Wed | Jan 26, 2022

Dream House | It was worth the doctor’s sacrifice

Published:Sunday | March 31, 2019 | 12:00 AM
A dream house that is a distraction to passers-by.
Terrace off the Living Room overlooking street/landscape.
Custom built kitchen seen through a grand archway.
Entertainment skydeck perched on a hill, way above the house.
The outdoor kitchen and seating area of the skydeck with views of the city

Good fortune in 2002 would bless two young doctors and their three children with the acquisition of a house in the middle of Cherry Gardens in upper St Andrew.

It was indeed an unattractive bungalow that needed much architectural resuscitation – but it would take two years before the family braved the eight-month-long, major renovation works. Sacrifices had to be, and were made to accomplish this endeavour. For example, the husband reluctantly sold his prized BMW SUV in exchange for a far less expensive vehicle.

Fifteen years later (and for the first time since the home was completed), I now go back to what I designed and built... to see if time has been kind to it. Yes it has! With furnishings in place and gardens established, cared for lovingly – truly a treat to my eyes.

Now I understand why people still, years on, reduce speed while driving past, and why the car crashed through the front fence in recent times, coming frighteningly close to a bedroom. Oh boy! Architecture can be such a distraction!

What was an original 2,700 square-foot residence built in 1968, was enlarged to 4,000 square feet to accommodate an open concept design of four bedrooms and four bathrooms. A dining room with double French doors opens to a rear verandah and a living room (with bay window) invites with its leather seats and Persian rugs underfoot. Walk up a few steps to the entertainment terrace (highlighted with a planter box) overlooking street and landscape. Family room with balcony and master suite with walk-in closets, Jacuzzi and a private balcony, constitute the additional floor added to the original structure. The custom-built kitchen from poplar wood, entered via a grand archway, is fed the sun’s rays through a roof skylight. Laundry and staff quarters follow, with steps leading down to the twin carport.

Other notable features include porcelain tiles throughout, custom-designed mahogany, nine-foot entry door; tan paint hues on some walls; very high ceilings downstairs and an angular, circular-columned entrance porch.

Outside was an engineering feat. The original house literally had no backyard – because it was built right up against the hill. That was unacceptable and the unthinkable took place! A large part of this hillside was bulldozed and a garden created for the children to play.

Hats off to the doctors. They would a few years later, construct an exhilarating, entertainment sky-deck, perched way above the house with a bird’s eye view of the city. A 1,000 square-foot space, which includes a gazebo; full outdoor kitchen; wide-screen TV; surround-sound stereo; seating and a powder room. Count 50 scenic steps by climbing a double stone staircase (with built-in fountain), then up the hill to this vertical, sensory spatial experience.

I ask the owners if they would sell... . Well, I think we all know the answer.

- Barry Rattray is a dream designer and builder.