In Architectural Digest's July issue, the country musicians proudly show off their home—technically a collection of eight "pavilions"—in the Bahamas. Hill and McGraw purchased the private 20-acre island they call "L'île d'Anges" in 2003, though they didn't move in until 2012. In hindsight, Hill says they were "naïve" about all the renovations the island would need—it turned out to be a massive undertaking. "We set out to build a house. We had no idea we had to build everything else," the 49-year-old singer says. "We basically had to build a little town."
"You've got to have staff houses. You've got to have infrastructure [for the construction workers]...Water. Electricity," McGraw, 50, adds. "You don't quite put all that together at first." The family stayed in a pair of seaside yurts during the decade in which the permanent structure was being built. "It was like camping," Hill recalls. Luckily, her husband adds, "The kids loved it!"
"As long as our family is together," Hill says, "we can pretty much make a home anywhere." Thankfully, the construction didn't annoy the neighbors, as the family owns the private island.
Hill and McGraw hired McAlpine, an architecture–and–interior design firm that had previously worked on their homes in Nashville and Franklin, Tenn. Architect Bobby McAlpine, who designed the compound with his partner Greg Tankersley, was faced with a unique challenge. "I thought, 'In paradise, you live in ways you can't live in civilization.' So every room is a separate building. You can bathe outdoors or climb a tower and feel that you're being lifted up into the air," he says. "All these sort of romantic ideas, we got a shot at doing here, and we took them."
"We wanted to feel connected to the outside. When the breeze comes through the room, it's just life-changing," Hill says, letting out another laugh. "It really is! It's something for the soul."
"And we wanted it set up so that when we brought people down, they'd get the same feeling that we got when we first came. The same reaction to the pristineness of it, to how relaxed it feels," McGraw explains. "The house is functional, but it really blends into the environment."
For the décor, interior designer Ray Booth looked no further than the island itself. "I think the beach has always represented, to the McGraws, a simplicity that their everyday life lacks. So this house needed to offer a real clarity and cleanliness in its aesthetic. It's essentially a bleached-out white [throughout]; where there is color, it's pulled directly out of those beautiful Bahamian waters," Booth says, adding, "We wanted everything to feel a bit cobbled together..."
During the last six to nine months before their move-in date, the couple was asked not step inside the house. "It was killing us!" McGraw tells Architectural Digest (on newsstands now). "And when we finally got down there, it was early evening, and the landscaping was done and the house was furnished and open and there were candles lit, and it just took our breath away. It still does, every time we go there. Every time we land the plane and walk onto the beach and head up to the house, we turn to each other and say, 'This is the best place in the world.'"