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Rock Haven

Rock Haven
by Traci O'Dea

Mike Masters, known in the BVI as the go-to guy for stainless steel banisters, biminis and barbecues, is in the process of building a one-of-a-kind home on Tortola.I visited the Mediterranean-style villa, still under construction in Cooten Bay, and chatted with Mike about the project.
Mike chose Cooten Bay as the locale for the villa, in part, because of the view which encompasses Cooten Bay, Josiah’s Bay, Little Bay and Guana Island. “It faces east, so you’ve got morning sunshine, and in the afternoon, it really cools down,” Mike said. He also chose Cooten Bay because it’s a gated community of mostly one-acre lots with a concrete road and all underground utilities, so no unsightly wires and poles tarnish the panoramas.

Another attractive feature of Cooten Bay is the boulder-strewn hillside. “I’m calling the house Rock Haven because there are so many beautiful rocks,” Mike said. During our visit, the always-dedicated Brynley Rathbun from Yacht Shots BVI climbed up between the boulders to take shots of the property and its surrounding landscape.
While the granite boulders that will be incorporated into the landscaping reflect Mike’s appreciation of the natural beauty of the island, the columns—the predominant architectural feature of the house—nod to Mike’s affinity for historical structures. This affinity is partially influenced by the Pasea Hall project—a 100-year old house that Mike restored above Road Town. “When I came here thirty years ago,” Mike said, “that was the only house 200 feet above Road Town. In all the old photographs, you can see it. It’s the old Treasure Isle Plantation home. There’s a lot of history there, and that’s where the columns come from. I’m trying to put some character back into building here.” Mike designed the columns and had the wooden die and fibreglass molds locally made by Jones Woodwork and Lester Fahie, respectively. “We poured them on site, one by one,” he said. I counted 20 columns so far, but Mike assured me there were more to come. The columns on the main level—with archways between them—serve to frame the view while the main purpose of the lower-level columns is to hide the practical parts of the house—storage and cisterns.

Mike envisioned a home that is open plan in the extreme. “I gave the architect [Brian Edmund from SA Architects] a hard time,” he said, “because my vision was no doors.” Mike described his dislike for closed off interiors and added, “Instead,” he said, “I use walls to hide any intimacy,” with a few practical exceptions.

Upstairs, the main house boasts three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, and each shower overlooks the sea and sky. Mike took some advice from BVI realty guru Maritha Keil of Sotheby’s International Realty. “She had a large input on sizes and what makes a good house—balcony sizes, for example. She insisted that I put large balconies so you could fit a chaise longue on each one,” Mike said. Another friend of Mike’s, an executive chef in the States, helped him design the kitchen and al fresco cooking area which will include a barbecue and pizza oven. “I like to cook, so I designed it so that when you’re in the kitchen you can still talk to people in the living room, and you still get the view. In fact,” he said, “there’s no living area that’s closed off from the view.” Mike and his wife selected Wolf and Miele appliances for the state-of-the-art kitchen.
Beyond the kitchen of the main house are the expansive pool and guest house. “The pool is way bigger than I wanted,” Mike said. “I just need something to plunge into and maybe a few Jacuzzi jets, but now that it’s done, it’s created a great outdoor area.” The pool seems to jut out from the cliff, and bathers can soothe their skin in the water while listening to the waves wash over the rocks of Cooten Bay below. On the other side of the pool, a separate two-storey building will serve as the guest house, “but it could also be used as an office and gym or a separate master bedroom,” Mike said.
In the property world, Mike and his company Nautool are known for stainless steel railings—mostly straight, sleek lines. “I’ve always had an eye for lines, straight lines,” he said, but for this property, he wanted to try something different. “I have a custom idea in my head,” Mike said. “I want a soft touch, a warm touch. I’m going to try and incorporate curves that arch out—a Romeo and Juliet-type thing.” So the arch design overhead, above the columns, will be mimicked in the arched railings between each column. In addition to the stainless steel railings, Mike has designed a stainless steel feature for the front door—a stand of bulrushes—that will serve as a security gate and also add “some personal, artistic flair.” When I asked Mike where he got his ideas, he said, “I dream about things like that. It’s that vision you start to put on paper.” He described how he used to make what he called “boat jewellery—trinkets of shiny, stainless steel things hanging off a boat” for customers who wanted a little bling. At clients’ request, “I used to put a lot of flair into things that didn’t really need it,” he said. Mike’s stainless accents will also be used in the bathrooms and kitchen of this new home.
The luxury villa, with nods to historical architecture as well as contemporary stainless steel design, should be completed by the time of publication.

For more information,
email [email protected], attn: Rock Haven.

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