From the Archives 17 Tropical Houses From the AD Archive That Ooze Serenity

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From Bali to Florida, Lamu to Panama, these retreats offer extraordinary, timeless design—and views aplenty


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From vacation retreats to full-time homes, these tropical houses provide an equal balance of lavishness and relaxation. Infinity pools, island views, and exotic locations differentiate these as properties, which boast extraordinary feats of opulent architecture and design in tropical climates. From the island of Lamu—off the coast of Kenya—to a sun-exposed retreat in Bali, these stunning tropical houses will outlast the sands of time in relaxation inspiration. Views of Isla Taboga from the outside dining area of designer Diane Burn’s Panama residence, the bungalow and Mediterranean elements of an Ike Kligerman Barkley–designed Maui house, the US Virgin Islands getaway of designers Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper, and many more AD-featured homes provide a taste of sumptuous warm weather living. Read on for 17 inspiring pads across the globe.

The pool.

AD, March 2016

 Photo: William Waldron

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Palm trees, sparkling waters, and sandy beaches are just some of the perks of living in a tropical location in Central or South America. Mark Anthony’s Dominican Republic villa, seen in AD’s March 2016 issue, was renovated with architecture firm DM Dominicana. The property encompasses a 10,000-square-foot main residence, a variety of pavilions, guest bungalows, and cabanas, two swimming pools, and a spectacular array of outdoor entertainment and lounging areas, including a man-made beach—all linked by meandering, densely landscaped pathways. Around the sand-bottom pool are palapa-style guest villas constructed of American pine and topped with cane roofs supported by concrete columns.

Image may contain Outdoors Nature Building Countryside Hut Rural and Shack

AD, August 2010

 Photo: Tim Street-Porter

Crimson pavilion

In Ubud, on Bali, architect Made Wijaya conceived a 12,000-square-foot compound. The guest/entertainment pavilion is an architectural hybrid of Balinese and Vietnamese styles. AD covered the tropical home in its August 2010 issue.

Image may contain Flagstone Housing House Building Villa Path Walkway Garden and Outdoors

AD, July 2011

 Photo: Oberto Gili

Effortless elegance

Classicism meets tropical comfort at an oceanfront estate in the Dominican Republic designed by Genevieve Faure. The property appeared in AD’s July 2011 issue.

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AD, August 2011

 Photo: Miguel Flores-Vianna

A simple plan

Architect Clemens Bruns Schaub devised this house in Windsor, Florida, which appeared in AD’s August 2011 issue. AD100 Hall of Fame designer John Stefanidis handled the decor.

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AD, August 2007

 Photo: Dan Forer

Endless blue

To create their house on Saint John, which was featured in the August 2007 issue of AD, Karl-Erivan and Katrin Haub called on architect Mike de Haas and interior designer Twila Wilson. From the pool, which features a compass rose, an infinity edge, limestone coping, and a coral-stone deck, the island of Tortola can be seen. A teak-and-aluminum railing skirts the deck’s border. De Haas situated a covered veranda right outside the gallery, extending the living space. Visible between the columns is Little Tobago island.

Image may contain Room Bedroom Indoors Interior Design Furniture Building Dorm Room Housing Bed Home Decor and Rug

AD, August 2010

 Photo: Tim Beddow

Breezy relief

Netting envelops a bed in this E. Claudio Modola–designed vacation home on the island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya. The home sits on a tall slope, its perch allowing for satisfying breezes and a perfectly tranquil view of the surrounding water. “The bed was made by local Swahili artisans,” Modola told AD when the home was featured in the August 2010 issue, “as were most of the house’s pieces.”

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AD, August 2008

 Photo: Bruce Buck

A poolside perch

A rattan sofa, chairs, and tables from McGuire compose a seating area on the covered porch of this Carleton Varney and Dorothy Draper–designed home in the Caribbean, which was in the August 2008 issue of AD. “It’s great for entertaining,” Varney noted.

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AD, August 2009

 Photo: Michael Calderwood

All about that view

As seen in the August 2009 issue of AD, the outside dining area of interior designer Diane Burn’s Isla Taboga villa has views of the village, an uninhabited island, and the mainland of Panama beyond. The chairs, which were made in Panama City, were modeled after a set of 19th-century French wrought-iron garden chairs Burn acquired while living in Paris.

