In 2012, a group of avid sailors (all members of the same extended family) were seeking a tropical retreat in the British Virgin Islands. The seafarers agreed on Oil Nut Bay—a 300-acre residential development on the eastern tip of “the Fat Virgin,” which is accessible only by boat or helicopter—and purchased a 28,000-square-foot beachfront parcel for its proximity to the development’s yacht club and for the site’s sweeping Caribbean views.
Understandably, the panorama influenced every aspect of the design of this vacation home, which was featured in the January/February issue of Home & Style. Folding mahogany-and-glass doors allow tropical breezes to pass through the facade to the calm, sand-toned color palette that guides the interiors.
“This is a house as much about living outdoors as indoors,” says Douglas A. Kulig, CEO of the Coral Gables, Fla., firm OBM International and the project’s lead architect. “The water and the lushness of the surroundings are so spectacular, we didn’t want to compete,” adds Martin Horner, coprincipal of Soucie Horner, the Chicago-based firm that carried out the interior design.
Completed last February, the seaside estate encompasses three one-story structures totaling 5,300 square feet and lagoon-like grounds with a 1,100-square-foot swimming pool and two tiki-style pavilions. The traditional pitched shake roofs of the main, guest, and service houses are composed of wallaba shingles from Guyana, while cypress beams accent the stucco facades. “The ever-present blue of the ocean and all of this really soft, calm decor inside makes for a serene combination,” says Soucie Horner coprincipal Shea Soucie.
Centuries ago, pirates took refuge in the deep harbors and remote coves of Virgin Gorda, just as present-day sailors do. But for this home’s design team, paradise posed a predicament: Getting all of the materials to the homesite was no easy task. “There is a hardware store and a grocery store, but this area is so remote you can’t drive to any of these places; if you need something, you get on a boat and catch a taxi,” says Horner. “The challenge of an island is everything comes in on a barge.”
In this case aesthetics sometimes trumps practicality. The result is a stylish retreat for dropping anchor.