Bali s jungle style sets new heights for barefoot luxury -

John Hardy House Bali

House / January 3, 2019

A covered walkway links the main house to the kitchen.
Martin Westlake for The New York Times


The long, narrow lane would not look out of place in an old spy movie. It ends abruptly at what looks like a wall that swings open to reveal a private entrance to a 2.5-acre property nestled among the rice paddies of the Ayung River valley, near Ubud, at the center of the Indonesian island of Bali.

There, on the Sayan Ridge overlooking the river, stands a 33.5-meter-long (110-foot-long), single-story traditional house situated among a vast expanse of coconut and frangipani trees, man-made and natural ponds and even vegetable gardens.

Built entirely of tropical wood, including old ironwood electricity poles bought in a government auction, this is the dream house of John Hardy, 58, a Canadian, and his American wife, Cynthia.

Each arrived in Bali more than 20 years ago and they separately set up small jewelry businesses. Then, after meeting here, they joined forces to develop John Hardy, a silver jewelry company. Its initial designs were based on four traditional Balinese jewelry-making techniques.

The couple sold their share in the business last year and now are concentrating on a new ecologically friendly school that they have built entirely of bamboo. The international school, which opened its doors in September, serves about 100 students from preschool through Grade 8.

When it came to their house, “we talked to the architect, Cheong Yew Kuan, about a fantasy, ” Mrs. Hardy said. “John’s brief was as few walls as possible, floor-to-ceiling windows upstairs and no door downstairs to maximize the outdoor living experience and the fabulous view, ” she said. “We wanted the house to be as open and as transparent as possible, so you could see the rice fields from wherever you stood inside.”

The couple fell in love with the site when they first spotted it in 1992 on a cycling trip around Ubud. At the time, they were living in a small house with no electricity or hot water that stood on the very edge of the Ayung River gorge, below a luxury resort, Amandari.

“That day there was corn in the field and the view was incredible. We had had the same view below the Amandari but not that open, ” she recalled. “Here, there was a real expanse of rice fields and the river below. There was a feeling of peace, serenity, seclusion.”

The first small parcel of land was bought for $20, 000 with a loan from Mrs. Hardy’s father. (Property prices in Bali are quoted in American dollars.)