Fabulous Rooms: Lyford Cay Club

The design blogosphere lit up like Times Square when Town & Country last spring unveiled the re-do of the Lyford Cay Club in Nassau, Bahamas. I lit up too when I first saw it on the drawing board two years ago and then nearbout swooned when I saw it in person last Easter. This living room truly is one of the all-time great fabulous rooms, and it seems fitting on this Palm Sunday to present a palm strewn room. Hosanna!

Living Room at Lyford Cay, by Tom Scheerer
Living Room at Lyford Cay, by Tom Scheerer. Wicker in such a formal setting is a bit daring but appropriate considering it

The club’s new look is the work of New York designer and Bahamas habituĂ© Tom Scheerer, without doubt one of the best designers working today.

Living Room at Lyford Cay, by Tom Scheerer
View from the opposite end, looking into the main dining room. The huge crystal chandelier was there before, when the walls were fairway-grass green and the upholstery a flowery chintz, done ages ago by the old blue-chip firm McMillen,* under the aegis of Eleanor Brown. It was beautiful then, too.

Scheerer’s eye is as disciplined as it is confident and yet–or maybe and hence–his aesthetic is remarkably inclusive in its authenticity, comfort, and even sentiment. Its uber-sophistication combined with utter accessibility is genius. It may be a reach of an analogy but Scheerer’s work brings to mind the art of Jasper Johns: easily recognized and understood; rarely duplicated. There is no formula.

Who thinks of brown in the tropics–the place of pink and green and turquoise? Yes the Cipriani in Venice could not be chicer with all those brown and white stripes, but Venice is a long way from Nassau. It occurs to me that another inspiration for that audacious brown and white scheme might be the Bahamian people themselves. Many are brown either by birth or by suntan, and they look great against all those bright tropical colors. Is that what Scheerer was thinking when he cooked up those walls? Or is it a paean to racial harmony? (I must ask him.) I’m kidding of course, but this does happen to be a club that has long had mixed-race membership. Okay back to the decor.

 Living Room at Lyford Cay, by Tom Scheerer
A carved, bleached wood table and white painted chairs under a grand gilded mirror make a charming and unexpected vignette. A traditional 19th century style armchair sits by, nonplussed.

Pink of course is a natural–pink coral, pink shells, pink clouds, pink daiquiris, pink sunburns. Pink and brown are a classic combo–here dashed with a splash of coral, punctuated with white, grounded with tones of sisal and straw. Well there you go, but I wouldn’t have thought of it.

This post, by the way, debuts a “Fabulous Rooms” weekly series, and I hope you will join in the hunt. Do you have a favorite fabulous room in your decorating heart of hearts? Do tell, and if your submission makes it into a post, you’ll win a nickel.

Meanwhile, here are a few more looks at Tom’s Lyford Cay project. Photos are by Pieter Estersohn, from Tom Scheerer’s website, which you must visit. Really.

Lyford Cay Club by Tom Scheerer
The main clubhouse lobby. Corner sofa done in Peter Dunham
Lyford Cay Club cottage, by Tom Scheerer
A sitting area in one of the club's newly created suites.
Lyford Cay Club dining terrace by Tom Scheerer
A dining terrace in shades of pink and coral is simple and fresh.

* P.S. I’d be remiss not to mention that McMillen, as mentioned in the second photo caption above, is where the estimable American decorator Albert Hadley got his start. Mr. Hadley died on Thursday at 91, having worked well into his 80s. I interviewed him for House Beautiful then. He probably would not have wanted to be referred to as “estimable,” or even great. But he was both, and more. A post on Albert Hadley to follow.


  1. My friend Paige in Richmond wins a nickel for being first with her entry and wrote: “Love the blog … [:)]
    Fave Room; bar none for me:
    Dorothy Draper Victorian Reading Room in the Greenbrier Hotel. Runner up, the Main Staircase, also in the Greenbrier.
    Below- see bottom right Media- Photos at http://www.greenbrier.com/
    Best to you!

  2. Incredible spaces, Frances! I have to admit that I prefer the more intimate scale of the cottage sitting room- more that I can take away from that for my own “cottage”!

  3. Actually, the sitting area is from one of the newly created suites in the clubhouse section rather than from one of the cottages. I should know – I’ve sat on it! The cottages have a completely different decor.

    1. Well dang, thank you, Tumsey. I had the tiniest feeling I was wrong when I did it. Should have listened to myself!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *