Travelling through an unassuming narrow dirt road lined with mature palm trees, I turned into the driveway of architect Tripp West’s personal home. After years of watching his amazing architectural designs come to life in our annual Building Design Awards I was thrilled with the opportunity to view the talented designer’s space. It was even more—or rather less?—than I expected. 


While I wasn’t exactly expecting a mansion for the 43-year-old bachelor, the charming cottage I had driven up to was decidedly smaller than I had anticipated. But I was soon to find out that is exactly the initial impression he intended from the start. “My focus of design is make it look less significant on the exterior and have the surprise be on the interior,” said West. “You can’t make Bermuda houses super massive, the scale isn’t right. It’s not always about the square footage, it’s about the volume.”


While the cottage was set in a lovely garden and had great exterior bones, West set about reorganising the interiors, tearing down the walls and expanding the spaces within. In the living room and bedroom the architect took out the ceiling adding masses of height by allowing the exposed beams to show, painted it all white and created a signature “Westport Architecture ceiling.”


“This room is only 16 feet by 20 feet but it feels a lot bigger with the ceiling like this,” says West, of the living room. “That is our signature style. It looks like a small, little cottage on the outside and when you come in you’re like, ‘I didn’t expect that it feels as big as it is.’” 


The one-bedroom cottage is perfectly suitable for West who has two main passions in life (other than architecture, of course)—entertaining friends and travelling. And this is the perfect house for both. 


The living room opens to a spacious, modern kitchen which the architect admits was designed more for crafting cocktails than cooking Sunday dinner. “The kitchen is not impressive but it is a bachelor’s kitchen,” he says, laughing. “I don’t cook much but you can get a great drink here!”


With his keen sense of style, the décor has all been brought together by West himself over the years. “I’m really careful when I choose a permanent fixture like kitchens, bathrooms and flooring,” says West. “I don’t want it to be super trendy as it will date quickly. In this house I think I can get away with some modern chairs and things like that, but this cottage should be timeless. It’s an understated Bermuda cottage.”


Bringing the classic style together with some modern flair, the architect kept the overall palette white with subtle accents of earth tones. “I’m in a garden cottage so I’m going to use browns, greens, whites and bricks on the interiors because those are more appropriate colours for these surroundings,” he says. “I’m not going to do a lot of blues and whites and turquoise colours on the inside because I don’t see the water.”


Tripp admits he doesn’t spend much on furnishings as they are not his top priority. “I put more thought into the artwork,” he says, as I notice a Damien Hirst signed print above the fireplace. “I was on the dot bandwagon about four or five years ago when it was super popular.


“It works with my African and Asian artifacts,” he continued as he mused over his love for travel and collecting beautiful pieces along the way. “Those to me are more important than spending a crazy amount of money on a sofa.” He laughs as he tells me the one I was sitting on was just from (something) dot com.


“I entertain a lot here,” he adds. “It has become known as a bit of a late-night place.” He gestures to the wall with a flat-screen TV mounted over a piano—“this turns into a whole karaoke thing with me playing the piano with the lyrics on the screen.”


When he reorganised the layout of the house, the former living room became the bedroom and West decided to add on an en suite bathroom and closet/laundry room. The only other addition was a 12-foot-wide veranda—which has since become his favourite space. “This is the best room in the house,” Tripp says, wandering onto the porch. “It is totally utilised all the time. I can even entertain out here in a downpour.” 


West admits the gardens are “not very architectural in design” but rather “wild and whimsical.” With its weathered organic wood walkway and mature coconut trees, the garden entrance is both interesting and welcoming. “It has been my passion spending more time outside creating a garden,” he adds. “The garden is a big part of the house for me. I didn’t do much colour, but it’s more about the greenery which then reflects on the inside of the house.”


The balance of sophistication and style, combined with tailoring the space to his exacting needs and primary passions, makes this garden cottage perfect for West. “It’s a good house… a happy house. It is small and not flashy but it is perfect for me.”


 {gallery}Tripp West Home{/gallery}



Tripp West’s passion for travel has recently led the architect on a new business venture. As he turned 40 a few years ago he began to wonder what was next for him. “I love design and architecture… but what is the next level?” he wondered. “What do I have to offer? Well, I have a lot of travel experience and I want to share that experience.” 


Using the ever-growing concept of a sharing community online (“people share their houses (Airbnb), people share their cars (Uber), their social life (Facebook)—it is a huge growing economy,” he says), West set out to create a website where people can share and plan travel experiences like none other. 


“I’ve created this inspirational platform called Trippmatch,” he explains. “It takes information from the travellers who come on board and creates a profile. This gives the site information about what they like and don’t like about travel, where they want to go, where they have been before, what kind of budget they spend or how often they go.”


The site literally matches you to destinations and experiences that fit your style of travel and can even match you to others who share your preferences. “If you are not a surfer and a bungee-jumping, kind of crazy adventure seeker then you aren’t going to be matched to those experiences. If you love museums, boutique hotels and café restaurants and you want to be spending times in cities looking at architecture then you will be matched to those kinds of experiences.”


Travellers can also match up with others to get reviews and recommendations for places they have already been or even connect and plan a trip together if they desire. For example, how many times have you been asked ‘what is the best restaurant in Barcelona? What should I do when I get there?’ Trippmatch users will have the answers for your. 


“Our motto is Explore. Together. But you don’t have to connect with others unless you want to,” West says. “You can share as much or as little as you want. We see it as a virtual inspiration board for planning your next travel experience and it will be completely tailored to you.” 

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