Timeless Island Elegance

Sleek And Spare, Bonaire’s Hypnotic Charm And Graceful Ambiance Are On Display In One Award-Winning Home

Story Credits

Interior Design and Architecture:
Jeffrey Silberstein, Silberstein Architecture, Inc., Delray Beach, FL
Robin Hill, Miami Beach, FL
Text by:
Marina Brown
(View full image and details by clicking on picture)


Bonaire, a small serene island, basks in balmy Caribbean winds and crystal-blue waters. Part of a group of small islands called the ABCs along with Aruba and Curaçao; it’s one of the world’s top dive, snorkel and windsurfing venues — a veritable vacationer’s paradise. Yet some people are fortunate enough to call it home.

In an exclusive gated community with just eight homes, situated on a wide canal with the Caribbean at its feet, island-born owners of this 4,000-square-foot private home commissioned renowned architect Jeffrey Silberstein to create a unique residence that was secure, private and beautiful. “I am from the islands as well,” the architect says, who was raised on Curaçao. “Though I had designed other homes here, this one is a complete departure.”

Almost two years in the making, the Bonaire residence was a joy, but also a challenge for the designer to complete. “Every piece of the home had to be imported,” he says. “Limestone flooring from Italy, carved limestone exterior walls from Mexico, teak from Indonesia and several appliances from the United States and Europe.” All of it was crated and bundled to Bonaire where the local craftsmen exclaimed with delight when they saw the richness of the design and the results of their own artisanal craftsmanship.

The imposing castle-like stone shingled look of the exterior and stone privacy wall complements the pared-away lines of the facade that suggests a unique architectural sculpture punctuated with Mondrianesque windows and doors.

Inside, a teak and glass bridge offers a perfect view of the soaring living room below. Cached behind a bronze steel-paneled door, the inviting inner garden is filled with natural plants and cacti of the region’s arid landscape. Interior teak, glass and light-spackled stone impart the feeling of a tropical castle, while bolts of color convey warmth in mustard-yellow sofas and a burst of orange in a chair and ottoman by B&B Italia. In the far corner, the whimsical Sculpture sur Bois III, oil on wood by Dutch artist Corneille, adds authentic island flavor.

The spacious kitchen is made for entertaining. Boffi’s monolithic stainless steel island with lighting hood boasts ample storage and cooking space, while Miele’s double-oven melds into pure white Corian cabinetry.

In the dining room, Eero Saarinen’s classic table in white marble and swivel “Tulip” chairs sit across from floor-to-ceiling windows that offer an unobstructed view. A master of detail, Silberstein spent hours precisely placing the silver blown-glass orbs in the chandelier. “Getting the pendants spatially balanced took hours,” the designer says.

The color palette transitions to cool tones in the family room, where a deep blue sofa and swivel chair from B&B Italia, and Arne Jacobson’s “Egg Chair” confer like old friends. A yellow cocktail table and blue glass-topped occasional tables add a dash of sparkle.

At night, the master suite is enveloped by the mystery of the islands. A leather Zanotta chaise and Eame’s chair by Knoll beckon as Bonaire’s lush breezes flow through the open-air patio. Made from natural bamboo, the plush area rug is as lavish as it is environmentally friendly.

On the patio, abundant poolside seating abounds. The living space extends outdoors with reclining chairs by MDF that complement Maxalto’s small occasional tables and a Sunbrella-draped ottoman by Living Divani.

With sustainably green elements incorporated into the home, the design is not only beautiful, it’s “smart” as well. “Solar panels provide over half of the home’s energy; the teak is all reharvested; the glass provides protection from ultraviolet rays and there’s a cistern for watering the garden,” Silberstein says.

“The entire home along with its furnishings were created together as part of the whole,” the designer says. “All of the furniture was kept in warehouses until the final week when the owners returned for their surprise.” Ultimately, their requirements of uniqueness, privacy and discretion were a fait accompli when they put their trust in the designer. In the end, what mattered most was that the homeowners’ one real requisite was fulfilled … Silberstein had built their dream home.