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AD, August 2008

 Photo: Barbara Kraft

A unique take with teak

The Balinese-inspired dwelling of this Philip Pourrat–designed Bora Bora home, which is constructed mostly of teak, “is not typical of island houses,” noted homeowner Karen Brown Despert in AD’s August 2008 issue. A few paintings by Karen’s husband, Alain Despert, hang in the main room, which functions less as a living space than as a gallery for the collectors and dealers who come to see Despert’s work.

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AD, August 2007

 Photo: Matthew Millman

Maui medley

For Jim and Michelle Falk’s Maui house, “we tried a synthesis of island, bungalow, and Mediterranean elements,” architect Joel Barkley, of Ike Kligerman Barkley said in the August 2007 issue of AD. The rear façade features Janus et Cie chaises and tables, and Michael Taylor fabrics.

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AD, August 2004

 Photo: Susan Sheehan

A warm place to chill out

This Pierre Monsaingeon–designed Caribbean residence is “far from the island’s nervous energy,” as homeowner Liz Claiborne told AD in the August 2004 issue. The east terrace is used for sunbathing. A curved ocher wall formed from polished concrete screens the outdoor shower, and the area is dotted with various French pottery pieces.

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AD, May 2014

 Photo: Björn Wallander

An inspiring landscape

When designers Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper first visited the site where they would eventually build their home in the US Virgin Islands, they were immediately seduced by the views. The couple used mold- and mildew-resistant materials in their design, including local granite, silver travertine, Italian sandstone, and porcelain wall tile. “We wanted everything we used to be sympathetic with the landscape—nothing white or stucco,” Ingrao told AD in the May 2014 issue.

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AD, November 2007

 Photo: Durston Saylor

Ralph and Ricky Lauren’s sundrenched spot

Before Ralph and Ricky Lauren intervened, their Jamaica vacation house had “beautiful bones,” but “it wasn’t sunny or joyous,” as Lauren told AD in the magazine’s November 2007 issue. They took the dreary space and flooded it with natural materials, light colors, and comfortable furnishings. White right down to the marble floors, this poolside living area is the ideal example of their approach.

Image may contain Architecture Building Hotel Resort Summer Pool Water House Housing Villa and Swimming Pool

AD, May 2004

 Photo: Michael Calderwood

Extra room for entertaining

For this property in Punta Ixtapa, Mexico, which was featured in the May 2004 issue of AD, renowned architect Marco Aldaco’s client requested a place that would just as easily host 20 guests as it would just him and his wife. If this vast multi-level pool is any indication, Aldaco was definitely up to the task. As with many of his projects, he designed much of the furniture and artworks in this home, along with the buildings themselves—quite the undertaking for a property with 12,000 square feet of interior space.

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AD, April 2010

 Photo: Michael Calderwood

Modernism in the rainforest

Homeowner Derek Ferguson spent years acquiring acreage in Costa Rica before he was ready to build out his home in the middle of the forest. When it came time to do so, he eventually called in SPG Architects, whom he’d worked with on his New York apartment. Inspired by Ferguson’s love of Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, and other modernist architects, the team created a indoor/outdoor space that delightfully contrasts its locale. The finished product, featured in the April 2010 issue of AD, is powered entirely with solar power and nature’s water.

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AD, May 2012

Courtyard calm

Featured in the May 2012 issue of AD, interior designer Richard Mishaan’s Cartagena, Colombia, home is spread between two buildings centered around a central courtyard. The home’s previous owner kept a lush, tropical garden in the space, but what Mishaan envisioned was relatively understated. He got rid of the extra plants and brought in a couple of palm trees, redesigned the pool and fountain, and most ingeniously, covered up the stray noises from the street by adding a waterfall down a wall finished with marble-mosaic tile. Instead of the wild delight of an unruly garden, bedroom balconies gaze upon this beacon of tranquility.

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AD, April 2007

 Photo: Erhard Pfeiffer

Life atop the lava rock

The homeowners of this property on Hawaii’s Kohala coast “wanted the house to be of the land, of the site,” as the husband told AD in the April 2007 issue. In a wonderfully literal approach, architecture firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen set the three buildings on local lava rock, solidifying its connection to the land’s history. The pool was placed closest to the ocean view, appearing to almost extend out of the body of water.

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Source: ADPRO

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