Hurricane Matthew tore through the Bahamas in 2016, its 120-miles-per-hour winds battering the islands’ structures—including a home in picturesque Lyford Cay that designer Matthew Carter had finished renovating for clients just a few years earlier. “It blew the roof off the house, destroying basically everything inside,” Carter recalls. “Every piece of upholstery, every curtain, every rug—it was completely ruined.”
The devastation hit particularly close to home. “The Bahamas have been a really special place for me and my partner for almost 20 years,” explains the Kentucky-based designer, who vacations on nearby Harbour Island and recently bought a house there. So when the post-storm cleanup was completed and rebuilding began, he was more than game for a second go-round—and made the house even more breathtaking than before.
“I saw how the owners had been using it in the few years they lived there, so it was a chance to tweak some things,” Carter says. In went a double-story balcony to give them more outdoor space, and wider doors so the whole home had a more indoor-outdoor feel. Pecky cypress—a type of wood that’s extra-resistant to insects and the elements—was installed on walls and ceilings. Carter also installed curtains in the living and dining rooms (“I had always felt like they needed more delineation and softness,” he says) and punched up the overall palette, using more intense versions of the colors he had chosen for the initial renovation. The previously dark-green shutters, which had given the hilltop house an imposing look, were repainted in a custom ocean blue that felt more welcoming.
Most important, says Carter, the house is now an even clearer representation of his clients’ elegant but easygoing personalities. “After a decade of working together, I know them so well, and the finished house really embodies the trust they put in me,” the designer says. “They loved the old one, but they love the new version even more!”
A “punched-up” version of the pale pink Carter had originally used in this house, Benjamin Moore’s Precocious is tropical but still elegant. Chandelier: Ainsworth-Noah. Sofa: Luther Quintana in a Perennials fabric with Penny Morrison (center) and Schumacher pillows. Chair: custom in a Fortuny fabric. Side table: Trace Mayer Antiques. Cocktail table and wood chair: antique. Rug: Shyam Ahuja.
“We could get away with a lot of pattern because the wall space is limited,” says Carter, who had a decorative painter stencil an Indian-inspired motif. Chandelier and dining table: antique. Sconces: Urban Electric Co. Dining chairs in a Kravet fabric; side chairs in Sister Parish. Curtains: Cowtan & Tout.
A 14-foot-long banquette in a Larsen fabric is prime seating for after-dinner drinks. Rug: Shyam Ahuja. Chairs: custom in Clarence House fabric. Pendant: vintage from Found in Houston. Sconce: Visual Comfort. Wall paint: Gentleman’s Gray, Benjamin Moore.
Pecky cypress walls and glazed French-blue trim give it the feel of a vintage rec room. Mirror and cocktail table: The Raj Company. Lamps: Visual Comfort. Sofa: O. Henry House. Rug: Shyam Ahuja.
“We were able to make a few changes that time had prevented us from doing the first go-round,” says Carter, who added a double-story balcony to expand the house’s outdoor living space. Table: clients’ own. Chairs: custom.
The same China Seas fabric was used on both the sofa and the walls (in paper-backed form). Pendant: antique. Lamps: Visual Comfort. Chairs: custom in a Peter Fasano fabric. Pillows: Jane Shelton. Tables: vintage. Rug: Unique Carpets.
“The clients came with so many collections, from vintage barware to these island prints,” says Carter. Mirror: Bobo Intriguing Objects. Console: Steve Tipton Antiques. Sofa by The Raj Company and custom chairs: both in Kravet fabric. Pink pillows: John Robshaw. Bench: The Island Store. Wall paint: Bird’s Egg, Benjamin Moore.
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