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An Eye For Style – Mollihawk

Design, Projects

A Peek Inside The Property That Inspired The Sugar Ridge Homes

To the unsuspecting eye, it looks like an ordinary bedroom garnished with the usual stuffed animals and primary colours favoured by pint-size occupants.

Investigate the unassuming-looking bookcase in one corner though and something magical happens. A gentle tug swings it open like a door to reveal a gap just big enough for a child, leading to a secret den positioned a few feet below. The pièce de résistance will be when the slide is fitted to transport a child and pals down to their own private hideaway.

For anyone who recalls draping a sheet over two dining room chairs to create an improvised counterpart in their youth, it’s utterly impossible not to shriek with delight. If it has this effect on a grown adult, one can only imagine the glee it must invoke in a nine-year-old.

The upbeat, Narnia-inspired feature is not the only exceptional detail to be found at this one-acre property on the top of a hill overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard. In fact, the bird’s eye view of a UNESCO World Heritage Site – complete with an 18th century fortress and Clarence House, once a haunt of British royalty – could almost get missed in the rapture.

Mollihawk’s well thought out, utilitarian interior is the work of its owner Aidan McCauley, developer behind the chic Sugar Ridge resort on Antigua’s west coast. The muted palette and sleek minimalist design emit the same cool modern vibe as the luxury hotel and its private villas.

Refurbishments are something of a passion for Aidan who bought the house in 2014. But it was an impromptu Christmas lunch 14 years earlier when the property first captured his imagination.

“We’d been to Nelson’s Dockyard for the annual Christmas Day party and ended up here for lunch afterwards,” he tells Luxury Locations Magazine.

Back then, Mollihawk was owned by yacht charter industry veteran Rodney Nicholson who had commissioned renowned architect Robertson ‘Happy’ Ward in the 1960s to create him something exceptional.

“From the first time I saw the house I loved it,” Aidan says. “Years later, when I was looking for a place to buy, I mentioned to a realtor that I wanted something just like Rodney Nicholson’s house. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it was for sale; it seemed like fate.”

Not only had the stunning shingle-roofed home, built around a central pavilion, been Aidan’s muse when designing the Sugar Ridge villas, now it ignited his passion for restoration too.

Sugar Ridge themes can be seen in the fluidity with which interior and exterior living spaces meet. Two of the bedrooms are contained within an adjoining wing, and all three lead directly onto a sun-soaked terrace with infinity pool perfectly positioned to maximise the breath-taking views.

“We totally transformed what was a basic pavilion with open sides, and added a flat roof to partially cover the terrace,” Aidan says. “I wanted to enclose it a little as it was going to be the main living area but it was important to me to keep the original footprint, with the stone pillars and the way the indoor and outdoor areas relate to each other.”

The former kitchen became the third bedroom, with a splendid en-suite fitted with a luxuriant over-flow bathtub. The new kitchen area, an erstwhile pergola overlooking the garden behind, is a space to behold.

“No one really understood what I wanted to achieve with the kitchen. They wanted me to put cabinets against the back,” Aidan continues, indicating the glass wall which floods the space with light and facilitates verdant outdoor scenes.

“But I wanted a large central island and also to retain the pergola feel and of being inside a garden.”

Instead, cupboards for pots, pans and crockery are cleverly worked into the island which has a smart black steel worktop. Actually, the island deserves a special mention – its intriguing concept features the Christian names of Aidan, wife Angie and their son Sam worked into the front in a rustic, chalk-on blackboard feel.

Other individual touches are aplenty. Like the contemporary Buddha crafting found on a trip to India, an old bench picked up from an allotment England which still bears the scars of some enthusiastic vegetable chopping, 3D artwork bought in the 90s, and the prized piano that belonged to Angie’s grandfather.

The same team of high-end architects and suppliers used at Sugar Ridge has been enlisted here too. That includes architectural firm OBM International and its senior architect Mitch Stuart, while Clearline supplied windows and doors, kitchens came from UK firm InHouse, and fixtures and fittings from American Export.

There is evidence of the resort’s interior designer Charmaine Werth’s flair too – such as the trio of retro-style lamps in the kitchen – but the discerning style and accents are predominantly Aidan’s.

The former music business executive, who opened Sugar Ridge in 2009, has been a hands-on figure with the creation of each one of the resort’s exquisite private homes.

With their prime elevated position boasting jaw-dropping vistas over turquoise Caribbean Sea and the Jolly Harbour township, the homes offer unlimited access to the resort’s acclaimed restaurants, bar, gym, salon and Aveda Concept spa. Buyers can choose from one of seven model homes or design their own in sync with Sugar Ridge’s visionary team. It’s the latter where Aidan’s artistry really comes into play.

“Just like with renovations, new build homes tend to go over budget. When a client buys a Sugar Ridge home, they get my attention to detail - and I am the only one who has to worry about the budget,” he laughs.

Aidan’s own home – where additional bedrooms and separate units are now under construction among elegantly landscaped grounds – is his sixth refurbishment.

“I love the challenge of renovating,” he imparts. “It’s much more difficult than starting with a blank slate as you have to fit everything you want into a defined space and get all the little bits to work together.

“I find it a lot more fun. That eye for detail is what I believe I put into Sugar Ridge.”