Fri | Feb 21, 2020

Dream House | The three shall become one

Published:Sunday | March 17, 2019 | 12:06 AM
Poolside with distinct gazebo
The house as it is today, after another transformation.
Landscape design competing for your visual appreciation.
Front verandah providing relaxation.
The house after one of its earlier transformations.

Three separate families, unknown to each other. Three separate periods in time. Three separate architectural design briefs ... and one house at the centre of it all. Yes, my friends, there it sits in Trafalgar Park, St Andrew.

A house that has undergone as much major reshaping and cosmetic facelifting as the number of times it has changed owners. The first was an Air Jamaica pilot. The second, a partner in a leading auditing/accounting firm; and the third and present, a doctor and his wife, who is a registered nurse.

They have lived here for the last five years. I was afforded the opportunity to be both designer and builder for the second and third owners, thus allowing me to be an intimate witness to its transformations.

It is a homely, three-bedroom, three-bathroom, single-storey residence, with all bedrooms facing the swimming pool outside. There are both music and formal sitting room areas. The kitchen opens to an elevated, wooden pool deck, via pass-thru (serving) window/counter. An indoor bar area serves your favourite liquor. The front verandah provides relaxation; and a striking, arched portico (porch), clad entirely in intricate cut-stone, stands guard at the entrance.

A double-car garage is secured, with automated doors. The shingle roof has been recovered with decramastic stone-coated metal tiles; terrazzo tiles swapped for ceramic; and the concrete driveway replaced with pronounced, multicoloured, interlocking bricks over the years.

Outside shines with its poolside bar, distinct gazebo and the kids’ tree house (with turtle pond immediately below) – just constructed – a fairy-tale structure in the sky, amid swaying branches, nurturing and encouraging adventure and exploration. But the architecture is not the only thing competing for your visual appreciation. The garden is, too! One is unsure if you should go inside and be seduced, or just stay outside and be enthralled by it all! Be not surprised by your conflicting emotions.

Landscape design can and does create a sense of euphoria, and the good doctor has fashioned an enviable outdoor space, achieved with colour, form, texture, scent, proportion, focal points, transition and repetition. The features include meandering defining rocks, coi pond, Japanese lanterns, water fountain and white stones – interwoven with cypress, frangipani, bottle palms, Texas sage, periwinkles, crown of thorns, wooden benches, etc. The owners are extremely comfortable and happy with their dream house, including the centrality of the location. What more could they ask for.

“I don’t divide architecture, landscape and gardening. To me they are one.” (Luis Barragan, 1902 – 1988 – influential Mexican architect, awarded the highest architectural award, The Pritzker Prize, and whose home and studio has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.)

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