Palm trees rustling in the breeze whisper a wake-up call. A lazy
sleepy blinks reveal the silhouettes of birds soaring against the warm sunrise over turquoise Harrington Sound. Though others flock to Bermuda as tourists, this family lives here. And they enjoy its glory every day.
Much like couples anywhere else, Blake and Jack Collier gettheir two sons, Jack, 6, and Ford, 4, up and ready for carpool andschool. But their lives are anything but typical. "Jack will comehome from school, put on his snorkel, fins, and mask, and swim inthe little bay just picking up shells and looking at fish forhours," says Blake.
She and her husband both grew up in Houston, and were livingthere when―four years ago―Jack got a call from a friendwho was working to set up an insurance company in Bermuda. He askedJack to join him in the venture. Jack's response was doubtful.
"I told him we had a 2-year-old and my wife was pregnant," hesays. "But when I got home that night and told Blake about it, shesaid, 'Are you crazy? Call him back―we'd love to go!' " Thatwas in February. Four months later, the Colliers packed up andmoved.
They found a temporary house and settled into Bermuda's slowerpace. The number of houses available for non-Bermudians to buy islimited, so most expatriates lease from longtime Bermuda propertyowners. Such was the case here. A house named Blue Harbour, built in the mid-1800s by the Outerbridgefamily and doubled in size in 1930 by the second generation, becameavailable.
Typical of many Bermuda houses, coral limestone quarried from anearby hillside covers the home's exterior. The 10-inch-thick wallskeep the house cool in summer and protect against wind and weather.The roof, also coral limestone, slopes to gutters that channelrainwater to an underground cistern that provides drinkingwater.
With solid architectural details as her canvas, Blake made boldstrokes with her decor. While she appreciates the traditionalEnglish decoration in many Bermuda homes, she opted for a differentlook. "I wanted it to be comfortable. I didn't want to look at theliving room and think a kid can't walk in there, especially whilemy children are small. We entertain a lot so we [needed] a roomwhere you could have fun without worrying."
Blake hired Houston's Jacomini Interior Design to help pull theliving room together. "I really wanted to bring the outdoors in,"says Blake. "That's why we used the turquoise and the brown palmson the fabric. I wanted it to be natural, islandy, casual, andfun."
One of the first things Blake did to transform the empty spacewas paint. When the family moved into the house, everything wascold white. Blake's mother, Lynn Baker, a decorative painter,changed that right away by painting a faux finish in the diningroom, giving it a warm Tuscan feel. Blake liked it so much, shepainted the entryway and kitchen, giving one a parchment-coloredfinish and the other a wash of azure.
The design firm worked with Blake long distance to selectjust-right furnishings and accessories. "It was tricky. It was alot of work getting everything back and forth," she says. "Theywould e-mail digital photos to me of furniture and FedEx fabricsamples. It probably took more than a year to get everythingordered."
Having never seen the space, designer Kathy Jacomini Mastersonsays she worked from photographs and a floor plan. "I have apicture of it in my head, and that's it," she says. "You have to beable to visualize it."
The final design is one of comfort and ease. The living roomfurnishings complement the view out the double, arched window.Here, sofa and club chairs are slipcovered in a pale blue linen."We wanted it tropical, cool, and casual, but with a nice zip toit," says Kathy.
Blake also brings colors from the landscape to her interiorswith the native plants and flowers she cuts from her yard. "I don'treally garden; there's no need. There are so many natural plantsjust outside my door that I bring in and throw in a vase―it'swonderful."
The Colliers are not sure how long they'll stay, although Jacksays the insurance business in Bermuda has grown. "You could be inNew York or London in terms of a level of sophistication that youencounter in the business world here. But you just happen to besitting in an idyllic setting surrounded by turquoise water."
Their time in Bermuda has been an adventure for the Collierfamily. "The children probably don't realize what kind of paradisethey're living in because it's all they know," says Jack. "It's anincredible life―they fish, they swim right off the beach. Wejust hope we live here long enough for them to remember it."