By Natasha Were, REAL LIFE Magazine
A sumptuous family residence, Bella Verde is, as its name implies, both beautiful and green.
The elegant Caribbean-style architecture, tranquil setting and muted, natural interiors of Bella Verde add up to a luxurious, yet supremely comfortable, family home. But looks can be deceptive. There is more to Bella Verde than aesthetics: it is also one of the most environmentally-sensitive private residences in the Caribbean.
A LEED Gold certified home and the winner of the Governor’s Award for Sustainability in 2015, Bella Verde was a collaborative venture between GreenTech Cayman and Dart [Real Estate], conceived as a model of sustainable design and construction, and sold as a spec home.
The owners, a family of four, were not specifically looking for an eco-home when they happened upon Bella Verde. They were simply searching for the ideal piece of land on which to build.
“Location was probably the most important thing for us,” they say. “Being on the water was a must, as well as living in a neighbourhood where our children could ride bikes and roam.”
The exclusive gated community at Salt Creek, with its canal front lots and communal playground, ticked all the right boxes; the views from Bella Verde – of calm waterways and emerald mangroves – were perfect, and because development was still in the early stages, the owners were able to reconfigure the layout to suit their lifestyle.
At almost 7,000 square feet, Bella Verde’s proportions are nothing if not generous, yet the design retains an intimate ambience, with an open plan kitchen, living and dining area at the heart of the home, and additional spaces – a playroom, media room, pantry, home office and master bedroom at either end of the ground floor, providing pockets of privacy and quiet when needed. Decorated in warm greys, with pale wood-look floors, the interior colour palette is soft and soothing, a pleasing contrast to the vibrant blues and greens outdoors.
“The outdoors space is fantastic,” they say. “We knew we would spend a lot of time out there, but building out a full kitchen has really elevated our outdoor living experience.”
Both being passionate cooks, the owners designed the kitchens of their dreams: his outdoors, hers indoors. Top quality Thermador appliances were just the beginning inside: custom cabinetry allows a host of appliances to be artfully concealed or embedded for a sleek, clean look, while a vast island – topped with a single slab of Ice Canyon Quartzite and illuminated by oversize Tom Dixon pendant lamps – provides a space to prepare food, eat and entertain. The outdoor kitchen is equally impressive, complete with fridges, a griddle, wok and regular gas burners, and a wide bar counter that doubles as a dining table.
Whilst the cooking and living areas are ideal for entertaining and socialising, in the master bedroom suite the owners enjoy a private sanctuary. From the spacious bedroom they can step out to the pool or a separate terrace; his and hers walk-in wardrobes allow ample space to store extensive collections of accessories, and a bathroom of vast dimensions features a double shower, twin vanities and a free standing bathtub. All these are eclipsed however by the outdoor shower, located in its own private courtyard, where the faux green wall adds a tropical touch.
Behind the tasteful décor, site-specific architecture and cutting edge technology – UV reflective glass, Lutron LED lighting and window shades, ICF blocks, a solar array and more – work to keep energy and water consumption to a minimum. Woven into all of this, are details that put the owners’ personal style stamp on their home: textured bathroom wall tiles, antique glass knobs on dressers and a custom brushed brass stair rail all imbue the home with their own character.
Cool, calm and comprehensively sustainable, the owners were not obliged to compromise on any aspect of their dream home to keep it as green as the developers intended.
“Bella Verde is a great example of how much this industry has developed,” they enthuse. “You would never know walking into our home that it is a LEED home. A great deal of attention was paid to it being green and still gorgeous, and that is what makes this house so special.”
Photos: Heather Holt