MIAMI DESIGNER CREATES SUSTAINABLE ANGUILLA VACATION HOMES IN A MIX OF OLD AND NEW WITH NATURAL FURNITURE THAT IS TOTALLY LIVABLE.
By Linda Marx
When Bruce Engebretson was commissioned to create the interiors for the Goldstein family’s new million dollar residences at the Zemi Beach Resort & Spa on the British Island of Anguilla, he was eager to design something visually rich but not intimidating.
Engebretson, owner of the Asmayda Furniture Group in Miami’s Design District, had grown up all over the Caribbean because his dad was in the hotel business. Accustomed to architecture and design that was either too pretty to touch, or somewhat tacky, he wanted to do something different.
As a fine arts painter turned furniture designer and entrepreneur, and with his interest in sustainable products and Asian flair, Engebretson wanted to strike a balance between interesting and exciting with a touch of elegance.
“Most Caribbean properties have wild extreme designs,” says Engebretson, who has designed the interiors of the Nikki Beach Clubs worldwide, The Mark Hotel in New York and Donald Pliner’s shoe stores. “We wanted these homes to be fun and different visually, where kids can touch if they desire. We wanted the interiors to look great yet be livable.”
The beachfront resort residences developed by Jeffrey Goldstein and his family, along with a resort and spa, are located along 1000 feet of seafront at Shoal Bay East, one of the world’s top ten beaches according to a study completed by Discovery Channel. Anguilla stretches 35 square miles and has 33 beaches, so it is a big vacation spot for island denizens around the globe.
This mixed-use project was conceptualized by Caribbean architects Lane Pettigrew Associates. Referencing the past was the inspiration so Zemi Beach’s look would be in harmony with the natural environment, especially the adjacent Fountain Cavern, a nationally protected cave site and park.
“The stylistic references at Zemi Beach are an innovative blend of modern and clean lines resulting in pleasing form and volumes highlighted with classic Caribbean building details,” says Lane Pettigrew.
The homes have large window and door openings, overhanging roofs, rooms with cross ventilation to take advantage of the sea breezes, high ceilings, roomy balconies and many areas for relaxation to drink in the views. Since Anguilla has great light, both architect and designer took this asset into consideration when working their magic.
“The rooms are open and clear, and the light can be blinding,” says Engebretson. “But the colors are true. Simple neutrals don’t get old.”
Engebretson and his team designed the two and three bedroom residences, priced from $2 million to $3.1 million, using wood and natural products with stone floors in the newer units. Each home has a custom-designed kitchen with GE Profile appliances, customized Italian made Veneta Cucine cabinetry and granite counter tops.
Bathrooms delight with Travertine floors, coral stone-weaved walls, Kohler water closets, solid wood outdoor showers, wood vanities with rose gold marble and amazing six-foot Duravit Philippe Starck bath tubs for romantic soaking.
The living room and dining room are combined into one big space with Travertine flooring. Furniture is covered with Sunbrella (TM) fabrics because they don’t bleach in the sun. The indoor-outdoor fabric can be cleaned and does not hold stains. “We used nothing synthetic in our designs,” says Engebretson, who travels around the world seeking his materials. “We like natural fibers.”
The living room coffee table is made of cinnamon wood from a small cinnamon tree in Asia. Custom furniture pieces are made of heavy wood and not damageable. The designer likes to use lots of Suar wood finished with a high gloss which is farmed in Indonesia. And he also finds his teak there.
In fact, beds in the master and second bedroom are made of reclaimed teak. Artisans rubbed gray lacquer material into depressions to give the look of worn, with mother of pearl inlay headboards. Gorgeous white linens on the beds are from Italian maker Frette boosting thread counts of 1200-1800, as sleeping is a sport to be mastered on this sensual island.
Zemi Beach residences are a sustainable project featuring random motion and heat sensors. Roofs are built with Enviroshake tiles for water collection that will be filtered under each building and reused. Heat packs have the capability of heating up to six gallons of water per minute within the homes. The property also utilizes amber, low-level gas propane torches for beach lighting, and solar lighting around the landscaped areas.
There are shatterproof glass windows throughout the residences which were made to comply with the Miami-Dade County standards to withstand hurricane winds up to 150 miles per hour (Category 5). Plus, the property offers generators which can provide up to six days back-up power in a tropical or seasonal emergency.
Engebretson is proud of the look and quality of these new island homes. He and Goldstein believe a combination of sustainability, quality, comfort and fine design is all anyone would ask for when looking for a vacation home.
“We made a design statement for people who buy here,” says the designer. “People living inside will be really comfortable.”
That’s what it’s all about.