Mon | Feb 17, 2020

Dream House | Stepping Stones at Greenwich, simply breathtaking

Published:Sunday | March 10, 2019 | 12:06 AM
Informal living room with marble floor
A traditionally furnished bedroom
Timber wrap-around dining/leisure wooden deck, where one is able to enjoy the outdoors
A landscaping sensation capturing views of city, mountain and sea
Formal living room with romantic fireplace.

As we cast our gaze upwards, with a deep sense of wonder and humility, we cannot help but stare at the grandeur and mystery of our Blue Mountains.

There is a relatively unknown area, 4,000 feet above sea level, past Newcastle, where some very successful Jamaicans have homes as their personal, private retreats from the stress and strife of everyday living. It is called Greenwich (one hour from New Kingston), located within the Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park – a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Deryck and Olive Gibson, their daughter, Deborah, and her husband, George Cumming, have kindly opened their rustic, 3,000 square feet home away from home for us to share. Known as Stepping Stones, the heavenly retreat was purchased from an Englishman in 1987. It was in a deplorable, condition … overridden by rodents. It was extensively remodelled, extending eventually to a size of five bedrooms/five bathrooms with formal and informal living rooms.

As an idyllic mountain home, it does not cloak itself in overbearing, materialistic ornamentation – inside or out. It does justice to the environment it finds itself in, by being utterly respectful to nature in all its purity. The traditional, simple architectural and interior design includes wooden and concrete walls; interior wooden wall panelling; mostly wooden floors (some marble); board ceilings, some with mouldings; French-style windows and doors; romantic fireplace in living room, etc. The furnishings are consistent with that of an authentic country cottage. Very comfortable.

Timber wrap-around dining/leisure wooden decks, balconies and terraces accentuate the enjoyable outdoors. The views captured from house and garden include city, mountain and sea scenery. It almost seems unreal! This alone makes the property priceless.

As for the misty gardens, designed to soften the architecture … a landscaping sensation with lilies, hydrangens , anthuriums, coffee, ferns, along with strawberries, peaches, raspberries growing wild.

It is, too, a birdwatcher’s treat, in Jamaica’s prime birdwatching region. Inhale and exhale cool, clean, crisp air. Be adventurous and hike and bike the trails. Then there is the peace and quiet, SHHHHH! Keep it that way.

For those who are now inspired to have a home in the mountains, you may find this piece of information helpful. The recently completed Haungshan Mountain Residential Village in Haungshan National Park, China – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – has as its design philosophy: ‘Where architecture becomes nature and nature dissolves into architecture.’

Barry Rattray is a dream designer and builder. Email:, or