Barefoot Living in the Caribbean | House and Leisure
houses, Seaside

Barefoot Living in the Caribbean

Jean Philippe Piter


Yachts – often housing celebs and their entourages – bob in a sea-filled cul-de-sac fringed with lush vegetation and a silky tan coastline. Keld Mikkelsen and Marianne Brandi have been holidaying on the island for more than two decades, finally deciding to purchase a home of their own 10 years ago – only the house on their dream property had fallen into disrepair because of serious damage from a hurricane.

For Keld, founder of high-end Danish clothing brand Day Birger et Mikkelsen, and Marianne, the creative brain behind Day Home, this proved to be an opportunity to bring their signature Scandi style and classic elegance to a space of their own. What followed was a two-year-long renovation that breathed chic sophistication into the coastal retreat. Now there’s a sense of calm and airiness that presides in the home, which, for Marianne and Keld, is all about contemporary barefoot living.

We talked to Marianne about the couple’s design journey, the attraction of St Barts and island living at its most remarkable.

How did you come to have a home on St Barts?

Marianne Brandi We have been coming here for more than 20 years and loved it from the very first time. Ten years ago, we bought a piece of land with a hurricane-damaged house on it. It took us two years to rebuild the house.

How regularly do you visit?

MB: My husband and I used to come here four to five times a year, but since moving to Italy that number has decreased. Now that we have long, amazing summers by the lake, we don’t crave the Caribbean as much anymore. But it’s still the place we holiday.

What do you enjoy most about living in your Caribbean home?

MB: That we are outdoors all the time! Even when we are inside the house, it feels like we’re outside because it’s so open.

What is the design aesthetic in your home and how did you bring it to life?

MB: In terms of decor, the things we have in this home are personal. They were not chosen for some practical reason, they were chosen because we love them. This means that we very seldom tire of the things and furniture we have. In this way, a house will always speak to you. We don’t want to compromise the quality of something from a fixed period, so we also try to respect the age that something does – or doesn’t – have.

Which are your favourite rooms in this home?

MB: I love the whole floor where our kitchen, dining room and living room melt together; three rooms in one. It’s harmonic, not overdecorated, and very classic in its uncoloured ambience. I especially love it in the morning when the sun comes up.

Where do you like to shop for your interiors?

MB: Most new things I bring home from our own interior collection Day Home and sometimes, for outdoor items, I go shopping in New York. It’s easy to get things shipped here from there.

Is your design aesthetic at home reflected in Day Home?

MB: Even though I won’t comprise on aesthetics, at least what I call aesthetics, I do like that things are comfortable and that our home is cosy. When we dress, I think it’s important that we show who we are, and the same thing should apply to our homes. Our homes should show who we are, not what other people want us to be. We don’t have a lot of designer furniture because it doesn’t suit us. We have something old, something new and bits and pieces that we’ve collected and picked up during our travels. We love quality but not for something obvious – we’re not slaves to fashion. That’s how we live and work.

What do you consider to be the most fundamental principles of interior design?

MB: For me, it’s balance between the colours you choose, between contemporary and antique, between decorative and functional. A home should reflect your personality.

Who wears the ‘interior-design pants’ at home?

MB: Both Keld and I are very engaged in what comes into the house and we (sort of) have to agree. We go with instinct and a good argument. For me, a home is like a canvas. The balance of a room has to be right and when it is, it’s complete.

You’ve been living in Italy for four years now. Is your lifestyle there very different from the one you have in the Caribbean?

MB: The two are very different. We eat differently because we always try to eat local and since we come to St Barts to relax, we do just that. We spend almost all of our time on St Barts outdoors, we go to bed early, we read – but try not to read too many e-mails.

Where are your favourite places to spend time on St Barts?

MB: On our boat, watching the island from the sea. It’s fantastic. It’s such a green island with beautiful rock formations and beaches. We love to stay at home a lot – our house is so nice in the evening. We light tons of candles and enjoy the sound of the island.

What do you think makes a home a home?

MB: When you leave a bit of yourself there. When it’s so inviting and friendly that your guests always feel welcome.

Originally published in HL August 2016

Find out how to get the look of this St Bart's escape here.