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Dream House | A quad transformation

Published:Sunday | August 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Portmore, called the ‘Sunshine City’, and originally known as Salt Pond District, is one of the largest residential settlements in the English-speaking Caribbean. Many, many thousands of basic housing solutions in various schemes have been built over the years, with the majority of them undergoing additions and alterations, in every architectural excursion you could possibly imagine.

I have seen most of them, and this dream house, situated in a scheme called Silverstone, in Greater Portmore, is an exemplar of how transformational design can move you and the community in the most enriching ways. Just look at the before and after pictures!

When the compact, studio unit (called the quad) was originally advertised, it boasted a kitchen and bathroom. It was “the start of your dream home with your own imaginative design”. An 18ft x 12ft box on a 1,200-square-foot plot of land, “for you to create your ideal living space”.

Today’s structure was purchased by its owner, Dennis Hall, in 2003. The reconfiguration took seven months to complete, with him being the designer and contractor. He has since rented the property.

The two floors are skilfully occupied by a self-contained flat downstairs, with its own front patio. It also boasts a cozy upstairs, with air-conditioned living-dining room with private balcony, and a kitchen with maple wood cabinetry and Corian counter top. Two bedrooms will have you snoozing away, with a shared (sky lit) bathroom. Lo and behold! An attic quite unexpected, (with window) is also included for additional activity. A storage area is confined underneath the stairs.

One of the hallmarks of this house is its thoughtful architectural details that help to differentiate it from the crowd. For example, decorative iron grillework is not busy, but rather, quietly artistic in its presentation. Also, the ceilings are meticulously textured in coloured tones, keeping eyes riveted upwards. Double tray ceiling profile, in the master bedroom, portrays twinkling, luminous, recessed fixtures. So many of the remodelled quads have no private driveway, but this one has.

Other features include outstanding brackets (corbels) right under the roofline, which emphasise and enliven the façade. Another detail is the exquisite mosaic tile borders, defining each doorway, systematically interrupting the porcelain floor tiles running throughout. The walls, like the ceilings, are equally playful, with colours to excite and promote good cheer. Planters outside add greenery in its execution.

The sanctity of the design has been paramount in its execution that is, its function, appeal, and maintenance efficiency. Yes, people have fallen in love with this structure, and the owner is reminded of it every day. Some even wish to take the building off its foundation and whisk it away – if it were possible.

This is, quite simply, architecture evoking in the onlooker, a state of wonder. An intense psycho-physiological stimuli, for a house that defies its size.

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