WHEN FRENCH-BORN, ST. BARTS-BASED INTERIOR DESIGNER PATRICK RAFFENEAU
was asked by a Belgian client to work on what Raffeneau describes
as a “passion project” on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, he had
his work cut out for him. Their client was seeking a “rustic chic”
look, but his only design references on the island were the often-ostentatious homes of his neighbors. Still, if anyone was right for the
job it was Raffeneau, who had trained at one of Bordeaux’s most
prestigious design firms and had designed several houses and hotels
on St. Barts.
“The client, who is used to the most luxurious places on the planet,
had fixed on that one catch phrase: rustic chic,” explains Raffeneau.
“Rustic meant a unified set of materials that were at once raw and
strong and had already proven themselves in the Caribbean. Chic
meant simple, precise designs void of any redundancies.” In the
striking contemporary house Raffeneau devised, that aesthetic
manifests itself in slick white finishes and clean lines that lead the
eye outward to the verdant scenery and sprawling seascape of St.
Barts. (“The only color in the house is provided by the occupants,
who are burned by the Caribbean sun,” he jokes.) He goes on
to explain his unique palette of materials: “The house is built of
poured concrete, the floors are all ipe, and the bedroom walls are
covered with brushed larch wood and white sandblasted paint,
with the occasional pop of dark wenge in the furniture. The roof
is covered with wooden tile, there are native-stone retaining walls,
and the central living space has a pre-weathered zinc-coated