LIV­ING

THE ABIL­ITY TO BALANCE THE STRESSES OF THE MODERN UR­BAN BUS­TLE WITH THE SOOTH­ING STROKES OF BALMY OCEAN BREEZES AND ABAN­DONED BEACHES IS THE BE­DROCK UPON WHICH THE ART OF LIV­ING HAS GROWN INTO A WORLD­WIDE MOVE­MENT

Toyota Connect/Lexus Life - - CONTENTS -

The art of liv­ing, is­land-style

Just off the east coast of Mau­ri­tius, prop­erty de­vel­oper Ta­tiana Schaub has cre­ated an idyl­lic is­land home that of­fers the per­fect an­ti­dote to her busy life in Paris. But how she ever man­ages to leave her mag­nif­i­cent Mau­ri­tian idyll, L’ilot, and re­turn to her life in France is be­yond us!

First there’s the re­mark­able is­land site, with sole ac­cess via a nar­row bridge which af­fords ab­so­lute pri­vacy and a feel­ing of be­ing adrift at sea. Then there’s the house it­self, a wood-and­stone bare­foot luxe af­fair that hun­kers down on a bed of vol­canic stone, sur­rounded by nat­u­ral rock pools and a fringe of palm and pine trees. But the jewel in the crown must surely be the se­duc­tive se­quence of In­dian Ocean views that vie for your at­ten­tion through ev­ery win­dow, door and room.

A DIF­FER­ENT KIND OF REAL

“Down-to-earth, yet lux­u­ri­ous” is the only way to sum up this place. Ta­tiana’s en­sured that ev­ery com­fort and con­ve­nience nec­es­sary for ut­ter re­lax­ation is on hand, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing that most es­sen­tial of hol­i­day in­gre­di­ents: an al­tered re­al­ity.

Here daily rou­tines re­volve around reg­u­lar dips in the sea, read­ing, lunch on the ve­ran­dah and oblig­a­tory af­ter­noon snoozes. “I can be here for an en­tire week with­out cross­ing the bridge once,” says Ta­tiana. “Ali, the fish­er­man, brings lob­ster and fresh fish daily and Teeram, who sells the most de­li­cious ro­tis, is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor on his bike. My house­keeper brings what­ever else I may need, such as fresh bread and vegeta­bles.”

Orig­i­nally built as a garçon­nière (a bach­e­lor’s res­i­dence), L’ilot has been in Ta­tiana’s fam­ily for more than 30 years. It orig­i­nally be­longed to her un­cle, who had a brood of eight chil­dren, with whom Ta­tiana spent many a school hol­i­day. “I have won­der­ful mem­o­ries of leisurely Christ­mas lunches at long ta­bles un­der the trees, where my un­cle per­formed var­i­ous op­er­atic songs while we kids caught crabs and big­orneaux [peri­win­kles] on the rocks for fish soup,” she re­calls.

A DEEP, WIDE HIS­TORY

Back then, houses at the sea didn’t come with the crea­ture com­forts they do to­day. “Mau­ri­tian peo­ple used to call them campe­ments be­cause, at that time, most peo­ple lived on the higher part of the is­land and lit­er­ally camped out here on week­ends,” says Ta­tiana. “In fact, L’ilot was a very sim­ple place then, its claim to fame be­ing a noisy gen­er­a­tor that could be heard in nearby Roches Noires!”

Born in Mau­ri­tius to a French aris­to­cratic mother and a Rus­sian ar­chi­tect fa­ther who de­signed many of the is­land’s first ho­tels, she grew up in a large, wooden mai­son cre­ole house fur­nished in the com­pag­nie des in­des style, so she has more than a pass­ing in­ter­est in de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture. Trained as an en­gi­neer and now work­ing in real es­tate in­vest­ment, she’s spent much of her life be­tween Paris and Mau­ri­tius. “I was schooled in Paris and built up my ca­reer in real es­tate in­vest­ment there, but I’ve come back to Mau­ri­tius as of­ten as pos­si­ble. It’s al­ways been a pow­er­ful an­ti­dote to my life in France,” she says.

1. A view to re­mem­ber – the deck at the front of the house ex­tends just about the length of the islet and is a great place for so­cial gath­er­ings and lazy af­ter­noon snoozes. 2. Pen­dant lights and out­door fur­ni­ture were brought in from France, while ev­ery­thing else was de­signed by lo­cal in­te­rior decorator Amelie Mon­toc­chio and made lo­cally. 3. Ta­tiana used wood for deck­ing, walls and in fur­ni­ture be­cause of its abil­ity to age well. 4. Ta­tiana in­stalled bam­boo blinds through­out to shield the in­te­rior from sun­light and on-shore winds at dif­fer­ent times of day. “I didn’t want the house to feel shut out against the el­e­ments and the blinds are great, as they cre­ate pri­vacy, shade and shel­ter,” she says.

Her dream of com­mut­ing be­tween the two be­came a re­al­ity 17 years ago, when the op­por­tu­nity arose to buy the house from her cousin. “My over­rid­ing de­sire was to cre­ate a beach house with a firm con­nec­tion to its lo­ca­tion and to the el­e­ments. I loved the sim­plic­ity of L’ilot when I was a child, so I wasn’t af­ter a so­phis­ti­cated look as much as a mix of nat­u­ral and rough ma­te­ri­als of good qual­ity that would age well in a sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate prone to cy­clones!” Quite a feat, con­sid­er­ing that the pre­vi­ous house had been re­con­structed at least three or four times due to cy­clone dam­age.

