A Spectacular Place to Call HomeKris Hedges of Deuce Coop Designs reinterprets traditional Bermuda vernacular at Evans Bay.

Following his return from the US, Kris Hedges has taken the island’s building design world by storm with the creation of his own family home hidden away on the slopes of Evans Bay in Southampton. With Coopers Landing, the designer and founder of Deuce Coop Designs (DCD) has reinterpreted traditional Bermuda vernacular architecture, creating a contemporary home for his young family that still blends into the neighbourhood.

Among the more distinctive features on the outside of the house is the number of different roof lines. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it’s the way Hedges has chosen to address the uneven, rocky and sloping site conditions, and secondly, it’s a nod to how Bermuda homes have traditionally been created, often by additions over time. “Due to socio-economic pressures, a house literally grew as need dictated. Rooms and wings were added over time, producing, at times, an informal and clustered effect,” he explains. “The main design directive that I had when I worked on this project was just breaking down the massing, so each programme has its own roof line that helps to set the house into the site.”

While the roof pitches are very traditional, standout contemporary features include the fact there are no eves on the house and there’s a monochrome look with cement-wash walls, black windows, doors and shutters, black slate tile around the pool, and an unusual, angular-style chimney, which Hedges is particularly pleased with. “The surfaces look like they’re curving, with one axis always a straight line, but the other axis a curve. It has a nice sense of movement,” he says. To offset the monochrome palette of the building, Hedges has kept or planted a lot of greenery. He has used the slope down to the front door to create stepped flower beds and a herb garden. Around the rest of the house, he has kept all the existing natives and plans to increase their number on the waterfront side, creating a “wall of natives” far away, with a more manicured lawn and curated landscape closer to the house and around the pool.

Cooper’s Landing boasts a number of different roof lines, which was an intentional homage to the way typical Bermuda houses evolve over time.

Overall, Coopers Landing has three bedrooms in the main house and a gym that doubles as a guest room, thanks to the ever-practical installation of a Murphy bed. There is also a separate “granny annex,” self-contained but closely connected to the main house that really will be used by Granny! All the bedrooms have spectacular views across the water that can be enjoyed through floor-to-ceiling windows or bifold doors, which open fully and very much bring the outside in. “What I did with the main space is I twisted it, so the master volume on that side and then the kids room set parallel to the setbacks on the boundaries, then, this middle space, I turned it so we’re looking more towards Riddell’s Bay to the east, otherwise my orientation would be more towards Morgan’s Point,” he explains. The main space is also what Hedges calls the “great room,” because not only is it an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area with TV and fireplace, central and essential for everyday life, but it is also the physical centre of the home. You walk into it from the front door and every other aspect of the home leads into and out from this room, including the swimming pool and garden.

Concerned about the lack of natural light towards the back of the house, Hedges opted for an outdoor dining room, complete with a pergola instead of a closed in roof. He surrounded it with bifolding doors and floor-to-ceiling glass, which allows guests to enjoy a view through the great room and out to the pool and water beyond.

A further challenge to the site in addition to the topography was the relative lack of natural light at the back of the house, but again this adversity led to opportunity, and in the case of Coopers Landing, this opportunity was an “outside” dining room, inside. “The orientation is due east so by midday, the sun is beside and behind us,” explains Hedges, who was concerned about getting light through the great room into the “depth” of the house where there is a large library area. Another solution, as well as foregoing a traditional verandah, was to top the dining room with a pergola instead of a roof and surround it with as many bifolding doors and as much floor-to-ceiling glass as was structurally possible. There is one full wall, and in that Hedges installed a pizza oven because, why not?

The physical centre of the home includes the kitchen, living and dining room. Hedges designed it to be the focal point of the house, with every other room leading into and out of it.

As planned, instead of being a dark enclosed room, the dining room bifolds open up and guests can enjoy a view through the great room and out to the pool and water beyond. What wasn’t planned was the fact that the family can now enjoy not only natural light while working or reading in the library but also a great view from that space, too. “When we developed the library, we worried it would be dark and damp, but it turned out nice, with views out to the courtyard and front entry garden and site lines that you don’t appreciate until it’s done,” says Hedges, adding, “There’s a cedar tree on the other side of the kids’ room. You can look from the library, through the courtyard, through the kids’ room to the cedar tree and the ocean beyond.” Should everything get too hot in the height of the summer, another bifold door leads out from the library to a shaded, pergola-topped outdoor seating area.

What Hedges may have eschewed in colour, he makes up for in texture. A travertine sink in the “hidden” powder room is complemented by the taupe-finished plastering on the walls. Linear tiles in the children’s bathroom stand out against the concrete floors, and the horizontal stacked brick for the fireplace gives that area volume as well as added interest.

The fireplace, he adds, is “very wide.” The main reason behind that, he laughs, is because he “lost the battle with having the TV in the main space,” so he needed the width to match the television above. Where he has used colour, it makes an impact. The fun chairs around the table in the living and dining area, from French company Moustache, are a variety of blues, purples, greens and greys, and there are poolside furnishings in purple as well. And when he and his wife open their wardrobe, they are greeted by a bright pink on the inside.

All three of the bedrooms at Cooper’s Landing enjoy the spectacular views of the water that can be viewed through floor-to-ceiling windows or bifold doors.

Also included in the main closet is a crawl space or “secret room for the kids,” with its own little reading bench, bookshelf and step ladder for clambering up. This wasn’t in the original plans, but the space happened to be there and not an inch of space has been wasted.

There are functional innovations like this throughout the house, where ideas came to light due to space or the needs of those who would be using that area. On the way into the children’s bathroom, for example, there is a light switch at child height on the side of the sink as they walk in. In the library, there is an “office” hidden behind what looks like wardrobe doors.

In the master bathroom, Hedges didn’t waste space with a bathtub he would rarely use but still have to clean, or anything as mundane as a shower drain. Instead, at the far end of the long shower is a “Japanese soaking tub.” It is about a foot deeper than a traditional tub, but narrower. All the water from the shower runs into this tub, and there is another floor-to-ceiling window alongside it to look out of while you soak. Instead of a banister leading up to the master bedroom, there is a metal stair screen fabricated by MASS in St. George’s.
Coopers Landing is “so well thought out,” explains one of our judges. “It’s an ode to well done Bermuda design. It’s like poetry.” All the judges particularly respect the way Hedges has adapted Bermudian architectural style and made it contemporary. “He really figured out how to reinterpret Bermuda vernacular architecture.” They also felt he had taken the concept of indoor-outdoor living to the next level with the outside dining room and the way the great room not just flowed out to the swimming pool and garden but was almost integrated into it.

Another aspect of the build that resonated strongly, was the fact that it had been built so intricately for, and around, his family: “The house itself will patina, but the family will patina emotionally,” adds a judge. “The aggregation of parts is his family, as his family grows and changes.”