Dreaming of a tropical escape away from the winter blues? How about a private island? No problem. Let’s just take the private jet. Oh wait– we aren’t country royalty. Reminding us once again why they are the envy of the entire western world. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill actually do have their own private island home. And it is stunning.
“We had to build everything”
It started as a tiny shack situated on 20 acres in the Bahamas. Actually a private island they named L’île d’Anges. Nine years after they bought it, their home is finally complete. In an interview with Architectural Digest, the two shared the trials and triumphs of their creation.
They set out to build a house but plans changed. And at the end of it, they didn’t have a house. They had a compound of eight separate pavilions connected by thatch-roofed loggias.
And they admitted that they completely underestimated the endeavor. “We were a little bit naive, possibly,” Hill admitted, “as to what——” “——what the undertaking really meant,” McGraw concluded.
First of all, there was no infrastructure on the island.
As Faith explained, “We set out to build a house. We had no idea we had to build everything else.” She laughed. “We basically had to build a little town.”
“You’ve got to have staff houses,” McGraw said, “You’ve got to have infrastructure.” This included water and electricity, neither of which was present.
Tim and Faith are used to spending long days and nights crisscrossing the continent. So it wasn’t foreign for them to rough it a bit. And building the house definitely required a bit of that. While the house was being built, the couple and their three daughters (Gracie, Maggie, and Audrey) set up seaside yurts. These they lived in while the permanent structure was being constructed.
But the couple said they didn’t mind as long as they were together.
“As long as our family is together,” Hill says, “we can pretty much make a home anywhere.”
She that living in the yurts “was like camping.” “The kids loved it,” McGraw added.
Faith and Hill selected the architecture and interior design firm of McAlpine to bring their vision to life. This is the firm that had previously worked on their homes in Nashville and Frankin, Tennessee. The two principal architects, Greg Tankersley and Bobby McAlpine, first took into account the setting of the home.
“What does paradise look like for a couple of creative people like them?” Bobby McAlpine asked.
He noted that the island “was already otherworldly, with this clear water and white, white sand.” He continued, “I thought, ‘In paradise, you live in ways you can’t live in civilization.’ So every room is a separate building. You can bathe outdoors or climb a tower and feel that you’re being lifted up into the air. All these sort of romantic ideas, we got a shot at doing here, and we took them.”
When it was finished, L’île d’Anges contained was an architectural triumph that encapsulated the paradise of its natural surroundings.
“We wanted to feel connected to the outside,” Hill explains. “When the breeze comes through the room, it’s just life-changing.” She continued, “It’s something for the soul.”
“And we wanted it set up so that when we brought people down, they’d get the same feeling that we got when we first came,” McGraw continued. “The same reaction to the pristineness of it, to how relaxed it feels. The house is functional, but it really blends into the environment.”
A Shipwrecked Interior
Not only does the structure of the home fit perfectly into its tropical setting, but the inside also feels organic and whimsical.
Interior designer Ray Booth admitted that he wanted to blend the house with the natural elements. As he described it, “I think the beach has always represented, to the McGraws, a simplicity that their everyday life lacks. So this house needed to offer a real clarity and cleanliness in its aesthetic. It’s essentially a bleached-out white [throughout]; where there is color, it’s pulled directly out of those beautiful Bahamian waters.”
And besides the simple and fresh color scheme, the inside isn’t anything formal. There is an “organic” tree trunk table in the music room with twine-bound Indonesian lanterns above it. Booth said the interior design was sort of like a shipwreck.
“We wanted everything to feel a bit cobbled together,” Booth said, “as if you washed up on the beach and had to figure out a way” to decorate the house.
Once the house began to take shape, they had no interest in improvising or improving it. They accepted the finished product as exactly what the house should be. And they were anxious in awaiting it.
The two admitted that for several months, they weren’t allowed to see the house as the finishing touches were put on.
“I’ll tell you what,” McGraw said, “for the last nine months, when they were putting on the finishing touches, they wouldn’t let us go down——”
“Was it nine months?” Faith asked.
“Maybe it was six months, and they wouldn’t let us go down at all.”
“You better check that timeline,” Hill remarked. “That seems like a long time.”
“It was,” McGraw agreed. “It was killing us! And when we finally got down there, it was early evening, and the landscaping was done and the house was furnished and open and there were candles lit, and it just took our breath away. It still does.”
As Hill described it, “We’ve been all over the world, and we really wanted to create a special place we couldn’t find anywhere else.” And they did. As McGraw revealed, “Every time we land the plane and walk onto the beach and head up to the house, we turn to each other and say, ‘This is the best place in the world.’ ”
One can only imagine the difficulties of building the house, but also the beauty of the finished product. For most of us, a private island is just a pipe dream. So thank you to Tim and Faith for giving all of us a vision of that dream.