Sun | Jul 12, 2020

Dream House | Filled with nostalgia

Published:Sunday | May 19, 2019 | 12:00 AM
The living room opens completely to outside
The master bedroom with endless views.
An infinity edge pool floats above mountains and valleys
The house built completely of stone. It has a big surprise waiting for you
Glass wall rain shower and vessel sink

Architectural history is always a part, sometimes the most important part, of history itself. Let’s open a window to our past and peek inside a bygone era as we transport ourselves through time and space.

We turn off the main road and journey far into endless, isolated stretches of Jamaica’s heartland, pondering what will eventually greet us on our arrival at this place of discovery. Here it is … a dream house on a 2,000-acre estate, with incredulous views of the Queen of State Valley, from its verdant elevation in the northern foothills of the Cockpit Country.

It was originally a carriage house – an outbuilding of the nearby, stately great house built in 1755 – used to shelter horse-drawn carriages. Well, that came as a surprise. Today, more than 260 years later, the building has been remodelled and converted to a contemporary house, filled with nostalgia and all the memories of its 18th-century, time-honoured past. Its most striking feature is it’s old, cut-stone walls, making up every inch of its interior and exterior. There are brick archways everywhere, and exposed wood beam ceilings. Brick and original stone slab floors downstairs, joined with polished wood on the upstairs level. Come, let’s explore further.

The historic building has six bedrooms, with en suite bathrooms of glass-walled showers and vessel counter sinks. A living room opens completely to the outside, and a lounge area leads to a draped back verandah with views as far as vision will permit. A welcome sight is the 50-foot, infinity pool and deck. A separate poolside dining pavilion has a state-of-the-art kitchen. Mahogany antique furniture graces the interior, mirroring the tastes of European culture at the time. What a cosy and romantic feel – thanks to the soft furnishings (cushions, curtains, furniture coverings) and stone walls. The colour scheme is very light – no strong colours jumping out at you. Quiet and soothing.

There is Wi-Fi, smart TVs, ceiling fans and air conditioning throughout. Here, old-world splendour synthesises with all the modern-day conveniences, making a lasting statement for future generations – to preserve the fragility of our architectural heritage and to be vigilant in safeguarding the reminders of our past.

As we go, I leave you with this true story. A family was arbitrarily chosen to live in a functionally restored 1900 middle-class home in England. Every convenience brought into the home after 1900 was removed! The family had to wear 1900 clothing, cook on an old boiler stove and use only food and products from 1900. How did the family fare in this unusual experiment? They found the house unliveable!

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