[Interior | Natural Building] —- A Bamboo Beach House In Mustique Designed By Veere Grenney
Bamboo Beach House – Bamboo Beach House | Mustique, in the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines group of Caribbean islands, is just 2.2 square miles, yet it exerts a fascination far beyond its size. The 3rd Baron Glenconner, Colin Tennant, who bought the island in 1958 for £45,000, had hoped to grow cotton there. When that plan failed, he decided to make it into an exclusive holiday setting for his friends and divided the island into 120 plots.
In 1960, in a brilliant PR coup, he gave the first 10-acre site to his friend Princess Margaret. Her home, Les Jolies Eaux, was decorated in a cosy, Home Counties Peter Jones style, but since then, the island has attracted the mega rich, some of whom look on a plot as their chance to build a fantasy home in the shape of a Roman palazzo, a Japanese temple or a high-tech, futuristic box.
Interior designer Veere Grenney knows Mustique well, and had already designed half a dozen homes for this client before he bought one of the island’s most unusual houses in 2007. Veere describes it as ‘a beach folly, a little Robinson Crusoe bamboo paradise’.
The original house had been built in the Seventies by the Swedish architect Arne Hasselqvist for the American advertising dynamo Mary Wells Lawrence and her airline president husband Harding Lawrence. They used the place almost as a bathing hut for their vast home at the top of the island.
The main building – two separate side pavilions house the main bedroom, spare rooms and children’s rooms – includes the great room, a magnificent living space at the top of the house. At 15 metres long, it is a combined sitting and dining area, its walls and pitched ceiling completely re-clad in 10cm-diameter cured bamboo stalks. It is open to the elements on four sides, so sea breezes keep it cool, although storm windows are stored in cupboards for when bad weather threatens. The room faces west and gets beautiful afternoon light and a grandstand view of the daily extravaganza of the Caribbean sunset.
The bamboo, a traditional building material in the Grenadines, came from nearby Saint Vincent, where it is always harvested when the moon is on the wane. The belief is that termites quickly devour any bamboo cut when the sap is rising, even once the wood is cured. The team then went in search of vintage bamboo furniture and bought it in container loads, mostly from Los Angeles and Miami, and often through 1stdibs.