Ahh, the holiday home...is there a more seductive concept? In a world where we are increasingly accessible, the freedom of having a place to do exactly as we please, only acknowledging the outside world if we feel like it, in a space both removed yet familiar, is a luxury to be taken seriously.

From legendary designer Jacques Grange's hidden beach hut in Portugal, to a writer's incredibly sweet eighteenth-century cottage in Dorset. Kick back, relax, and escape to these envy-inducing hideaways.

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    The Flight of Fancy

    If the aim of a holiday home is to create an environment that lifts one out of the mundane, few properties could do it better than the eighteenth-century folly of the designer Veere Grenney. 'Don't ask me what I was looking for in a second home,' he says. 'A house like this finds you, not the other way around.'

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden

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    The Flight of Fancy

    When I first moved here, it was quite primitive. Charming, but not comfortable,' says Veere. 'Of course, it was never meant to be lived in. So apart from the grand salon (pictured), which is the focal point of the house, the rest is rather small. The challenge with the decoration was to ensure that there was a balance between the two. It needed to be formal but comfortable.'

    This has been achieved through using an airy colour scheme and clever furniture choices. An 1810 Directoire chair faces an ottoman covered in velvet from Décor de Paris, while the wing chair is upholstered in 'Temple' fabric from Veere Grenney. The festoon blinds - made of Fox Linton satin and taffeta from Tissus d'Hélène - disguise the fact that the windows on one side of the room finish higher than those on the other.

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden

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    The Flight of Fancy

    Veere is only the latest in a line of stylish custodians. The house was saved from ruin by David Hicks in the Sixties. 'The setting is completely Arcadian, with the Suffolk countryside in one direction, and views along a canal in the other.

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden

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    The Flight of Fancy

    'In the main bedroom, there is only room for a bed, but one way to make a room like this seem bigger is to select a compact four-poster. It creates a feeling of grandeur and makes the proportions of the room seem larger.'

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden

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    The Flight of Fancy

    'It is a property that was built solely for pleasure,' says Veere, 'and that is a tradition I intend to uphold.'

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    Decorated by Paolo Moschino, the owners of this cottage bought the house 35 years ago, although they had known it for much longer. In a fabulous position, tucked into the lee of a small promontory, sitting just above one end of a perfect bay on the north Cornwall coast, it was built as a fisherman's cottage.

    When the story begins it belonged to a family with three daughters, 'I knew the cottage through my mother who used to come here with the sisters when she was young,' says the owner 'when they decided to sell, we asked if we could buy it.'

    Windows at the rear of the house on the ground floor look on to a garden scooped out of the low hillside that protects it from the worst of the weather, its sides reinforced with the thin slabs of slate so characteristic of Cornish architecture.

    Windows at the side of the house look across the lawn and a low wall to sand, rocks, and water. Upstairs, the views are spectacular, especially from the main bedroom, where sea and sky fill the windows.

    'The sea is never the same,' says one of the owners. 'It changes colour and mood almost by the hour. The garden is so sheltered that we can sit outside even in winter, but when there is a storm, the sea-spray mists the windows and the lawn is white with foam.'

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    'My brief was to make the cottage as special as possible,' says Paolo. 'It needed to be bigger, lighter, fresh and a little bit modern.'

    The colour scheme for the whole house plays on crisp, nautical combinations of blue and white, and gives the interiors a continuity that contributes to the sense of spaciousness. The theme is carried through in decorative details. These fossils, bought locally, are dotted around the drawing room, which has its original chimneypiece.

    Taken from the August 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    Stripes abound in the wood-panelled sitting area, including an armchair covered in gold-and-cream 'Extralarge' fabric from Dedar and a coffee table covered in 'Chevron' from Abbott & Boyd.

    Taken from the August 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    In the entrance hall the striped rug was bought in Morocco, while an armchair is covered in 'Ashbury Stripe' from Turnell & Gigon.

    Taken from the August 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    Paolo took his cue for the decoration from the sea, and had the subtle navy blue of the panelling in the dining area specially mixed to match the inscrutable blue of the water in winter. A collection of old pitchers is displayed on the table.

    Taken from the August 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    A nineteenth-century bust, brought from the owners' former house in Cornwall, overlooks the staircase, while porcelain scallop shells found in Italy hang opposite.

    Taken from the August 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    In the main bedroom, the portrait of Lord Robert Manners is part of the owners' collection of nineteenth-century prints.

