HOME & GARDEN
RESOURCES & INSPIRATION
OBMI modernises a traditional Bermuda cottage while maintaining its original character.
Updating Old Bermuda
When a new homeowner purchases a Wil Onions house they invariably call upon OBMI to see if the original drawings are still in the archives; and invariably they are,
catagorised by their original owner’s name or the name of the house.
Original photographs of the interiors and exteriors of the house when
first built (such as this one) may also be available. The excitement of
renovating a 40-, 50- or even 60-year-old home designed by a predecessor is supported by the confidence that it was well designed and tells a
story of who the original owners were. This gives the current architect
a mature landscape and neighbourhood to work with and provides a
sense of place for the new owner.
High roof pitches, rare in today’s construction, with traditional high
tray ceilings helped keep houses cool during the summer days at a time
when air-conditioning and ceiling fans were nonexistent. The quintessential Bermuda cottage was designed small in scale and characterised
with high tray ceilings and windows placed to take advantage of the
cross breezes to keep the interiors cool throughout Bermuda’s hottest
This home, situated on a cliff site with a southern breeze most days,
has a view that takes your breath away each time you walk through the
front door, and is characteristic of many Bermudian homes designed
by the firm in the 40s and 50s. It was, however, designed, as many were,
with smaller spaces, separated by hallways, a design which has no appeal
in today’s modern lifestyle. That “old cottage look” with cedar beams
and buttery smooth walls is much beloved, but without the headaches
that come from the maintenance. Cedar beams, white walls and high
ceilings are all wonderful features to start with, good bones that will
maintain the traditional Bermudian character by blending it with all
the modern conveniences—resulting in a fabulous home ready for a
new generation. A modern twist on a traditional past does not have to
mean all glass walls and stark white interiors. A modern take on tradition is much more.
In this design, OBMI provided the client with options for chang-
ing rooms around and re-planning the house in a way that the owner
envisioned. The kitchen, which had no views to the south, was relocated
within an open-plan concept allowing family time to spill out into the
WRITTEN BY MICHELE SMITH
By removing interior walls and creating
an open plan in the main living areas,
this old Bermuda cottage had new life
breathed into it.