Winning a design award for the ‘most stylish kitchen in the Virgin Islands’ in the design competition run by Virgin Islands Property and Yacht magazine is something I will never forget! I feel very honoured to have won this award, not only because it is my first design award, but also because I received the award for my very first design project and to top it off, I am in my favourite part of the world to receive it!

British Virgin Islands - nature's little secret/ Photography: snapshot Simone Aïda Baur

British Virgin Islands – nature’s little secret/ Photography: snapshot Simone Aïda Baur

3-7-14-23 is a very significant number in my life and represents the number of places I have lived in (so far…)! 3 continents, 7 countries, 14 cities and villages and 23 apartments and houses to be exact. One of these places is the British Virgin Islands.

The British Virgin Islands embody a turning point in my life in many ways. I had moved to the BVI from London with my partner at the time. Prior to that I was pursuing a successful career in the luxury hotel industry around the world. So this was the first time for me to ‘follow a man’ without a job waiting for me…

Having always had a passion for interior design from a young age and having seen so many stunning properties around the globe, I realized that I didn’t just want to enjoy beautiful spaces, but actually create them. So I decided to go back to school and study interior design with KLC School of Design in London by distance learning.

Ida Crest Villa under construction, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Ida Crest Villa under construction, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Not having a job in the British Virgin Islands afforded me the opportunity to do just that. During that time I also met Decoy, who was about to venture into building his first home. He was looking for help and I was looking for a guinea pig to put my newly learned skills into practice. It was the perfect match! Who would have thought that this very project would also win me my very first design award?

design award_Global Inspirations Design_beach

Award winning kitchen inspired by nature…

How did it come to that you might wonder? Well, like more often than not in life, it is all about timing and meeting the ‘right’ people. Without going into too much detail, I really hit a very low point in my life towards the end of last year. I felt stuck and I felt as if everything was happening to me rather than for me. By no surprise, I ended up getting very sick and spent my entire Christmas in bed. As I was lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself, I decided that something needed to change and I knew it was down to me to make that happen. However, I also realized that before I’d be able to do anything at all, I really needed a holiday. I had launched my business in May 2014 and had hardly taken any breaks, much less a holiday since… I thought, what better place to go on a holiday than the British Virgin Islands…

The islands are absolutely beautiful and I knew I’d feel right at home, not only because I was familiar with the islands and the lifestyle, but mostly because I have so many wonderful friends on the island. I figured it would be the perfect place to ‘just relax and recharge my batteries’. So I booked my ticket and 2 weeks later I was on the plane heading across the big pond!

Apart from enjoying the sunshine, beach and Caribbean parties, I was of course also very keen to finally see ‘my first design project’ with my very own eyes. The construction had started, just as we were leaving the island back in 2010. I actually did most of the work remotely. I can hardly describe how it felt to physically walk through the villa for the first time and to see how my vision had turned into reality. My projects always grow on me, but this project will always be ‘my first’ and therefore has a very special place in my ‘designer’s heart’. I organized a photo shoot and posted the photos on my Facebook Page. It so happened that the organizer of the ‘most stylish spaces’ design award stumbled across my post and suggested I’d enter their competition.

That was at the end of March. Fast forward to May, here I am sitting by the sea, feet in the sand, the warm breeze on my skin, Reggae music playing in the background, the waves softly crashing onto the shore, sipping on my mango daiquiri and writing this blog post! It’s pure bliss and I cannot even begin to express how grateful I feel right now!

Awards night_most stylish spaces_Virgin Islands_reception

The reception in full swing/ Photography: courtesy of Island Images BVI

The awards ceremony took place in Road Town, Tortola on May 2nd and from the moment I got the call that I had won the design award for ‘the most stylish kitchen’ (which had me literally jumping up and down in my living room), I knew that I just had to be there… in person – I wouldn’t miss it for the world! It was a fantastic event and such a humbling experience to feel all the support from my friends here as well as from all around the globe before, during and after the event!

Photography: courtesy of Island Images BVI

Receiving my award with Erin and Charlotte/ Photography: courtesy of Island Images BVI

There were 6 categories: ‘best indoor outdoor flow’ (a very relevant consideration in the Virgin Islands), ‘best use of colour’, ‘best use of small space’, ‘most stylish living room’, ‘most creative space’ and ‘most stylish kitchen’, which is the category I won.

From top left clockwise: Villa Aquamare, Ida Crest Villa, UrbanVI, Marcos/ Photography: courtesy of Aquamare and Rainbow Visions

From top left clockwise: Villa Aquamare, Ida Crest Villa, UrbanVI, Marcos/ Photography: courtesy of Aquamare and Rainbow Visions

We had a lovely reception with bubbly and pretty canapés and then the individual sponsors announced the winners. I felt brave enough to hold a brief speech, because I really wanted to make the most of this special occasion and express my thoughts and gratitude.

Clockwise from top left: Decoy and me, showing off my award, posing with my sponsor Charlotte, posing with Erin/ Photography: courtesy of Island Images BVI

Showing off my award with Decoy, Erin and Charlotte/ Photography: courtesy of Island Images BVI

When I designed this kitchen I had to keep in mind the client’s brief, who had asked for a modern, European style kitchen. At the same time, it is always vital to take into consideration the geographical location, the climate and the natural surroundings of a place when designing a space. In this case it was particularly important to me to create a space that would not compete, but rather complement the natural beauty of its surroundings. This is why I designed a sleek and clean look with an airy feel and a calming ambiance. The sandy shades of the cabinet fronts and countertop were inspired by the BVI beaches and the whitewashed ceiling beams add a touch of Caribbean nostalgia to the otherwise minimalist kitchen design.

Posing with old and new friends/ Photography: courtesy of Island Images and others

Posing with old and new friends/ Photography: courtesy of Island Images and others

I would like to wrap up this post by saying a special thank you to my mom for always believing in me, to Anthony my partner at the time for supporting and encouraging me to pursue my dreams, to my mentor Ines for her valuable advice and friendship, to my client and friend Decoy for giving me the opportunity to design his home, to Dame Peters for the first photo shoot, to Rainbow Visions for the second photo shoot, to Fran and Kate of House for the styling, to Erin of Virgin Islands Property and Yacht magazine for the opportunity to enter this design award competition, to my category’s sponsor Charlotte of Elian for making it possible and last but not least to my friend Ann Marie, who helped me keep my sanity after the airline had lost my suitcase with my carefully picked outfit for the night one day before the awards ceremony!!!

Gratefully yours,

Simone xx

P.S. I eventually got back my suitcase a few hours before the event… phew 😉

 

Photography:

Rainbow Visions
Island Images

Posted by Simone Aïda Baur, a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-passionate award winning international interior designer and ex-hotelier, who’s discovered her love for blogging. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.