    Taken from the August 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    A Cornish seaside cottage

    In this spare room, the striped walls are in colours custom-mixed by paint specialist Dawn Reader.

    Taken from the August 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    The all-weather Alpine chalet

    Well placed for sun in the summer, skiing in the winter, and with spectacular views over Mont Blanc, the holiday home of interior designer Lionel Jadot in Megève, France is the ultimate year-round escape.

    Demonstrating a modern, eco-conscious approach to chalet design, the house 'is made from reclaimed and local materials,' he says. 'The water is plumbed from a natural source, and we also have solar panels which provide electricity. We use a little gas in the deep winter months, but otherwise we are self-sufficient.'

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    The all-weather Alpine chalet

    Lionel went for an East-meets-West approach to the building's construction and decoration. It is arranged over two levels, with huge eight-metre-high ceilings, and the bedrooms on the ground floor.

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    The all-weather Alpine chalet

    The decoration combines the rusticity of an Alpine cabin with a bohemian mix of colourful furniture and objects collected from Lionel's trips through Asia.

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    The all-weather Alpine chalet

    In the kitchen, glass mosaic Bisazza Vetricolor tiles cover the units, and a cooker hood designed by Lionel - made out of a motor engine - is suspended from the ceiling.

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    The all-weather Alpine chalet

    A cosy, intimate space has been created in a boxed-off sitting room, almost like a small house within a house.

    Taken from the September 2013 issue of House & Garden.

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    The Greek island escape

    'The sense of serenity I felt when I arrived on Lesvos was extremely powerful,' says Claire. This terrace from the bedroom looks out over the sea.

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    The Greek island escape

    'It felt as if someone was living in the house when we first moved in - it was full of things, from old blankets and cooking utensils, to family photographs and a child's doll. I have kept as much as I could, particularly the fabrics. Throughout the house was this vivid turquoise - the colour of the sea and sky, which we decided to keep.'

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    The Greek island escape

    Freshly picked lilac from the garden decorates a shelf.

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    The Greek island escape

    The finished house is beautiful - chaste and so plain that anything decorative, whether a tin mug brimming with flowers or a mottled feather, acquires the status of a work of art.

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    The Greek island escape

    'My feeling of connection to the island only grows over the hours and days. Creativity suffuses everyday life in the village - the people are constantly making lace, painting, planting flowers, baking and drying herbs. It is a very self-sufficient society - a way of life that has worked for thousands of years. I often think we could learn a lot from them.'

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    The Greek island escape

    Claire's partner Matthew enlisted the help of his childhood friend, artist Marcus Browne, and set to work transforming the worn, jumbled interior into a series of white spaces, washed with sunlight and sparsely furnished with pieces found, mended and made.

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    The Greek island escape

    'Mark made the bed, and found the coat hooks at the tip. The joy of life here is having the time to learn to make many of the things we need.When we first came to look at the house we got very excited about the different fabrics that had been left lying around in piles and inside chests. Particularly the handmade crochet pieces. I've kept and used them throughout the house.'

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    The Greek island escape

    'We paired back the house, painting everything white with occasional touches of the original turquoise, to bring out the simple beauty of each detail. Even the most ordinary object - a stone, a shell, a pair of sandals are worthy of our attention. Nothing is wasted, even scraps of wood can be turned into art.'

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    The Greek island escape

    A table made by Matthew sits below one of his paintings.

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    The Greek island escape

    Claire works at her desk that looks out over the garden. A patterned curtain conceals storage.

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    The Greek island escape

    The meditation room is simply furnished with a white daybed. Pink cushions give an accent of colour.

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    The Greek island escape

    The simple white bathroom is given interest with pretty details; the fabric curtain under the sink, the glass beaded light, and a cross made from driftwood.

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    The Greek island escape

    Buying a property proved surprisingly uncomplicated. Claire engaged a local estate agent and word of mouth soon turned up a house for sale, known as Papa's Spiti after its previous occupant, 'papa' meaning priest and 'spiti' house.

    'We bought it from his son Gabriel,' says Claire. 'When we first went to look at the house Gabriel opened the gates on to a long forgotten secret garden. It was quite wild and had been left to fend for itself for some time. Vines had wrapped like webs around the trunks of gnarly old trees.

