Filled with meaningful pieces

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Filled with meaningful pieces

By Lisa Boushy – May 20, 2019 (

While on a leisurely drive one afternoon in Grand Cayman, Ruth and Chris Gustafsson discovered their future family home by chance.

The couple was drawn to a “for sale” sign situated on the front lawn of a particularly enchanting home at The Shores, a residential community in West Bay.

“We wanted to live in a neighbourhood where we could ride our bikes together as a family, as well as walk our two dogs,” says Ruth.

They also wanted a short commute to work and to be close to the beach.

All of this and more was found at The Shores, but it was the 2,500-square-foot home that sealed the deal (3,000 square feet if you include a “bonus room” garage conversion).

Lucky for them, the home is also located within walking distance to Barker’s Beach.

Mixing it up

Purchased in November 2017, the couple has since filled the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home with a delightful mix of curated pieces, many which have sentimental meaning for the couple and their 11-year-old daughter Sophia.

The result is a design-savvy space that is both warm and inviting.

The single-storey home features an open-plan living area that flows into a cozy sunroom and casual dining room; an adjacent kitchen with a pass-through window ties to the living room.

Large windows enhance the views of the pool, deck, and backyard, creating a light-filled and relaxed setting.

The backyard abounds with many unique furniture pieces which were sourced by local interior designer Katia Dahan of Zaikat, such as an outdoor sectional sofa, ultra-modern floor lamps that pulsate different colours, and an oversized T-Pee daybed by the edge of the pool.

Surrounded by tropical foliage, the pool deck also features a pergola and outdoor dining set bought locally at Absolutely Fabulous Furniture.


The Gustafsson’s decision to renovate the home upon purchase has greatly enhanced the interior and exterior surroundings. Ruth sketched out her design ideas before giving them to local craftsman Lincoln Derby of Derby Cabinets, who effortlessly brought her visions to life.

He custom-made a white shaker-style built-in cabinet that spans the wall of the living space, and the result is a dramatic focal point that sets the scene for the entire home.

Lincoln also repainted the kitchen cabinets white and extended them to the ceiling to create more storage; he also added a small desk nook.

New flooring was added throughout the house; and Trex composite decking replaced old patio bricks. The outdoor deck was extended and the wooden pergola was also rebuilt.

Ruth regularly visits consignment and furniture shops and scours to find treasures for the home; most furniture pieces are new and bought locally.

This includes the front entrance table, coffee table and dining table, purchased from Absolutely Fabulous.

The office’s elegant desk is from Dwell by IDG, while its complementary floor desk-lamp is courtesy of The Design Studio; other indoor lamps in the home are provided by IDG.

“I like to live in a space and pull it together piece by piece,” Ruth says, adding that she prefers to collect and pair décor and accessories that really resonate with her.

“I feel that a home is like an outfit to live in,” she says. “I also really like millwork and was inspired by my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Canada, which has similar built-in cabinets. It just gives the space a cleaner look.”

International origins

Ruth moved to Grand Cayman in 2003 from the UK. Originally from North Yorkshire, she is half British and half Belizean; while Swedish-born Chris arrived in 2001.

As a nod to their heritage, as well as to celebrate Sophia’s (she was born in Cayman), framed flags from each of these four countries adorn a wall.

There are many other décor pieces sprinkled around the home that reflect the story and motto of their lives, from a traditional Swedish horse figurine to a replica model sailboat (Ruth was once a sailing instructor), to inspirational phrases on plaques.

Framed photos and beloved books also help create an inner sanctuary for the family of three, further highlighting the importance of living full lives and cherishing precious memories.
“Everything in this house means something and has a purpose,” says Ruth.

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