When Italian-born interior decorator Alessandra Branca and her husband Steve Uihlein built a vacation home on Harbour Island—a long, narrow island in the Bahamas' where, per Architectural Digest's rendition, the "predominant mode of transportation is the golf cart," and one would have to choose between Bill Gates and Diane von Furstenberg if looking to borrow a cup of sugar—incorporating vernacular elements was key. They chose classic regional materials like pecky cypress and coral stone for the two stucco-and-shingle British Colonials they situated at opposite ends of a 40-foot-long swimming pool, one a six-bedroom with a veranda on both levels, the other a poolhouse with extra guest quarters. Other traditional features have obvious benefits, like the Bahamian upside-down house plan, which puts bedrooms on the ground floor and public areas on the top, keeping the communal living and dining rooms breezy and cool, but the decorator added a few personal touches to the project, which she spent time away from homes in Rome, Manhattan, and Chicago to help oversee.
The main house's staircases, for example, were made wider at the base, so guests, including the couple's three grown children, "feel like open arms are welcoming them." As to Branca's work on the interior, it channels the same aspiration she had when decorating a Manhattan apartment for Hearst's seventh annual Designer Visions showcase; as she explained while giving a tour last fall, "Any time I can link the past and now in a new and unexpected way, that's where I'm happy." This kind of remixing plays out in the living room, pictured above, with a pair of vintage armchairs outfitted with Bennison-print cushions, and a few nineteenth-century campaign chairs run through with thick Alessandra Branca for Schumacher stripes.
↑ Another second floor living area brings together a vintage red cabinet from the 1960s, Hunter Douglas woven-wood shades, and an octopus triptych from Branca's Chicago shop.
↑ In the dining room, an RH table is set with vintage chairs. The light fixtures are from Ikea.
↑ An Oly four-poster with Les Indiennes curtains sits in the master bedroom. The blue print of an H on the pillowcases presumably stands for Highlowe, the name that Branca and Uihlein gave the place. It gets repeated in one of the poolhouse's guest bedrooms, pictured in the full set of photos over at Architectural Digest.
↑ Glazed French doors, Chinese Chippendale–style railings, and one supremely enviable pool are visible from the outside.
· Alessandra Branca's Chic Bahamas Getaway [Architectural Digest]
· All the Luxe Details in Hearst's Designer Visions Showhouse [Curbed National]