    'The garden has two mature olive trees, a walnut tree, and an enourmous fig that now gives us an abundance of fresh fruit each August. There's a huge old almond tree that provides shelter from the sun, and a small neat tree that produces miniature plums every June. Along with all these delights are long established roses, lilacs, lilies and bearded irises.'

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    The Greek island escape

    According to Claire, this powerful urge for a change of scene was set in motion almost on a whim. 'I was complaining about a loss of creativity and a friend showed me a picture of a holiday house she had bought on Lesvos. I loved the look of it and decided to see the island for myself. Another friend, Domenica More Gordon, agreed to come along, and that is how it began.

    'We stayed in Molyvos, a port overlooked by a Byzantine castle, and came across our village as the result of a detour. Wandering down the narrow, paved streets to the platia, where the men of the village were gathered under a huge plane tree, we were welcomed into the kafeneio by Ralitza, who is now one of my closest village friends, and presented with a series of delicious Greek dishes. It may sound unlikely, but I already felt that I had found my new home.'

    Lesvos is the third largest of the Greek islands, its granite shoulders almost nudging the Turkish coast, its steep, rocky slopes dark with pine, chestnut, wild oak and olive groves. Birthplace of Sappho, visited by Aristotle, who began his zoological investigations on the shores of the huge lagoon that expands inland from the sea in a balloon of sparkling seawater, it is sparsely populated and unspoilt.

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    The Greek island escape

    Australian author, photographer and designer Claire Lloyd and her British partner, artist Matthew Usmar Lauder, ditched the London arts scene in 2007. In search of a simpler life they moved to a small village on the Greek island of Lesvos, and since have been living the proverbial dream - give or take the odd dip back into city society in London and Sydney for work.

    Now running a small guest house from their gorgeous white-washed home they have become part of the local community. Claire has written a book about her new life, My Greek Island Home, filled with sumptuous photography of the village, and recipes given to her by her neighbours.

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    The writer's home from home

    'This is really my home,' says writer and former House & Garden features editor Christopher Stocks, of his eighteenth-century cottage overlooking Chesil Beach in Dorset. 'I live and work in London during the week, but I rent my flat there, while this cottage is my own.'

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    The writer's home from home

    'We have a garden planted with herbaceous perennials, which die down in winter to avoid the worst of the coastal storms. A small outdoor space can be an advantage - as it is so stuffed with plants, there isn't room for weeds.'

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    The writer's home from home

    'For anyone thinking of investing in a weekend house, I would say that sometimes going for a smaller property, with neighbours close by, can be liberating,' says Christopher. 'There is less cleaning to do, and it means you will always have someone to keep an eye on your house when you aren't there.'

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    The writer's home from home

    'Luckily the place had been owned by a mason, so the panelling and floors had been nicely preserved,' says Christopher. The decoration is an appealing combination of antique and flea-market finds, with modern fabrics and pockets of zingy colour. 'I didn't want it to look too twee.'

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    The writer's home from home

    Christopher has created a relaxed house with all the comforts and amenities of a full-time home. 'It is very low maintenance. I could arrive with no notice or preparation and stay for two days, or a month. I always keep a loaf of bread and some milk in the freezer in case I turn up late at night.'

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    The interior designer's beach hideaway

    French decorator Jacques Grange still clearly remembers his first trip to Portugal in the early Seventies. He went to visit a quinta near Sintra and discovered a country almost lost in time. 'It was like being back in the nineteenth century,' he recalls. 'The roads were deserted. You felt you were alone.'

    Several years later, he had the chance to buy a property behind the dunes. It consisted of four huts, at the end of a dirt road. Each was outlined in vibrant white - a distinctive feature of local buildings. To echo the untamed setting, Jacques asked the Paris-based landscape architect Louis Benech to devise a garden that would look extremely natural. 'The idea was to plant lines of trees to block out both the view and the wind.'

    There are umbrella pines, evergreen oaks, eucalyptus trees and little tufts of sea thrift arranged in a strict grid pattern. There is also an orchard with apple, quince, pear and apricot trees, an arbour cloaked in vines and a vibrant flower garden hidden away behind the garage.

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    The interior designer's beach hideaway

    For the interiors, Jacques decided to keep things unfussy, with furnishings of varied provenance. The straw that had been in the sitting room inspired several naturalistic touches. The carpet comes from southern Morocco, and African fabrics were used for the cushions. There is also a long teak table from Bali, at which Pierre likes to paint and draw.

