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island girl

British-born India Hicks revels in her home in the Bahamas.


India tailored Hibiscus Hill to suit her passion for island life. this page: Coconut palms hold sway. opposite , clockwise from far left : India and Domino at play. In India’s study, a sketch of her mother. Gone barefoot.

our home

sits on three acres of rolling garden that stretch inland from the top of the dunes, with jungle on two sides and a valley of coconut palms on the other. The site looks out over the distant rooftops of town to the harbor and the setting sun. When we originally saw the house, peeking in the windows together, it was love at first sight. David remembers that I said simply, “It feels like home.” That was in 1996. During the next fifteen years, we have enjoyed transforming Hibiscus Hill. Wherever possible, David and I removed the original cement, tile and glass and replaced them with the softer and more natural materials of wood, paper and straw. In the dining and sitting rooms, we overlaid the floors with wood, using some unusually large fir planks that are a foot wide and, in some cases, sixteen feet long. We stained them a dark oak shade, although they now boast an aged patina of their own. Travel is one of our most effective sources of inspiration, and we found a large quantity of our furniture, including our dining table and chairs, in New Orleans. Almost all the rooms in the house are decorated in fairly muted tones, offering a respite from the brightness outside. That is, apart from the odd moment when we broke the rule and painted a staircase bougainvillea pink, upholstered a sofa in dusty watermelon and painted a study in screaming fire-engine red. Our two studies express different styles: his and hers, decorated without compromise. Hers, the red office, took four coats of gloss to cover the drywall. His is the more predictably masculine study, where the atmosphere is something like a captain’s cabin on an old schooner. The mahogany-stained bookshelves and the flush brass door handles were purchased from a boat chandler. 124

My famed interior decorator father, David Hicks, was renowned for using almost any available flat surface to create what he termed “tablescapes.” This inheritance has become something of an obsession in our house. The center of our sitting room is dominated by a mini-museum of disparate and eccentric objects. Our bedside tables offer another opportunity for tablescaping, although continually subject to review. Beside these tables is our aptly named Lord Mountbatten Tester Bed, a large and particularly tall four-poster that sits comfortably beneath the tray ceiling—so called because they look like inverted trays. Tray ceilings are typical of Caribbean homes. The bedroom walls are covered by hand-colored tropical bird prints, found in London and dated 1820. They reinforce the feeling of a period plantation house. We cherish the original floor tiles, manufactured by Cubans and brought to Nassau in the 1950s. We try to give the rooms of our four children a strong sense of individuality yet never drift too far from our DNA: a combination of international lives, classic British taste, including its eccentricities, and the traditions and flavor of the Caribbean. Our home is a storehouse of family history, a living archive that holds the treasures of our personal life. It speaks of where we’ve been, who we are and the distinctive style cultivated by our journey together. opposite , clockwise from top left : Felix, Amory, Conrad and Domino’s playhouse, designed by their father and painted red, white and blue after the Union Jack. A shaded pergola is perfect for a midday nap or a quiet conversation. No swimming allowed when Neptune rules the waves. A study in white on white on the veranda off the master bedroom. Jenga, the family’s macaw. center : India and Domino on a lazy afternoon.

photos of india hicks: brittan goetz

has evolved over time, layer upon layer, into a truthful representation of who we are. It is not a status symbol and certainly lacks pretension. Hibiscus Hill was built in the 1950s, but we endeavored to make the villa look like it was built in the 1850s.The house

too far we never drift “ from our DNA:a combination of

international lives, classic British taste, including its eccentricities,and the flavor of the Caribbean.


clockwise from top left : David’s

study, in mahogany and Brazilian ipê, charts a masculine course with its zebra-hide safari chair, sailboat model and seascapes. The dining room, with antique furniture, bespeaks hospitality by way of pineapple table lamps and a bronze ice bucket as centerpiece. A vignette in red, dark wood and leather. Art brings global allusions to the island house. Classic Caribbean low-key style mixes with a French antique mantel and mirror. opposite: India’s travels on safari in Africa inspire her to set a formal table outside in the open.

clockwise from above : Always in the pink, Domino’s antique bed nestles in a nook amid handcolored English prints. India’s desk holds one of her favorite mementos: a rose from Princess Diana’s bridal bouquet. (India was one of the flower girls at the royal wedding.) Taking a cue from India’s father, another sterling tablescape. A traditional cotton canopy dresses the four-poster bed named after her grandfather. India and Domino share a motherdaughter moment in their sunkissed private world. opposite: An unprecious blend of furniture in a breezy guest bedroom.

Veranda: Island Girl  

British-born India Hicks revels in her home in the Bahamas.