Mon | Mar 30, 2020

Dream House | Old-world charm meets ... modern conveniences

Published:Sunday | March 15, 2020 | 12:05 AM
A Hollywood movie set designer was hired to remodel this house!
Breakfast will soon be served. Care to join?
A bedroom that encourages quality sleep once your head hits that pillow.
A tastefully appointed living room, inviting the outside in.
The swimming pool with a pool house in the background, complete with fireplace, kitchen, and bar.
When they visit, family and friends can stay in this private cottage on the property.

He was born in Christiana, Manchester, and left Jamaica at the tender age of 11. In the fullness of time, he toiled incessantly, moving up the proverbial ladder, thereafter reaching the pinnacle of his career – vice-president and officer of a multinational conglomerate, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. Let’s pay him a visit.

Up the slope we climb, with its multitudinous twists and turns, as we drive through rural communities on an odyssey of innermost fulfilment.

For the destination that exceeds our expectations, the journey stops here! A discrete hilltop estate, isolated in its own world, not seen from the road and ensconced from inquisitive eyes.

This is not adventurous, ultra-modern architecture with its thrilling appeal but rather time-honoured, inspired design that reflects what so many are seeking, a return to traditional values in home design, a wish and a hope to be enclosed and secured by the warmth and comfort of familiar spaces ... echoing, hopefully, the graciousness and splendour of a bygone era.

This European atmospheric retreat has entertained those of affluence and influence, such as the likes of Sir Winston Churchill, Noel Coward, and many more. It was built in the early 1950s as the very private semi-retirement home of Swiss-born renowned society hostess Lady Diana Oetiker Van Der Meulen and her industrialist husband, a cousin to Walt Disney.

The fully fenced five-acre property changed hands, its present owner having hired a Hollywood movie set designer (believe the unbelievable), whose dedicated role was to create the perfect mood and epic setting for dream living at its finest, truly an Oscar-winning production to overwhelm your senses.

The tastefully appointed 9,000-square-foot composition (the main house and two guest cottages) stars nine air-conditioned deluxe bedroom suites, most with balcony access. We know that one-third of our life is actually spent sleeping, which means that if you happen to live to 90 years old, you would have been asleep for 33 years of your life! So it makes sense to get your quality sleep. Slip under the sheets here with certified 1,000-thread-count 100 per cent Egyptian cotton bed linens, considered around the world as the finest, softest, most luxurious bedding material available.

Co-stars include the drawing room (care for an aperitif?) and the formal dining room, seating up to 10 persons on Chippendale chairs – the foremost name in the entire history of English furniture.

The chef’s kitchen exposes upper and lower teak wood cabinets with marble counters in-between.

Roofed and trellised verandas might just be serving afternoon tea. A bar in this area is an added attraction for that high-spirited nightcap.

A wealth of feature, i.e., wood mouldings richly emphasising doorways, window openings, and high ceilings. Stylish antiques abound, some from the 17th century. What about the large 18th-century painting restored by experts and flown into Jamaica from Florence, Italy, at great expense? There are other international paintings and some by Jamaican artists. Photographs, too.

If you care to unwind, there’s a rooftop terrace and a swimming pool, complete with a pool house with its own stone fireplace, Italian tile showers, and mini kitchen, coexisting with a bar.

Other distinguishing attributes are a cedar shingle roof, French and louvre windows, and flooring in mahogany and walnut wood with rare Cuban tiles and terrazzo. The external colour is paw paw (a light orange shade).

All this and much more is expecting and demanding your sustained attention, presenting such desirable views of formal, fruited gardens, the sea, and the golf course literally at your doorstep. A private beach is nearby.

It is a stately home where the convergence of old-world charm and modern conveniences makes journeying to it that much more rewarding.

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