    In the main bedroom are two collages by the late Yves Saint Laurent - one of Jacques's most steadfast clients - and a pair of chairs from a famous Art-Deco villa in Marrakesh called the Villa Taylor, which was completed in 1926 and played host to luminaries such as Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and Rita Hayworth.

    Jacques has also integrated some vernacular touches. Lattice panels of the cupboards in the kitchen, were copied from a design he saw in the sacristy of the Sintra Palace. Elsewhere are small groupings of slightly kitsch nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramics.

    Taken from the September 2010 issue of House & Garden.

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    The interior designer's beach hideaway

    'I don't dream of the Hamptons or Saint-Tropez,' he says. 'My idea of happiness is quite the opposite - to be out of reach, without a telephone and with no news of the world. There's a comfortable simplicity here,' says Jacques, whose clients include Princess Caroline of Monaco and the fashion designer Valentino and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti. 'I have an apartment in Paris, which is quite sophisticated, and the idea was to create something quite different.'

    In recent years, the region has seen an influx of other fashionable folk, such as photographer Mario Testino and shoe designer Christian Louboutin. German artist Anselm Kiefer at one point also announced his intention to set up a cultural centre nearby. Still, Jacques is the first to admit it's not everyone's cup of tea. 'There are those who can't stand it!' he states. 'There's nothing here. It freaks them out. But for me, it's like heaven.'

    Taken from the September 2010 issue of House & Garden.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

    The English owners of this picture-perfect beach house, Villa Isabelle, on Cap Ferret, near Bordeaux, had been holidaying on the peninsula for 10 years or so, casting the odd casual glance in the estate agent's window, but little more. Out of the blue, they got a call to say this house was for sale and they went the very next weekend, saw it on Saturday and signed for it on Sunday.

    'It was in an unspeakable state; it was as if it had been camped in rather than lived in, with only one bathroom and bare wires hanging down the walls,' says one of the owners. It was also rotten. 'You could stick your fingers through the walls in some places, and every window had to be replaced.' But it was a house that everyone knew. Old pictures of it, when it was in its prime, had appeared in books on the Cap, and it was in the perfect position, its garden leading directly on to the owners' favourite beach.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

    The owners wanted a more open feel to the living spaces. 'Our feeling was that you should be able to see the whole space right through from one side of the house to the other - the house needed the drama of a big space.'

    Now, you enter into a large hall-like area with views, via double doors, to the sea. 'It is always difficult, when planning houses, for clients to accept rooms that are doing nothing, but generous nothingness is exactly what holidays are about,' Jonathan says, and this luxury of space certainly has wow factor and a feeling of airy relaxation.

    A sofa, virtually the only piece of furniture, is dramatically strung from the ceiling on thick chandler's rope - an idea of Jonathan's, 'to make it seem like a daybed that rocks in the breeze'.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

    A sitting room leads off to the right, and a staircase to the left, both separated by a timber claire-voie screen - a striking device that cleverly maintains the transparency between the spaces while creating a sense of enclosure and allowing each 'room' to have its own identity.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

    It needed to age well, hence the rough bandsawn finish of both the kitchen units and the floor. It could not be simpler in many ways, yet it is totally bespoke; in the pantry, which opens off the kitchen, there are special sloping shelves designed to hold crates of fresh peaches from the market, and boxes lined with linen that can store up to 10 loaves of bread. Jonathan has added light-hearted touches such as the clock hanging from the kitchen ceiling and the way the floorboards appear to climb up the wall, giving the impression of a tidemark.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

    Opening out beyond the staircase is a large, light kitchen and dining area. 'The owners gave us a very clear sense of how their holidays worked and we knew there needed to be space for mountains of seafood to arrive and for everyone to join in preparing it,' says Jonathan.

    So the long kitchen island has the quality of a seafood bar, as much as that of a kitchen work surface, enabling everyone to gather round. The kitchen, handmade by Devon-based furniture maker James Verner, was designed to be robust and forgiving of holiday life and sandy feet. 'Hinges are exposed and the drawers are oak boxes in an oak frame; there are no soft-closing drawers,' Jonathan points out.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

    A concealed wardrobe with a sliding door is perfect for smaller bedrooms, where traditional hinged doors can cause an obstruction to walkways. The lights are from Emery et Cie.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

    Painted timber floors and walls trimmed with timber detailing set a beachy tone in the bedrooms.

