “it meets the same standard. It’s warm, it’s beachy, it feels like Azura, but it has the personal taste of the client.”

In addition to a coastal theme and “Bermuda blues,” the owner, continues Grayston, wanted “to keep a very simple design, even though there’s a lot of interest in the furnishings.” The furnishings include light features reminiscent of sea urchins on the wall outside the main bedroom. These had once been part of a lamp which the owner found in a US thrift shop. “We figured out how to make it like a feature as you walk up the stairs,” says Grayston. The owner hadn’t wanted to be able to see the door to the bedroom as you walk up, so instead these draw you up into the space. Nautilus House is full of clever design details such as this, all of which have a natural or coastal feel to them. Traditional sun hats are artfully hung on one of the walls; a rustic wooden console table holds lamps with a shell-like appearance; there are brown and beige natural-looking rugs throughout, and huge wooden ceiling beams in the more formal living and dining room. A contemporary take on a large medieval-style chandelier hangs down from the ceiling in this room which is in keeping with the bronze and glass doors used on the north side of the house which, says Grayston, “have that authentic black finish.”

The attention to detail is phenomenal. The original plan was to have two rugs in the owner’s bedroom, but that idea was abandoned as it didn’t match the ceiling lines above. There is now one large one instead. The television is so well disguised you have to know it is there to see it. The main bathroom doesn’t have anything as mundane as a built-in faucet for the bathtub. It has a standing faucet that almost resembles a piece of furniture in its own right, and “floating” light blue vanities, a large walk-in shower, big squared tiles and a wooden towel ladder give it a serene, spa-like feel. Like washing up in the kitchen, laundry is also not a chore when you get to do it in the laundry room at Nautilus House. “The client wanted it to be a cheerful space, not a dungeon,” laughs Ming, who created this bright, but functional space with coastal-themed tiling, custom cabinets, floating shelves and bright Bermuda-themed prints.

Aside from COVID-related supply-chain issues, one of the biggest challenges was creating a spacious, easy flowing space across what is an uneven floor plan. “There are quite a few different level changes and there were some very strange ceilings connecting through from [the higher] to the lower height,” explains Grayston. “That’s where we took off the roof at the entry, and everything was pushed up to try and give you that more voluminous feel.”

Nautilus House “is fantastic from the second you walk up the steps,” say our judges. “The buttery, the fantastic views, the wine wall and how everything ties in so well. Each room has its own vibe but maintains a standard in terms of aesthetic and character.” They also agree that “every square foot was intentional” and that it “looks more like a residence than a high-end hotel.” They love how “dynamic” the dining room in the central area is and how integral the “really cool” wine wall was to the construction, adding that the property was “connected laterally and vertically.”

There was also incredible attention to detail from a structural perspective. One judge particularly appreciated the fact that all the tray ceilings were rounded, and they agree that the “space definition by way of level change” was brilliantly done.