Villa Shanti – A Home in Bali

abali-jp-brooky-2008-095My decades old “tropical dream” was re-awakened by spending time in Bali. You know, the dream of sleeping-in a bit everyday and having fresh coffee and O.J. waiting next to the pool, while huge butterflies float by on the tropical-soft air, perfumed with plumaria and mango blossoms. Well, that is the romantic fantasy part. The reality was that I wanted a home and refuge to return to at night during the weeks of long, hot days of work in Bali.

The original plan was to build a comfortable, modest place that we could live in when we were in Bali, and rent when we’re away. This way, we could offer to others, a comfortable, secure-feeling place to stay on a Far Eastern adventure. We were to add to the house over time, according to our master plan. It wasn’t long before we scrapped the master plan, and chose to build it all in one go, adding the 2,500-sq.ft. of phases II and III to the original 1,600sq.ft.home.

In many ways, the house we just completed building in Bali is a reflection of David Alan Collection. The strong Asian/tropical overtones, clean lines, and old teak Javanese architectural pieces of the house are set against an almost Zen-like simplicity. Antique, tribal, tropical, and contemporary all blend easily throughout in the structure, furnishings, and gardens. The extensive rice fields and natural tropical surroundings never let one forget, that this isn’t Kansas.

bali-jp-brooky-2008-645The architectural influences range from the traditional Balinese compound, to post and beam construction, to early 20th century craftsman style. On the main floor, the ceilings are of woven bamboo, and the rafters, beams, window and door frames, and floors are all of deep, red merbau wood, enhancing the rich, tropical atmosphere. The posts are reclaimed ironwood electric poles from Java and Borneo. The walls are simple plaster, though many of the teak doors and frames are from 80-100 year old Javanese homes. This blend is the perfect backdrop for David Alan Collection mix of furnishings and our personal art collection. We are thrilled with the retreat we all created, and grateful for the unusually sweet process of working with the all-Balinese team.

My promise to myself on this building project, was to do my best, ask other people do their best, and happily accept what I got. What I couldn’t accept, I could change later. Upon each return to Bali, after a couple months away, I watched myself walking through the house, seeing detail after detail that need changing. Knowing nothing, nothing in life is what one expects, I didn’t know if I could be happy with what I got. I wanted to be an enlightened soul, but I also knew, deep down, the details, the flow of the space, and the resulting beauty, do matter.

villa-shanti-master-bedroomAt the same time, I knew the opportunity to build in Bali is a gift of a lifetime, and to miss the day-to-day joy and appreciation of the people and their work, would be a shame.As it turned out, there was enough time to make a lot of progress on the house between trips to Bali, yet to catch mistakes before they became disasters. Sometimes, knocking out walls, moving foundations, and changing rooflines were needed changes. What I found remarkable was that the Balinese were never bothered by having to tear out things and rebuild. Life really is a process there, not a series of goals to reach.

I love and hate seeing how little control I have in life. It was one of the lessons of building in Bali. I have the illusion of control when I’m in America. It’s just an illusion. In Bali, it’s clear. One can not control life. You can fight or accept it, love or hate it, but you can’t control it. Not here, not there. The Balinese laugh when telling of their problems. There’s humor everywhere from some perspective. I’m learning to look for that perspective wherever I can.

villa-shanti1The house is now complete and comfortable. It’s a tropical dream come true. The A/C works; the pool is heaven, and the staff is sweet and helpful. The house and gardens will always be a work in progress. I will never forget the gift and beauty of building in Bali.

Recent News! We’ve just started up a new website for Villa Shanti at


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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