nyone living west of Burnt House Hill surely mar-
velled at the demolition and subsequent reinvention
of an old fisherman’s cottage on the water side of Harbour Road when,
after four years of construction, its graceful new rooflines arose from
the white walls surrounded by the dramatically sloped property. The
owners, a Bermudian couple in the reinsurance industry, had rented
the old cottage for many years and had fallen in love with the property.
When the opportunity arose to purchase it, they set out to create their
dream home, hiring architect Mollie Bigley, of Linberg and Simmons,
along the way.
“Their main objective was to maintain the traditional charm and
natural feel of the property, creating a house that looked as if it had
always been there,” said Bigley, whose design inspiration came from tra-
ditional Bermudian cottage architecture. “It was important the cottage
look authentic so we made sure original details were not only accurately
recreated but used correctly. For example, eyebrows were only used
over windows and doors that were not already protected by an eave or
Before attending to such details, however, the architect was first
faced with the challenge of a difficult and unique site to build on—but
this hardly daunted Bigley who set out to create an oasis for the owners.
“The steep site surrounded by woodland reserve was a challenge but
it also allowed for opportunities to create unique features,” the architect
said. “A spiral stair down from the lay-by to the front door effortlessly
mitigates the quick elevation change from the road to the main entry.
Once below the level of the road, the mature vegetation and the views
over the Sound make you feel like you’re away from it all.”
The difficulties in building on this site were well noted by the judges.
“It was an extremely challenging site for both demolition and construc-
tion,” stated one, while another commented that, “to go down vertically
was a massive challenge.”
To truly appreciate the quality of architectural design, visitors to the
3,000-square-foot Kingfisher Cottage have to meander down the brick-
laid spiral steps to the main entrance below. The whitewashed, softly
rendered plaster finish on the exterior walls and the moulded eyebrows
that gently lift from the walls add the sought-after authenticity to the
new construction. In sharp contrast to the soft white walls, expanses of
heavy, rich-toned wood were used inside and out lending an air of gravi-
tas to the house, which otherwise might have appeared to be floating or
perched precariously on the side of the hill.
“Warm and rich, merbau wood was specifically selected and imported to be used throughout the house for both its beauty and durability,”
explained Bigley. Merbau was used for the doors, windows, floors and
even the kitchen countertops, while ipe was used for the roof rafters,
exterior railings, and the dock and pool deck—again for its durability.
The owners also repurposed a portion of the cedar from the original
cottage in the cedar pantry rafters and in a central cedar post on a spiral
staircase off the pantry—as well as recycling a simple door from the
old cottage for the coat closet in the entry which at first glance might
seem out of place but, as a reminder of their original home, holds great
Above: The entrance hall features
dry-laid stone flooring and rich merbau wood on the ceiling, main door
and staircase. Right: The lap pool.