The Golden Leaman | Design Times

1-IMG_9098Swatches by Louis Postel

Design Times April / May 1999

Originally Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

I was riding in a cab through a hurricane-beaten town called Dieppe Bay on the island of St. Kitts. We had labored hard to put this “Adventure Bedrooms” issue to bed, and now I was looking for peace and rest in the Caribbean.

I was already having misgivings. Could Nirvana really be around the corner while goats played over the bones of a prehistoric Ford and dogs scavenged among the ruins of an old plantation, its sugar-fed glory swept away?

My destination was the Golden Lemon Inn & Villas. The travel agent assured me the Lemon is one of the interior design jewels of the Caribbean, and I would feel very much at home. He went on to explain that a former decorating editor of House and Garden, Arthur Leaman, came to Dieppe Bay in the ‘60’s and founded the Golden Lemon, designing each room in a unique way. The place got its name because Lemon’s friends thought his out-of-the-way choice of locations was just that –a real lemon. But somehow it had survived and prospered.

Shortly after reaching the “interior design jewel,” I tried the lights in my bedroom. Nothing doing. St. Kitts had been hit by mudslides right after the hurricane, and I was told there wouldn’t be power for hours I found a kerosene lamp and lit it gingerly. One spill and I would go up in flames with the mosquito netting, which was streaming from a metal ring above the bed. I got under the sheets and closed my eyes, taking solace in the memory of the bedrooms featured in this issue, and , finally, I fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up in paradise. Massive shutters opened wide to the sea, and a gold finch sat on the sill, cocking his head at a brand new world. Coconut palms moved in the breeze. And in my bedroom, there wasn’t a piece that wasn’t an antique, many rescued from the 18th-century French, Dutch, and English plantations on the island. Nevertheless, the white and lemon space was quite fresh, hardly a dusty history lesson. With a light touch, editor/hotelier/designer Leaman had achieved classic, generous proportions everywhere. Nothing was too big, or too small. Architecturally, the room had high, aristocratic cheekbones. Everything came together under the villa’s cathedral ceiling.

The décor was very different from what you would associate with off-the-rack hotel décor. The adventure was in its splashes of bright color, focal points, and deft layering. Everywhere I looked there was something else to see: a stained-glass rose window in the gable, claw-and-ball feet on the big mahogany dresser, and a headboard upholstered in a toile of flirty youth on garden swings.

Leaman’s confident style provoked all kinds of daydreams there in the canopy bed. I imagined that I was a swashbuckler recovering from wounds sustained in defense of Her Majesty. By her own command, I would have to spend months recovering in The Lemon’s beautifully laundered sheets. The swaying palms morphed into gently ministering nurses, and the nightstand filled with a pile of curly charts of isles awaiting discovery.

I then dreamed of romance (having miraculously healed). My beloved and I were on the deck outside the bedroom’s French doors, sipping rum daiquiris. The tropical sky filled with a passionate view of the Milky Way, and a floodlight shone on our private pool. Perched on the pool’s edge was a spouting lion, a chaperone for lovers.

Suddenly, a commotion of vans on the gravel drive interrupted my reverie. A photo crew had shown up to shoot an advertisement for Old Oak rum, here at the Lemon, the most glamorous hotel on the island. As a fellow member of the media, I felt I had to offer the director my insights. “You have to see my beautiful bedroom.” I said proudly.

After huddling with her lieutenants, the director dispatched her army of models, grips, photographers, and make-up people to my villa and bedroom. A coffee-skinned model in a bikini settled herself on a creamy white chair on my bedroom deck. Her smile flashed a thousand miles. The goldfinch checked out the serene, then flitted away. Another thousand-mile flash, and the frenzy was over. The director and I exchanged parting gifts, one media amigo to another, a bottle of Old oak for the latest issue of DT.

How does Old Oak go down? I can’t remember all the details, but I can tell you that in addition to our bedroom feature, the rest of this issue is positively inebriating. Enjoy.



Louis Postel, Editor & Publisher