Greener Pastures

<< Back to Robb Report, Robb Report Home & Style November/December 2014

This is what luxury looks like in rural southwestern Bali: Instead of setting the main villa and its two guesthouses in serene isolation across almost 3 acres of land, the design team nestled the dwellings of the Kaba Kaba estate together, to allow the green lawns to unfurl gloriously in all directions. “It goes on and on forever; it’s a completely uninterrupted view,” says Lesley Campbell, of the Bali-based interior design firm HC2. “I don’t think there’s anything like it in Bali.” Popo Danes, the Balinese architect who designed the recently completed property, concurs. “It’s a huge site for Bali for one private villa,” he says, noting that normally 40 homes would be planned for a parcel this size. Created as a retreat for a couple and their children, Kaba Kaba leases through Elite Havens when the homeowners are not in residence.

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Breathing Space

The living room in the main house provides a visual respite, says Campbell. “As you walk around the house, there’s so much color going on. It can be overwhelming.” The more sedate neutrals here deliver, in Campbell’s words, “a moment to breathe.” Traditional antiques, such as the trio of Burmese sculptures, harmonize with the custom light fixture of copper-colored wood, carved in a Balinese motif, that decorates the ceiling. The compound’s entrance is built around a magnificent set of century-old Chinese doors that the owners acquired from a gallery in Singapore more than five years ago. Flanked by a multicolored pair of Chinese lion sculptures, the doors open onto a foyer-like space that leads to a courtyard presided over by a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh. Sharing the space with traditional elements—the doors; Paul Turner’s custom brass ceiling lamp rendered in a Balinese floral motif; he lotus flower inlaid in the marble floor—is Three Ages, a 2013 sculpture of a stout cow by the Indonesian artist Agapetus Kristiandana. “That’s one of the things we tried to do throughout the interior,” says Campbell. “When we had something very traditional, we wanted to juxtapose it with a modern art piece to create visual tension. It leads you into the house and creates a tone, with the modern art piece sitting side by side with gorgeous antiques.”

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Suite Emotion

Among the favorite spaces of Kaba Kaba’s co-owner (the wife) is the master bedroom. A pool is just steps away from the sleeping quarters, where the dominant feature is a four-poster Javanese teak bed draped in linen. In fact, all of the estate’s bedrooms for adults have charming four-posters (the children have bunk beds). “The world is becoming a homogenized place,” says Campbell. “The romance of Bali is sometimes lost in modern architecture and interiors. We want you to know you are very much in Bali.” The thatched roof, a Balinese tradition with more than six centuries of history behind it, further heightens the effect.

Art is built into the bones of every room. Even the master bathroom has niches for the owners’ antiques, and the suite’s study is lined with shelves of hardwood veneer and features a custom daybed inspired by the first map of Bali, drawn circa 1598. “We have to give it a sense of place, but we don’t want it to be a museum or a gallery. It has to be a family home,” says Campbell. “I’m really thrilled that a lot of people walk into the villa and go [tell the owners], ‘Oh my God, it feels like you.’ It’s about creating a family home for them.”

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Art and Soul

For more than 20 years, the owners of Kaba Kaba have been avid art collectors, and they intended the villa to serve as a showcase for their beloved treasures, which range from ancient antiques to contemporary works of art. “Our taste is very eclectic,” says the wife. “There’s a real mix of everything.”

Pieces on display at the estate include Cai Zhi Song’s Ode to Motherland #5, a striking 2013 bronze of a male figure, inspired by an ancient image of a Qin dynasty warrior, that graces the roof terrace; Sohan Jakhar’s Untitled (2009), which hangs above the headboard of a guest bed; Hannes D’Haese’s sculpture Just a Dog, a pink resin bulldog that, along with its yellow counterpart, guards the entrance to the one-story guesthouse; a surprisingly recent (three decades old) 8-foot-long Indonesian carving of paddlers in a boat, displayed above a puckish Dodit Artawan oil on canvas depicting Barbie dolls and liquor bottles; Dadi Setiyadi’s White Goat, a 2011 canvas that reimagines Caravaggio’s John the Baptist as a loincloth-clad figure festooned with swirling Dayak tattoos; and Ye Zheng-hua’s exuberant painting The Sky, with its frolicking figures drenched in bold hues of azure, magenta, and cream against a backdrop of buttery yellow and cornflower blue.

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A Delicate Balance

In Kaba Kaba’s single-story guesthouse, a louvered pocket door separates this bedroom from the adjoining bathroom. Placing Sohan Jakhar’s Untitled (2009), an acrylic endowed with lush green hues, above the bed was the response to an earlier aesthetic choice: the carved teak wall panels with a rich green patina. These wall panels reference carved versions found in Balinese homes—ones that have acquired their patinas over time. The examples in this bedroom gained theirs more quickly through paint.

“A home in Bali must be different than a luxurious home in other places,” says architect Danes, expounding on the balancing act that the project entailed. “We have [the owners] in their own private home, private space, but at the same time, they’re in Bali. We give them the good things about Bali, the ambience and the space, as well as the comfort they need.”

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Keeping It Straight

The Balinese aesthetic favors straight lines and sharp angles over curves, and the team behind Kaba Kaba embraced it wholeheartedly. No kidney-shaped pools here; the rectangular pool outside the main living room, one of four pools on the grounds, directs the eye to the native trees and the rolling lawns with the intensity of an arrow in flight. The two-story guesthouse, which contains three bedrooms, is decorated in colonial style, with Dutch- and Indian-inflected antiques contrasted with Hwang Sae Jin’s Actual Harmony, a 2011 canvas that unites acrylics, oils, and fabric in an alluring but homey image of a couch. Fun touches, such as the bench upholstered in a zebra print, add whimsy to the overall atmosphere. “The house feels very richly layered, but not cluttered,” says Campbell. “It was about loving the richness of the collection but also having a bit of restraint with it as well.”

HC2, +62.361.742.9991, www.hc2.co; Popo Danes, +62.361.242.659, www.popodanes.com

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 Staying at Kaba Kaba

SETTING: An eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom estate on almost 3 acres in the rural southwest of the Indonesian island of Bali. In addition to four swimming pools, a spa, a gym, a game room, a home theater, a tennis court, a rooftop terrace, and a lawn that can seat at least 180 for dinner, it features an exceptional collection of art and antiques that enlivens the entire property.

SLEEPING: Kaba Kaba’s living quarters consist of three structures: the three-bedroom main house; a two-story, three-bedroom guesthouse; and a single-story guesthouse with two bedrooms. In all, Kaba Kaba can sleep 14 adults and four children.

STAFF: A professional staff of 24, including a villa manager, a private chef, butlers, housekeepers, gardeners, a maintenance team, and security guards.

RATES: From $3,500 to $5,000 nightly for the full property, depending on the season.

CONTACT: Elite Havens, +62.361.737.498, www.elitehavens.com

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