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    Cap Ferret Beach House

  • Summer House & Holiday ttage Derating Ideas

    Cap Ferret Beach House

  • Summer House & Holiday ttage Derating Ideas

    Cap Ferret Beach House

    The house had been badly messed about but the couple found a local architect and builder, Guy Allemand, who could help them restore it to something closer to its former self, while also bringing it up to date for modern, beachside living.

    Guy started by removing the clumsy-looking terrace that had been added to the upper level, replacing it with something closer to that shown in old photographs, and incorporated part of the lower terrace into the house to create the sitting room. He also repainted the outside of the house in a summery palette.

    London-based architect and designer Jonathan Tuckey was then enlisted to add the final touches. This veranda was designed to be the main dining space of the house. 'This was an ideal spot because it leads from the kitchen and has a wonderful view,' he says. Below reclaimed pendant lights from Retrouvius, the 4.3-metre-long table is set before a built-in bench.

    'Because the table is so long we wanted to avoid the clutter - both visually and physically - of having 12 chairs, which would have left little space. The owners wanted to make sure they could seat large numbers of people, and a bench allows guests to squash up to add extra places.'

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    Bamboo House Mustique

    Perched on a hill, the house and garden make the most of the island's lush vegetation, with a stairway that leads down to the outdoor dining area by Gelliceaux Bay beach.

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    Bamboo House Mustique

    On the Caribbean island of Mustique, interior designer Veere Grenney has redesigned a bamboo house that is a study in neutrals and natural materials, set off by the green of the palms outside and the glorious blue of the ocean.

    Mustique, in the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines group of Caribbean islands, is just 2.2 square miles, yet it exerts a fascination far beyond its size. The 3rd Baron Glenconner, ColinTennant, who bought the island in 1958 for £45,000, had hoped to grow cotton there. When that plan failed, he decided to make it into an exclusive holiday setting for his friends and divided the island into 120 plots. In 1960, in a brilliant PR coup, he gave the first 10-acre site to his friend Princess Margaret. Her home, Les Jolies Eaux, was decorated in a cosy, Home Counties Peter Jones style, but since then, the island has attracted the mega rich, some of whom look on a plot as their chance to build a fantasy home in the shape of a Roman palazzo, a Japanese temple or a high-tech, futuristic box

    The main building - two separate side pavilions house the main bedroom, spare rooms and children's rooms - includes the great room, a magnificent living space at the top of the house. At 15 metres long, it is a combined sitting and dining area, its walls and pitched ceiling completely re-clad in 10cm-diameter cured bamboo stalks. It is open to the elements on four sides, so sea breezes keep it cool, although storm windows are stored in cupboards for when bad weather threatens. The room faces west and gets beautiful afternoon light and a grandstand view of the daily extravaganza of the Caribbean sunset.

    The coffee tables and side cabinets were designed by Veere Grenney Associates and made by Lincoln Cato, and Soane made replicas of one of the original shell sconces for the walls. Rush matting was laid on the sustainable sapele wood floors and Veere asked Raoul Textiles to recolour its huge palm-leaf design 'Exoticus' in bamboo shades for the sofa covers.

    See the whole house here.

    In the main building, the 15-metre-long, open-plan sitting and dining room is decorated in similar neutral hues to the bamboo.

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    Bamboo House Mustique

    Interior designer Veere Grenney knows Mustique well, and had already designed half a dozen homes for this client before he bought one of the island's most unusual houses in 2007. Veere describes it as 'a beach folly, a little Robinson Crusoe bamboo paradise'.

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    Bamboo House Mustique

    When Veere and his team first encountered the house in 2008, a tropical storm had ripped off some of the roofing and caused a cliff fall below the house. They walked into the main building to discover the original Serge Roche standard lamps encrusted with debris and dust, the shell wall lights wrecked and the bamboo wallcovering looking shabby.

    The main bedroom, in a pavilion, has a bed from Soane.

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    Bamboo House Mustique

    The blue of the sky and sea and the vivid green of the lush vegetation are the only colours allowed in the house. Plants surround a new space down at sea level, too, where there is an outdoor covered dining area with a small kitchen and shower, and a perfect spot for sunbathing. From here, you can dive or flop straight into the blue water of Gelliceaux Bay beach.

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    Bamboo House Mustique

    The outdoor dining area has a picnic-style table and benches made from cast concrete.

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