But Ta­tiana and her lo­cal ar­chi­tect, Edouard Koenig and Paris-based ar­chi­tect Gabriel Gue­noun, tack­led that head on. “We raised the foun­da­tions of the house to a high-tide level that sur­passed pre­vi­ous cy­clones by bring­ing in 35 tons of sand.

Yes, we’re prob­a­bly tempt­ing fate,” she laughs, “but it was re­ally more of a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure – the only real risk is the bridge, as it’s been washed away count­less times.”

BUILT CY­CLONE-STRONG

All that re­mains of the old house now is a solid four-wall base in which you’ll find the liv­ing room. “We de­mol­ished ev­ery­thing else, but de­cided to keep this, as it was the heart of the orig­i­nal home,” ex­plains Ta­tiana, “and be­cause the 65-year-old walls made of thick rock were still in good con­di­tion.”

All the more re­mark­able when you con­sider that sub­se­quent add-ons, such as a ve­ran­dah and a sec­ond storey made of wood, were all de­stroyed. “One year we even found a fridge on top of a tree!”

“MY OVER­RID­ING DE­SIRE WAS TO CRE­ATE A BEACH HOUSE WITH A FIRM CON­NEC­TION TO ITS LO­CA­TION AND TO THE EL­E­MENTS.”

“WE RAISED THE FOUN­DA­TIONS OF THE HOUSE TO A HIGH-TIDE LEVEL THAT SUR­PASSED PRE­VI­OUS CY­CLONES BY BRING­ING IN 35 TONS OF SAND.”

When it came to the fin­ishes, flow and re­quire­ments of the new space, Ta­tiana’s brief was chal­leng­ing and her de­ci­sions of­ten con­trary to the ad­vice of her ar­chi­tects. “I love nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and the way they change over time, so in­stead of plas­tic or alu­minium, I in­sisted on nat­u­ral wood for the door and win­dow frames.” And as she wanted a con­crete fin­ish for the ex­te­rior walls, to ground the house with its nat­u­ral sur­round­ings, she tracked down a spe­cial “blue” rock not com­monly used in Mau­ri­tius. “It’s ac­tu­ally found in­side much larger rocks in the sugar cane fields, which were lit­er­ally cut on site by the work­men.”

Sadly, the nec­es­sary tech­niques for con­crete fin­ishes weren’t well known in Mau­ri­tius at the time and Ta­tiana had to com­pro­mise on her de­sire for more con­crete fin­ishes in­doors. Not one to give up eas­ily, she per­se­vered with her idea of white con­crete floors through­out, even when they had to be re­done three months later. “It was quite a bat­tle – so much so that I even­tu­ally gave in and laid tiles in the kitchen,” she says.

NAT­U­RAL COLOURS AND STYLES

An­other re­quire­ment of Ta­tiana’s was that all trees re­mained un­touched dur­ing the con­struc­tion pe­riod. “There are very few plants that can grow here, so their sur­vival in such an ag­gres­sive en­vi­ron­ment – they lit­er­ally grew on a bed of rock – made them pre­cious to me.”

The dec­o­ra­tion of the house, mar­ry­ing lo­cal crafts­man­ship with im­ported de­signs, is just as con­sid­ered. Ta­tiana worked with lo­cal in­te­rior decorator Amelie Mon­toc­chio, who de­signed all the fixed pieces of fur­ni­ture in the house.

“She im­me­di­ately un­der­stood my love of nat­u­ral colours and un­der­stated style,” she re­calls.

“When we first met, we’d both pre­pared a book of el­e­ments and ideas that we liked – and they were vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal!”

Through­out the house, Ta­tiana’s re­mained true to her de­sire for un­der­stated sim­plic­ity by blend­ing child­hood mem­o­ries (old fam­ily pho­tographs) and her love of the nat­u­ral world (stones, wood and shells picked up on her trav­els) with a sharp style (Philippe Starck chairs and Dri­ade lights) that com­ple­ments, rather than de­tracts from the beauty ly­ing be­yond L’ilot’s doorstep.

“As the house is avail­able for ren­tals, I wanted to cre­ate a down-to-earth, yet lux­u­ri­ous space for oth­ers to en­joy. I also wanted it to be a place I can re­turn to and feel the magic of my child­hood, to­gether with a deep sense of con­tent­ment that comes from liv­ing in har­mony with the el­e­ments,” she says. Visit: www.lilot.biz/en

2

1

4

3

6 5. With nat­u­ral sand banks and rock pools that stretch far out along the reef, os­ker­men snor­neoo­ers Dnd swlm­mers Dre com­mono\ seen ex­soorlnj tkls trop­i­cal par­adise. 6. Ta­tiana Schaub. 7. Ta­tiana’s kept to a nat­u­ral pal­ette in DOO Iour Ee­d­rooms en­surlnj tkdt tke\ Doso DOO KDYE sed IDCLNJ Yerd­nd­dks. 7KLS doueoe en sulte Ee­d­room Dt tke Iront oi tke Kouse Ooons out onto tke Iront Yerd­nddk Dnd tke cordo reei Ee\ond.

7

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.