The September issue of Vogue has an article about Bunny Mellon's storied caribbean getaway. The cottage sits on the lush grounds of the Mill Reef private club just above Antigua's spectacular azure coastline. Mellon is remembered as a legendary tastemaker and brought her considerable skills to bear in this idyllic setting. Designed as a series of connecting pavilions by architect H Page Cross and decorated with Billy Baldwin there are customized elements throughout, including oak floors scrubbed with salt water to give the aged effect seen more typically in Swedish mansions. Antigua's local artisans and craftspeople also contributed by making furniture that replicated antiques, wattle fencing and clay pots.
After standing empty for 20 years Tory Burch our own contemporary tastemaker, bought and restored rather than renovated the house to its former glory. Daniel Romualdez, the architect-decorator who created the Tory Burch stores and has also decorated her other homes was involved in the restoration. As Tory states to maintain that unpretentious vibe "he understands about that restraint and shabbiness. The idea of imperfection - like washing out fabrics to make them look old."
The main upgrades seem to have been restricted to the bathrooms, adding a kitchen pantry and making the property ecologically green with solar panels, a desalination plant and a huge rainwater cistern. A smart move considering Antigua is prone to occasional hurricanes.
As for the gardens, landscape designer Miranda Brooks was tasked with reviving them while maintaining their original sensibility. I have family in Antigua and when I sent them photos of the house they all recognize it and are glad it’s been restored with people living there and enjoying it once again. In fact my nephew recently inherited a beautiful property on a much smaller parcel of land nearby that I'm planning to help him renovate with elements from this house will serving as invaluable inspiration. I see custom-painted floors...