OUR BOOKING PROCESS:
To book this house, please send me (Anni) a message through VRBO/HOMEAWAY with your reservation request along with any questions you have about the house or property. I will then send you our contract and payment instructions and I will book the house for you for your dates.
This tropical Bali dream house, located in Padanggalak, 3 miles north of Sanur, is what my husband Mel and I like to call our 'third child' (we also have 2 boys). Building on our cross-cultural marriage, we chose to blend the open-air feel and tropical materials of Mel's native Java with the exposed wood, open floor plan, and cathedral ceilings of the old barns of my native rural Massachusetts.
Before building, we'd spent years living in rented houses in Bali, so we were very clear what we did NOT want. We wanted to avoid the sort of villa you see all over the island that is built to look romantic - open-air, no doors, thatched roofed - but is in fact very impractical. Coming from New England where the winters are so rough, I'd always thought of the tropics as gentle, but those houses taught me that a tropical climate has its own hazards: bugs, dust, mosquitoes, ants, mold, gecko's, smoke from burning fields, and a very fast pace of decay. In the open houses, we couldn't keep nature out because there was no way to close in the space. Mosquitoes were abundant, the thatch would shed and smell, and the geckos living in the thatch would contribute their own fall-out. During the rainy season everything would get wet. And we'd essentially spent a good part of each day just cleaning up!
Armed with a concept and a list of things to avoid, we chose Balinese architect Ketut Arthana. Internationally recognized, Ketut has a reputation for optimizing and managing space. He instantly understood what we wanted. He set the ceilings high, like a barn's, but added variety to the roof-line by slightly lowering the kitchen roof and using the typically Balinese cross-hatched exposed rafters. He wasn't afraid to recommend tile over thatch for its strength, quality and ease of maintenance, and we found that by lining the under-side of the tile with basket-colored woven rattan, we were able to achieve the same soft, natural effect from inside as you get with thatch, but without the problems. Ketut placed giant sliding glass doors and windows around the perimeters of the entire house, offering light and an open-air feel during the day, but with the option of shutting out the bugs, wind, water and dust at night and during storms. Above these doors, Ketut added a ring of slim rectangular windows for ventilation and style.
Once the drawings were done, Ketut handed them over and we took charge. Mel oversaw the building process, and I made interior design decisions. Rather than focusing on making the house fit into a category (rustic, modern, contemporary…), I just did what I found beautiful. The result is a mix of many influences, including primitive and modern, old and new, raw and finished. I brought my love of Mexican color into my paint choices, and my appreciation for Shaker simplicity into my choice of old, strong, and simple wood furniture. I was very relieved when, in the end, it did in fact all come together.
Color is a major theme. The main living space has a soft cream terrazzo floor contrasting with two bold papaya-orange walls and another sailor blue wall. The ventilation windows hold circular coins of colored glass framed in teak, giving a warmth and flare to the entire space.The kitchen and bedroom floors are richly colored in traditional Dutch-style cement tiles. More color flows through the deep-set, vertical red, blue, green and yellow stained-glass windows along the stairs.
In contrast to the bright colors, raw materials ground the house in the natural and neutral, creating what architect Yew Kwan famously described as 'high-style primitive.' Raw teak trees frame the kitchen space and serve as pillars on the terrace; Y-shaped stripped coffee balusters and teak banisters form the railings along the stairs and balcony; large slate plates ringed with marble stones form a mosaic on the master bathroom wall; and worn gray river stones provide drainage where house meets land. A whimsical stone mosaic of tropical animals skirts the verandah.
Outside, the property is ringed with a mustard-yellow fence overflowing with red flowers. Verdant gardens border the walls. A rice-terraced-shaped pool fills one corner, while lush mango, palm and Frangipani trees create umbrellas against the sun. Ocean breezes blow in from the east, cooling the land and house, even in the hottest season.
And you can see the ocean from the house! That third floor room wasn't in the drawings, but one day, Mel was up on the rafters and he realized that from up there we could see the sea. We learned that it wouldn't cost much to raise up the roof and add an extra room, so we did. That room is a retreat, way up high, for meditation, yoga or writing - a place to be alone, or for young kids to play.
In recent years, Mel and I decided to move back to the US so our kids could get an education there. We have been renting the house out since then, but we return every year with our boys for a month to enjoy it ourselves and to repair and spruce up the house.
One renter described the house this way: "This house has a warmth and grace and artistry to it, but it is also a very livable house, peaceful and soothing, also fabulous for entertaining, and very convenient to Sanur, Denpasar and Ubud. 'Many happy memories were made in that house and we want to return again if we can."
Keywords: Convenient, close to beach, close to Sanur & Denpasar & Ubud, gardener included,, wi-fi internet connection, convenient 24-hr taxi service, artistic, soul-filling, spacious, breezy, cool, practical, oasis, fully equipped house, warm, open, kid-friendly, comfortable