The Treasures of Villa Elia

by Sep 12, 2021Discover

Villa Elia is perched on a cliff top near Treasure Beach with uninterrupted views of Jamaica’s rugged south coast. Shimon and Elia Finkelstein found the property by luck. They had put an offer on a property three houses away when their agent contacted them with news of an upcoming listing not yet on the market. Drawn by the magnificent views, they quickly changed their minds, withdrew their first offer and bought the rundown house that then stood on the plot.

Throughout the interior, the floors are the same painted concrete, creating a visual continuity. The floors were challenging to get right but by the eighth attempt the owners were finally satisfied.

Shimon owns and runs Artemano, an interiors store with 15 branches across Canada specialising in contemporary, exotic and solid wood furniture. The philosophy of Artemano is to create atmospheres. Inspiration comes from distant lands such as India, Indonesia and Thailand and this project was an incredible opportunity to realise a vision based on knowledge and tastes. Attention to detail and to the nature around them played a large part in the results.

Two further guest rooms lead off the main living space and share a bathroom which also has an outside shower.

They were introduced to Jeremy Milligan, an architect from Kingston, and there was an immediate connection. The original property was gutted and the imposing double-height space was added. Their intention was to create a magical escape and for every room and every corner, the details were planned with this in mind.

The frame of Villa Elia is made of a neutral colour scheme, from the floors, walls and ceilings, which then helps explain the main attraction — the ocean and the elements.

Leading straight from the main space is an extensive terrace, furnished with a mix of stools, chairs, beds and hanging chairs, in which to soak up the view in total comfort. A spiral staircase leads to the roof terrace.

It was imperative for Elia (the villa is named after her) and Shimon to be able to see the ocean from the moment they opened the front door. Motivated by their many trips to Asia and their interest in Eastern culture, they fused together the natural surrounding elements to create an alluring entrance. The small ponds on either side provide a positive and peaceful detail, perhaps influenced by the Arawaks, one of the first people of Jamaica who called the island Xaymaca: Land of Wood and Water.

Access to the beach is by way of a rustic-style staircase that bends rather than descends in a straight line, broken up halfway by a gazebo which, like the terrace above it, makes good use of the local fish pot sticks.

The gardens are planted with architectural-style plants that can withstand the almost desert-like conditions that prevail there for part of the year. Ceramic pots of all shapes and sizes are placed around the house. Their curvaceous form softens the lines of the building.

Initially, this was not included in the design but when they discussed watching the sunset it was obvious that the best place to watch it from would be the roof.

Written on the walls of all the Artemano stores is Shimon’s mantra, the words from the song Anthem, by the late Leonard Cohen: “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’’

The play of light at Villa Elia reflects balance, harmony and relaxation. The wood is unique and all its subtle irregularities celebrate the magic of the imperfections of a life well lived. Shimon and Elia’s home is an escape, a retreat, a refuge, a place of inspiration in which to contemplate, unwind and let the light in.

Writer & Photography: Sophie Munro

Courtesy: MACO Caribbean Living


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