A dream house

There is nothing more appealing to me than the idea of living in tropical place somewhere out there in the world, feeling the breeze of the ocean 24 hours a day and having my kids growing outdoors. A place where small things such as watching the sunset and family values are still appreciated. A place where kids can grow playing without tv and video games and by eating local-grown food. So where is that place?

While I was doing some research on beach houses I run into this home in Bali. The lucky owners are John and Cynthia Hardy who arrived in Bali three decades ago as hippie travelers. Now, along with their two daughters, Chiara and Carina, they’re living in a home of open-air rooms and play spaces among the trees. Sounds like a dream…

The Hardys’ living room has a classically Indonesian look, with a casual mix of antique Javanese furniture, whose sturdiness stands up to wear and tear from the elements (and the girls).

After meals, the girls and their mom often sit together on the antique Chinese wedding bed, which stands in one corner of the ground floor.

A staircase of reclaimed wood leads to the master bedroom and office on the second floor. The house’s supporting columns are ironwood electrical poles, salvaged by the Hardys when the local utility company upgraded to concrete.

In the master bedroom, the couple hung a mosquito net and two fabric panels from the ceiling to create a sense of privacy while preserving the open, airy look.

Chiara’s bathroom has an unusual design, with curving walls made from panels of translucent rubberized cotton, a brass sink atop a teak counter, and shower curtains made of saris.

Given the chance to design their own spaces, both girls chose canopy-enclosed round beds like the one shown here, in Chiara’s bedroom. They fill their windowsills with souvenirs from their travels, including sand paintings from Dubai and matryoshka dolls from Russia.

Carina sits in her favorite seat, a beeswax cage chair that her dad designed for her room. “It smells like honey,” she says. “And if you’re on the phone and have a lot of friends in the room, you can spin around so they can’t hear your conversation.”

Chiara hangs around in a yoga swing near the dining space. The small koi pond below flows right through the house to the yard, and the kids paddle in and out in wooden canoes.

The Hardys had a tower built for their daughters. “The girls liked it so much, they moved in before it was done,” says John. To get to the main house, Carina and Chiara cross a bridge or tiptoe on stepping stones over a pond. “It’s a balancing act,” says Cynthia, “especially when they’re still sleepy.”

The full article:

Two years ago, John and Cynthia Hardy did what many parents do when their growing kids require a little extra space: They built an addition. But the solution these Bali, Indonesia–based expats came up with was far from typical. Their daughters—Carina and Chiara—traded in their shared bedroom in the family’s home outside of Ubud for a five-story thatch-roofed pagoda of their own, complete with its own little moat. “It’s a storybook fantasy,” says Cynthia.

A love of the fantastical has always driven the couple, who run the global jewelry company John Hardy, known for its elaborate, Indonesian-inspired silver pieces that sell at Neiman Marcus and Saks. John and Cynthia came to the island a few decades ago, separately and impulsively, and never left (John, who’s Canadian, was on a post-college trip; Cynthia came from California, she says, to “avoid going to law school”). In 1989, after learning silversmithing from local artisans, John launched his business.
When the two married, in 1993, they knew Bali was where they wanted to raise children. “We like that it’s a very child-centric culture,” says John. “The Balinese are inclusive with kids; they’ll talk about anything in front of them.” Asked if they ever plan to go home—a question they still get often—the couple look baffled. “Oh, no, this is our home,” says Cynthia.
Living in a traditional culture has allowed the Hardys to raise their children in an old-fashioned way. “There’s a lot of family time,” says Cynthia. The girls, who attend a local school, spend afternoons biking with their parents, visiting the Hardy workshop, or doing yoga; at night, they’ll often watch a video of The Waltons (yes, from the 1970s) together. The children’s tower, as it has come to be known, is where Chiara and Carina go to get pure kid time. As much about engaging their “sense of independence and imagination” as it is about extra square footage, according to Cynthia, the pagoda houses the girls’ bedrooms and open-air play spaces where they often paint or have tea parties.
A separate tower for two kids is certainly a luxury, but the structure itself is humble. It was built with sustainability in mind, out of salvaged teak and grass thatch. The main house, designed by the couple with the help of an architect in the mid-’90s, is equally eco-friendly, made from recycled ironwood electrical poles, bamboo, and dried mud. Chunky antiques and reclaimed-wood pieces fill the living spaces—nothing too precious for the gaggles of kids who often skitter between the house and the tower.
Occasionally, a bird makes an appearance in the buildings, too. Both structures, like so many in Bali, are largely open to the elements (though several rooms have windows to keep out critters and rain), and only the bathrooms have walls (and even those are translucent). The lack of enclosure may prove trickier when the girls reach the privacy-obsessed teenage years, but for now, it’s perfect. “There was a lot of conversation about whether to have walls,” says John. In the end, they decided to hang curtains throughout the spaces instead: “It creates flexibility. If you want privacy, you close the curtains. You can’t open a wall.” Plus, the design makes for uninterrupted views of the coconut-palm forest outside.
Though it may sound as if the Hardys live in blissed-out Shangri-la, they do make sure to expose their kids to the world beyond Bali. The needs of the business and the pull of friends and family often bring them to New York City, where they have an apartment (Chiara and Carina especially love roller-skating through Central Park), and they’ve traveled to all but two continents together. Still, the couple are putting down even stronger roots at home. They recently founded the Kul-Kul School, a progressive pre-K-to-10th-grade institution, which the girls will attend when it opens next fall. Their reason for giving back to the community, says John, is obvious: “Bali has been very good to us.” (source cookiemag)

John is a successful jewelry design and probably that way was able to afford such a lifestyle (see his work here). But how can we get there? A sustainable home by the ocean, a magical place for your kids to grow up, a vacation apartment in NY, plus lots of traveling around the world – that sounds just about perfect to me… What about you? What is your dream home?

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