We’re enjoying Bali more now than ever. Last year, we were quite ready to leave when I wrote about what we love about Ubud and what we feel is lacking here. But lately, many of those lacks have been filled. From finishing a year-long remodel project, to finding several wonderful classes and friends for our girls, to connecting even more with open and welcoming people – at this point, we’re not wanting to leave at all!
It really is nice to live in a house that’s been designed specifically with our family’s needs in mind. It also helps knowing that we can use it for the next 12 years (or more, if we extend our lease). It was no small challenge to complete this renovation in a foreign country with language barriers, no building standards, different quality preferences, cultural dynamics, and combining two separate houses into one. Fortunately, we had a lot of help!
While many hands played into completing the project, our biggest thanks goes to our Belgian friends known together as “QuemKun” – an amazing architect and designer couple, who immediately recognized ways to improve on my original sketches of the house, and saved a project that was in many ways falling apart from my inexperience, lack of vision, and poor communication. They brilliantly coupled our ideas with their own, and somehow managed to squeeze everything we wanted into a luxurious, elegant, and relaxing design that respected the original Balinese elements in the house, but added modern touches in a perfect merging of Old and New. Not only did they design it well, they also tirelessly executed the finishing of the project in our absence, overcoming so many hurdles and setbacks, it would take pages to write them all. They are like angels to us, and we are truly awed by what they’ve accomplished. We continue to notice the attention they gave to the little details and are ever more appreciative of their insistence for quality. Here are a few before and after shots of the results.
House from garden:
Dining room (we removed the stairs). Pool table becomes dining table.
Looking toward the garden:
Our home now has three bedrooms (plus a family room that can be converted into a fourth bedroom), four bathrooms, a large dance / yoga room, an office (yay for me!), swimming pool, a beautiful rounded kitchen countertop/bar, a large sitting area with exotic lights, a dining table that can convert to a pool table, staff room, beautiful artwork throughout, an entry-way fountain and pond, plenty of storage space, a lovely and quiet balé overlooking the river, and so many nooks for reading and relaxing, including in a lovely garden that has become an extension of the house. Here are a few more pictures.
The villa is for rent on Airbnb from May to the end of 2015, if you or anyone you know would like to spend some time here this year. We’ll be heading off to Southern Spain, France, Victoria Canada, and the U.S., ending with a white Christmas and New Year with extended family somewhere on that side of the world.
Our kids enjoyed their drama class when we were here last year, and since then, Yellow Coco creative nest has taken itself to a new level. With a brand new bamboo building, more kids and staff, they’re working on a big musical production of the Lion King! Marie is playing the part of Timon, and Emily is Rafiki. I peeked in on one of their rehearsals and was really touched by the interaction of kids from all over the world, and the way they’re working together to put on this show. I’m so glad our girls can have this experience, and get to work with a genius teacher like Susan Allan.
Beyond that, our kids have joined a small homeschool group that meets three times per week, for four hours per day. There are about eight children from 9-12 led by an amazing former Green School teacher, who’s facilitating holistic learning of many subjects, from math and English, to geography and emotional intelligence and more. They’re also taking philosophy, permaculture, art, and chess classes from different teachers periodically, and enjoying lots of play time and sleepovers with friends, and alone time to explore their own interests in more depth. We feel it’s a really good balance for us right now.
We found some great staff for our villa as well, including an attentive driver who takes our kids to all their classes, a sweet and thorough house keeper, an occasional gardener/pool maintenance man, and an amazing cook who speaks excellent English. We feel very well taken care of here.
There are, of course, things we could choose to complain about, from the mold and mildew that tends to form on blinds, cushions, and bedding during the humid rainy reason, to the time it’s taking to wrap up the finishing touches and repairs on the house, to the mosquitos, termites, and other creatures that occasionally pester us, or even that mango season is ending :(. But overall, we’re very happy with the lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves here. Jen and I are even finding the time to work on some creative projects together (soon to be announced), and we’re choosing to spend one day a week at home without electronics to help us connect more as a family, away from the vortex of email and Facebook that so easily sucks us in. Hopefully we can maintain this balance until we leave in May, when we’ll shake it up again in new ways through our travels.
Here’s a before & after video I made of our house.
And here are some recent clips since we’ve come back to Bali.