Building “Caribbean Cottage Style” in Bequia

This comment on my Messel post from Bequia-based architect and builder Mike Connell, which includes specifics about building homes today in Bequia, merits a post of its own:

“Thanks for the link to those wonderful photos of Messel’s work, they were refreshing to look at and much of it, as a Caribbean country cottage style, although with quite elegant interiors, and open planned layouts is still relevant as a solution to Bequia holiday homes. Some of the technique are simple enough to achieve, like the plastered quoins and lattice work, even the fretwork. I just had some fretwork mirror frames done for Sugar Apple Inn by Finishing and Furnishing in St. Vincent and there are a couple of carpenters here in Bequia that have the patience and skill to do them with a bit of detailing. I found a welder in St. Vincent that would follow a design for the decorative iron work but you have to check him frequently while it is being done. Of course iron work, no matter how beautiful, along with salt air, is not a good mix!

“It’s unfortunate that much of the techniques to create the stained concrete surfaces didn’t seem to get passed on to today’s masons as they is no end to the patterns one can create for coloured concrete floors by using ceramic tiles, bits of hardwood, pebble, etc which one can take the time in laying down as a creative exercise before the cement is laid.  It’s a type of floor that I always try to do in buildings but it takes a lot of patience to work with and guide the masons to achieve the desired finish. It was how Messel did it himself by putting in a lot of work in the creative stage.” (For more information, contact Mike at

For examples of elaborate Windward Island fretwork, see Caribbean Style “The Ginger Bread” House Design in St. Lucia, from which I pulled the photograph above.

Does anyone know the difference between fretwork and gingerbread? If so, please post a comment below.

Questions or Suggestions?