With a penchant for travel art collecting and fine wine new owners renovate a home on harbour road for their family and their lifestyle.

By Bendell Design

Originally designed in the 1930s by acclaimed Bermudian architect Wil Onions and woefully neglected over the years, Crow Lane House was desperately in need of a major upgrade. The original house catered to live-in staff on the ground floor with the owners’ quarters on the upper floor, an arrangement that did not suit the new owners. They needed a functional family home more appropriate for their lifestyle, which includes extensive travelling and entertaining. They turned to Bendell Design to completely renovate and redesign the house.


“Their vision was to have a beautiful, casual house with gorgeous water views that would work well for all types of entertaining as well as accommodate their personal family needs,” says interior designer Sue Bendell. “This was a house built in 1936 that had had minor renovations over the years, but basically the entire home needed to be gutted. All new systems had to be installed, new floors poured and new ceilings installed.”

A redesigned floor plan was the first step in improving the overall flow of the house, starting with the entrance. “The original entrance way was a very small space with an old, tired, unimpressive and dangerous staircase, so there was really no alternative but to push the landing into the main living space and create a more efficient, safe entrance to the home,” explains Bendell. “In order to gain the space required on the second level, we needed to flip the existing entrance to the master suite and the corridor to the guest rooms to the opposite side of the house.”

The new expanded entrance leads up to a formal sitting area on the second floor with Nana Wall doors that open to the extended balcony and the incredible view. To the west is the master-bedroom suite, which features a custom walnut storage unit in the bedroom and a freestanding copper tub in the bath. To the east is a second bedroom and guest room, both with en-suite bathrooms.

On the main floor, guests arrive in the dining room and head west toward the open-plan kitchen and casual lounge area. Off the spacious kitchen area, an almost hidden conservatory acts as a cozy breakfast nook, and a discreet laundry room with access to an elevator facilitates easy deliveries—particularly from caterers. To the east are a den/TV room and an office.

With an air of English-castle charm, the 4,322-square-foot home features solid, extra-wide wooden doors throughout, giving it an overall sense of permanence and solidity. The main entrance door is custom-made by John Barnard Furniture of thick tiger oak with wrought-iron hardware to support the extra height and weight. “The client wanted the door to have an old-castle feel to it and be solid and thick,” says Bendell.

Once inside, the spectacular view of Hamilton Harbour becomes the focal point of Crow Lane House. With the generous use of glass—including Nana Wall doors, glass risers and handrails both inside and on the extended balcony—the nearly uninterrupted view is the first thing visitors experience.

“Pushing the entrance forward with the open cantilevered staircase, adding the Nana Wall doors that fold open on the main and second floors and installing frameless glass rails inside and outside all contributed to opening up and enhancing the view,” explains the designer.

In contrast to the glass-filled main living spaces, a more private basement accessible through the den features a guest suite with its own exterior access for visiting friends and family, as well as the owner’s beloved wine cellar. Avid collectors, they clearly had specific ideas for the designer.

“The client wanted a wine cellar that was reminiscent of a dungeon in an old castle,” says Bendell. “We added a window with a wrought-iron grate to give the old-castle, dungeon feel as you enter the basement from the main floor. We also clad the walls with a hammered-edge, flamed-finish stone tile. We added a speakeasy access with wrought-iron detail to the custom walnut door into the cellar. We concealed all required cooling systems and ducting in the ceiling and added exposed, solid-wood oak beams to the ceiling. The walls were covered in custom wood racking.”

Our judges were highly impressed, calling it “atmospheric” and “brilliant” and commenting on the finish quality, which one stated was “mind-blowing.”

Throughout the interior, neutral colours in flooring, paint and soft furnishings allow the owner’s eclectic art, carpets and furniture to stand out. “The clients desired natural materials—stones and woods—but they also had an eclectic art and rug collection, so it made sense to keep the overall colour palette neutral to create a backdrop for the client’s collection and to create a consistency and flow throughout the house,” explains Bendell.

“Everything about it, from the detailing quality to the use of materials and the general flow of the design of the house, is fantastic,” stated one judge. “The overall ergonomics were 100 percent functional. I would move into that house I love it so much.” While not invited to move in, our judges unanimously chose Crow Lane House as the overall winner in the Residential Division.

Architectural Consultant CTX; General Contractor Trinity Construction; Engineering Consultant Woodbourne Associates; Electrical/HVAC Keen; Crestron System Universal Electric; Painting CB Painting; Flooring Pembroke Tile & Stone, Bermuda Brick Yard, Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring and Eminence Contractors; Woodworking Woodfellows, Downsview Kitchens, Creative Home Engineering (hidden passageways), John Barnard Furniture, Vigilant Woodworks (wine cellar) and The Furniture Shop; Stone/Solid Surfaces Surface Trends and Innovative Surfaces; Fixtures & Plumbing Fixtures BAC; Security Smart Security and A-Z Fi re Protection Ltd.; Elevator Bermuda Elevator Systems; Furniture Commercial Office Environments, Julian Chichester, Bermuda Decorative Hardware and Rosenberry Rooms; Window Treatments Furniture Flair; Audio System M&M International.