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DI Details Newsletter April 2010 Design Institute of San Diego

Alumni Follow-Up – Angela Hall

Want to Explore a Career in Interior Design?

The Kravet Lee Jofa Student Fabric Resource Center

Have You Met Lisa Schattman Yet?


The DI Green Design Challenge

The Great Houses of Europe

Alumni Follow-Up – Angela Hall

Once Angela had proven herself, the client in Hong Kong hired her to build his new home in the Falmouth area of Antigua. There she found a partial foundation and a local architect who had designed a basic house, but lacked imagination. She fixed all that.

Sitting atop a cliff, the house has a 360° view of the sea with the islands of Guadalupe and Montserrat visible from the front, and English Harbour in the back. The front edge of the house essentially perches on the edge of the cliff over 300 feet high. "There were some challenges ahead of me" she laughs.

The client's specifications for the 6,000 square foot house were as follows:

  • 5 bedrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Study
  • T.V. room
  • Open living space (including formal and casual dining space)
  • Small gym with its own deck
  • Gazebo bolted to the edge of the rock face
  • Parking garage
  • Store room
  • Maid's quarters (including maid's kitchen and laundry space)
Angela had a few initial concerns that she needed to address in her space planning, including the location of the structure on the property, and properly incorporating the access from the house to the infinity edge swimming pool. She also had to account for issues like whether the trade winds were friendly (cooling the house) or unfriendly (bringing hurricanes).

Implementing the Plan

"The layout of the space lent itself to a specific furniture configuration" Angela reports. "The view was paramount", and the key was to consider a style that would fit the surroundings and that could be delivered utilizing the resources in Antigua.

Trust is a key factor when working on a project, of course, and even more so often from a distance and in a country that is unfamiliar. Angela realized that getting acclimated was going to be more than a little frustrating. Work on the best of days went slowly, and what she thought should have been a two-year assignment ended up taking twice that long.

Accomplishing A Successful Solution

Angela supported the local talent with her own crew that she brought from Hong Kong.

"I supervised every aspect of this project - layouts, electrical, wiring - the works. Everything crossed my desk, including the elevations, closets and bathrooms. It was also challenging drawing using imperial measurements, since I'm used to working in metric."

"I selected all the basics - plumbing fixtures and hardware, silestone, limestone, marble counters and pool mosaics - so that they could be ordered from the USA. To clad the external part of the raised foundation, I decided it would be nice to reuse all the discarded stone that had been excavated to accommodate the lower level of the house to provide a lovely natural and indigenous feel. I also wanted the living space furniture to be made up in high end outdoor fabrics, since it would be constantly exposed.

The Concept

Going for a typical 'Caribbean' timber home (beachy, casual, cozy and lived in), Angela selected vintage items to appear like the owners had spent 15 years collecting for the home. Simultaneously, the house needed the latest amenities and couldn't lack in luxury.

Bearing the geography in mind, as well as the client's wife's desire to have a slightly shabby "cottagey" feel in the home, a basic color scheme of antique white, grey celadon and linen and creams was used for the house itself. Bright accents were to be incorporated through the use of natural plant materials and the colors of the surrounding landscaping.

Isn't Shopping Supposed to be Fun?

As with the Hong Kong assignment, Angela did all the shopping and selecting without ever showing purchases to the client until the entire package had been assembled.

She did all her shopping for the assignment in the US, spending seven weeks in southern California searching for and purchasing every little shell, accessory, kitchen item, bathroom light, towel, stick of furniture, bed sheet, book, carpet, lamp, fan…and anything else the property could possibly need. A second trip three months later allowed her to fill in any remaining gaps.

"On both trips I spent 12-15 hours every day driving all over – researching, buying, picking up, dropping off at my storage unit, shipping to the island, tracking costs…it was EXHAUSTING!" All this while figuring out what item went where, photographing each item and tracking what was still missing.

"In the end we had a 40 foot container, and a 20 foot container, but much to my relief, everything was delivered intact with only minimal breakage."

"I was creating in a brand new home the image of years spent living there for people who had never set foot in the place and were trusting me completely." All this while developing an overall coherent look for the project, even as she provided a distinctive flair for each individual room.

Some might consider that an intimidating assignment. "I had fun" she says.

Lessons Learned for Next Time?

"Probably one of the most difficult aspects of this project was keeping a handle on all the purchases, and the overall logistics such as what I had bought in a shop and stored myself, what was ordered from a vendor and needed pick-up, or delivery and where it was delivered to, what was ordered on-line and making sure it got to the right container at the forwarders etc."

"I created so many spreadsheets to keep track of everything they were coming out of my ears!"

In the end, not including the actual build, I spent approximately $300,000 (US) on the furnishings and accessories alone. I would estimate that the entire job probably came in at about $1.5M, not including the purchase of the land.

And the result?

"I was extremely pleased with the end result. So was the client."

"The house is totally amazing. Everyone who has been there has been in awe of the place. I guess the craziness was worth it."

What about you? Got a great story about what you've been up to since graduating from DI? We'd love to hear about it.

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