Inspired! Kravet: Designer Projects: Tropical Comforts & Performance Fabrics

October 10, 2013 | DSH Design

Inspired! Kravet: Designer Projects: Tropical Comforts & Performance Fabrics

Caribbean leisure, French elegance and a luxurious yet comfortable home that would blend both worlds together seamlessly. This is what Donna Stockton-Hicks had in mind when she began making plans to design, build and decorate a seven-bedroom villa on an island just north of the equator.

St. Barths (short for St. Barthélemy) is one of the four Caribbean islands that together form the French West Indies, and its pristine beaches and small-scale hotels have long made this idyllic refuge a favored spot for travelers seeking rest and refreshment. Yet even more restful than a brief stay on St. Barths, thought Stockton-Hicks, would be the kind of home whose exquisite yet functional interior would afford tropical comfort and personal privacy.

After five years of visiting and falling in love with the delectable cuisine and the blend of Caribbean, French and Swedish cultures that makes St. Barths so unique, Stockton-Hicks decided to embark on a project that would enable the kind of extended stay she thought the island deserved. This was not the first large-scale building project that Stockton-Hicks had pursued. She had already designed a 13-suite bed and breakfast in Big Sky, Montana, called the Big EZ Lodge.

Yet building on St. Barths brought its own challenges. “The level of pre-planning required to organize all the contents of 7 bedrooms, 3 living spaces, 2 dining areas and 2 pools was a little overwhelming at the beginning,” she said. “The hardest part was purchasing and shipping all of the contents from the U.S. without being able to really try anything in the space ahead of time. My scale had to be perfect, because there was no sending stuff back by boat.”

However, with great obstacles come great rewards. And no one who enters the interior of this extraordinary home could deny the pleasure that it gives.

“We chose the property in the small town of Columbier because of its beautiful sunset views and its clear vision of St. Martin and Saba,” Stockton-Hicks said.

Once she had acquired the location she desired, the first task was to come up with an architectural style that would complement the landscape and buildings around her villa. “I didn’t want to be known as the interior designer who had built the villa that stuck out like a sore thumb,” she said with a smile.

Stockton-Hicks knew that she also wanted to figure out a way to bring the French Caribbean feel of Saint Barths indoors. “What are the French known for?” I asked myself. “I decided to name each suite after a famous French Designer. Hence, the villa houses suites named Hermes, Coco, Louis, Ives, Christian, etc.”

To introduce an air of the Caribbean, Stockton-Hicks integrated stone elements typical of the island on the outer façade and the inner walls and ceilings. “We used pods of smaller buildings for the correct island scale,” she said, “and each room has the traditional ceilings that have always been used down in St. Barths. All the stone on the walls and building were taken from the actual lots. For two years they broke the stone up and created the effect you see.”

After resolving all of the major structural decisions that went into building the villa, Stockton-Hicks could focus her attentions on the part of the process she enjoys even more: turning a beautiful building into an enticing home.

Of course, a home of this quality and magnitude demands a strong sense of elegance.

“A high-end real estate property such as this deserves objects of extraordinary interest and beauty, such as the antique Louis Vuitton trunks and the antique French vase lamps that we used,” Stockton-Hicks said.

However, the key was to achieve just the right combination of elegance and livability. “People would still be bringing in sand from the beach and water from the pools. Throw a little sunscreen into the mix, and I knew that the fabrics chosen needed to handle these potential problems. I found the perfect solution by using a lot of ultrasuede, some leather, and many of Kravet and Lee Jofa’s indoor / outdoor performance fabrics.”

The results were eminently satisfying. The villa’s inner atmosphere soothes the senses with its ocean-view dining spaces and lush living quarters, yet its dwellers and visitors need not fear ruining this atmosphere with a spilled cocktail or an overturned plate. Easy-to-clean, stain-resistant fabrics are as easy on the
mood as they are on the eyes.

“I love comfortable, uncluttered spaces,” Stockton-Hicks says. Anyone who experiences the stunning vistas and airy interiors of her latest design cannot help but love them too.

*From the newsletter Inspired! Kravet. View the entire newsletter here.