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Design Insights

People are not quick to embrace transformation, and yet 2017’s hurricane season thrust the region into a state of renewal. 

With last year’s natural disasters, Mother Nature dictated we make change, providing an opportunity to reflect on our habitats—be it inside, outside, at home, or at work.

In light of all the devastation to our surroundings and our emotions, tackling these building projects can be overwhelming. Consider seeking advice from professionals to inject new energy and perspective. Professional interior architects approach your project from the inside out, working to analyse your needs, goals, and visions.

Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behaviour, allowing the creation of functional spaces within a building.

Consider these factors when renovating:

The Individual This is the most vital part of the architectural interior design vocation—the person who the property is being designed for; the humanity within the project.

From here, all the plans can flow, but the first instance is about studying the person(s) who will inhabit the space, whether it’s a commercial property or residential home.

How will person(s) interact in the space? How far are they stretching their budget for the design? Do they have a long-term vision? Will the home expect to see growth in the family? Will the expansion of their occupation or business be a factor? These questions and many more assist the definition of the project.

Function of Space

In the BVI, it’s wondrous to be involved in the creation of inhabitable spaces as we’re often not limited by walls; therefore, design can reach the exterior and beyond to form a cohesive design solution, working to create from the inside-out, spending time researching client needs, patterns, and goals.

For example; maybe you purchased your property from a former owner and always loathed the blocked view, misuse of materials, under-utilised space, or natural resources?

Now is an opportunity to look at aspects with a fresh perspective and increase functionality.

Light, Airflow, & Natural Elements

Design analysis of your structure incorporates the natural surroundings, phases of the sun, weather, and tradewinds.

In this arena, you’re looking for a design which protects you from the elements, but allows the maximum penetration of light and natural breezes.

Where light and airflow can be mis-managed in a room, makes the space appear excessively large, too small, or perhaps not properly orientated for its function.

An example would be a space for relaxing, such as in a living room; one would want to make sure there’s a consistent airflow passing through, and not stillness and humidity.

An instance of using airflow well can be seen incorporated in cross-ventilation, where the property has two openings across a room, allowing for the natural breeze to travel through.

When planning the entertainment spaces in your home, take into consideration the positioning in relation to sunrises and sunsets; in a broader sense, one might think about the seasons that affect the penetration of light and breezes, making your home either a pleasant, cool place to inhabit, or a very hot one.

Use of Materials

Materials are a core element in a successful design. Always keep in mind the harsh elements in the Caribbean. Often, mass production retailers do not manufacture for these surroundings.

As a good example, stainless steel is offered in different quality variations. The ‘PREN’ (Pitting Resistance Equivalent Number) ideally greater than 40, is typically specified as the minimum for persevering against the corrosive elements of sea water.

When it comes to flooring tiles, remember that there are different types of tile and different varieties of slip-resistance. Ensure that you have the correct tile for the function of the space.

Also, light fixture solutions made of a non-corrosive material such as clay—which are manufactured locally in BVI—are a wise choice. 

Quartz and granite for counter tops are less porous and more durable against the elements.

An additional suggestion for fabric would be solution-dyed materials resistant to chemicals, sun-fading, and mould/mildew.


‘Safety’ is perceived in relation to exposure of potential future events—are your windows and doors manufactured to appropriate specifications for natural disasters?

Are they installed correctly and protected?

Are your railings stable, of durable materials, and at the appropriate height?

There are different safety considerations in commercial and residential properties.

In commercial properties, emergency exits need to be well marked out, lit with backup power, and easily accessed with doors that swing in the general direction of exit as well as fire detection and suppression systems.

In residential homes, smoke detection systems, use of non-toxic finish materials, and ensuring fire extinguishers are on hand, stand as prime factors.

Alternative Energy Options

The Caribbean has a wealth of natural resources to capitalise on which can reduce costs of operating and maintenance. Alternative energy options are trending. Solar, wind, and wave energy are all in abundance.

Be sure to compare your fixtures for consumption and longevity. For example, LEDs are rated for hours of life, output, and energy consumption. Plumbing fixtures indicate how many gallons per flush or per minute are used. Low consumption plumbing fixtures will help you minimise use of your cistern water.

In summary, architectural professionals can not only ease the stress of getting the wheels of your renovation in motion, but can also add significant value to your project in helping you make smart, sustainable choices.

Debi Carson

Debi Carson

Habitat Editor Debi Carson is among the Caribbean's most prominent interior designers, heading one of the region's most versatile full-service design firms. Boasting sixteen years’ experience in the Caribbean and NCIDQ certification, Debi’s portfolio shines.
Debi Carson

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