Homage to an Icon – David Benevides masters architectural elegance at Take It Easy
By Benevides Architects

Already an iconic property on the shore of Tucker’s Town Bay, Take it Easy is a particularly poignant renovation. Not only is it a family property, steeped in Bermudian seafaring history, but it was designed by the late David Benevides, himself an icon of Bermuda’s architectural landscape. A close friend of the owner’s father, Benevides had done several plans with him over the years, none of which went ahead until now, when, says the owner, “we found the designs in my Dad’s old files and we chose one that got the closest to what we wanted.”

While all that remains of the original house is a living room fireplace (“Everyone thought I was totally insane when I wanted to keep the original fireplace,” the owner admits) the front of the house looks the same as the old house did. This is because the owner felt it was important to protect the “integrity of this profile” from the bay. Also of importance to the owner is the fact that the house doesn’t look new which, she says, “is amazing,” adding, “That was an important part of using David. He respected the old Bermuda style.”

The brand-new large and bright kitchen at Take It Easy opens out into the living spaces in the home and has views to the garden and bay.

Such style includes wooden beams in nearly all the rooms, a grand staircase, traditional Bermudian-style windows, shutters, roof and chimney, and other prominent wooden features such as the doors, gates and fencing. While considerable improvements have been made, which include a larger, brighter kitchen, opening out into the living spaces, with views through to the garden and bay, much of the floorplan is similar to the original house. Ideal for the spectacular location, the outdoor spaces have also been redesigned to accommodate contemporary indoor-outdoor living as well as the fact that the owners are a family with two young children.

The home’s deep verandah features a large, covered outdoor kitchen and is adjacent to the home’s swimming pool.

In addition to deep verandahs overlooking the water, there is a large, covered outdoor kitchen in front of which is a new swimming pool. Both overlook the beautiful bay. There is also a completely private outdoor shower. “We had a big debate about the [swimming pool],” says the owner. “Did we need it with the bay right there? But it’s so great for the kids to just be able to jump in.” The outdoor kitchen, which she describes as “my husband’s baby,” looks like it was always meant to be there and is a BBQ-lovers dream. In addition to an actual BBQ and grill, it has built-in cabinetry and appliances, integrated speakers and a wood-panelled, pitched ceiling.

One of the homeowner’s favourite rooms in the house is the powder room. Featuring elements from her great-grandfather’s boat, it has a strong nautical theme and smells of cedar.

Take it Easy’s nautical history has also been incorporated into the building design, as well as the fixtures, fittings, décor and even the occasional porthole-style window. One of the owner’s favourite rooms is a tiny powder room, hidden under the stairs which, when you are inside, feels like a ship’s cabin. The light fixtures are lanterns that had been on her great-grandfather’s boat and have been wired in. There is panelling on the ceiling and the walls, and the sink sits on a shelf made from cedar that had been in the original house. “I love the atmosphere,” she says. While not an obviously nautical feature, around the back of house, through a courtyard, and down some stairs, is the owners buried treasure, aka the wine. “I can’t actually let you in because I don’t know the code, but it’s a beautiful wine cellar. My husband purposely keeps me out,” she laughs. There is also a wine fridge in the pantry along with a dedicated and fully stocked bar area in the kitchen. Original cedar has been used again, this time for the bar countertop.

A separate cottage at the water’s edge was once a whaling or boat building cottage. It has been redesigned as a one bedroom cottage complete with a kitchen, bathroom and porch.

There is a separate cottage closer to the water which had been either a whaling or boat-making cottage, depending on which neighbours you speak to. Called Hell’s Kitchen because it was so hot, it was without foundations and in such a bad state of disrepair that it had to be torn down. It has been replaced, however, with a new Hell’s Kitchen that has been better positioned and is now a beautiful one-bedroom cottage with kitchen, bathroom, porch and, in spite of its namesake, air-conditioning.

The main house has three en suite bedrooms upstairs and a separate guest bedroom with a fold-up Murphy bed downstairs. When no one is staying, this room doubles up as a gym. The main bedroom sits exactly where it had in the previous house and large windows and a glass-panelled door allow the owners to wake up to the breathtaking view. Also enjoying beautiful views on this side of the house are the main bathroom and a large office.

Take it Easy is “an homage to traditional old Bermuda. It really pulled at my heartstrings,” says one of our judges, who loved that “there was so much detail built into everything. The house already has a story and I was shocked that it was new.”