"You have to live in a place for a while to get to know how it's going to work for you," says the businesswoman – for whom this stylish, welcoming Son Vida property is a permanent family home, shared with her husband and small daughter. Achieving a makeover's desired effect doesn't always happen easily. In the case of this property, it's taken three projects – the last of which was ongoing for four years – to create the comfortable home they have today.
The owners bought the property eleven years ago, as a traditional opulent Son Vida villa. It boasted space (including five bedrooms, six bathrooms and a garage for five cars), lashings of natural light, and breathtaking views over the Bay of Palma. With plenty of money, time, and a good interior designer, it's not hard to make a typical Son Vida property look stunning. But making that property into something that looks fabulous, yet lends itself to ordinary day-to-day family life – chilling out at the end of a day's work, enjoying family fun, or entertaining friends – requires something more. Knowing the property and how it's to be used is a good starting point.
It goes without saying that a Son Vida property owner can probably afford the best things to put in their home, but this project illustrates that high-end and budget items, as well as one's own artistic creations, can be successfully combined. This home incorporates fixtures and accessories sourced from Zara Home and Leroy Merlin, as well as purveyors of luxury goods, such as the famous London store, Liberty. "It's about having the confidence to put things together," the owner tells me. A good example is the pendant lighting over the dining table: the economically-priced silver globes came from Leroy Merlin, "but the red ones were probably the most expensive lights I've bought!" The dining table and sideboard were custom-made by local company F&I Cocinas y Baños, which also made the kitchen units. A runner for the long table was made with fabric from Rialto Living.
Inspiration came from many sources. While visiting Miami, the couple took photographs of some shelving units they saw and liked. Working from those images, skilled Mallorcan artisans reproduced the shelves, which now grace their living room. The doors in this large room were also hand-crafted, to replace the constructor's originals.
Fengshui was a major influence in this project. A consultation and subsequent 28-page report by Natalie Jürges of Solera Fengshui (www.solera-fengshui.com) revealed a number of issues that needed addressing:
"The house was very stylish,"
Natalie says, recalling her first visit. "It looked like a property you'd see featured in a magazine, but it was impersonal – lacking cosiness and a family feel, and it didn't reflect the character of the owners."
Natalie's analysis was based on energy flow and energy quality throughout the property. She made recommendations to improve energy flow and introduce more of the element water, to increase the potential for relaxation: "There were some strong and dark colours used in the house which produced a strict, sometimes severe feel. In general, there was an excess of the elements earth and metal."
The water element was increased in several areas by adding different shades of the colour blue (such as the lounger chair in the living room's cosy reading corner) and silver, and introducing fabrics incorporating a wavy pattern (for example, on the living room armchairs and the Designers Guild Montefiore rug in duck egg blue, sourced from Knox Design, on the covered terrace). The very centre of the house – an important place in fengshui – is now marked by a low-hanging white lantern in the huge living room.
The exterior living areas of the home were the last to be tackled and the businesswoman turned to interior designer Justine Knox (www.knoxdesign.net) to source new outdoor dining furniture, easy chairs, rugs and a modular sofa for the covered terrace. "My client had seen a sofa in a magazine and wanted something similar," Justine says. "We found a modular arrangement from one of our Spanish manufacturers, Confort 2000, and she was able to try the Naron model in the showroom." Designers Guild Tiana fabric was sent to the manufacturer, who made removable covers for each module. "The result is a very comfortable, practical and versatile sofa arrangement." The new look was completed with easy chairs and low tables from the Gloster Axis range, dining tables from the Westminster Linea range (sourced from Knox Design), and cushions from La Oca. The project proves that indoor and outdoor furniture can be successfully combined.
The creative side of this businesswoman has resulted in some personal and unique touches that add to the charm and intimacy of this home. When the outdoor terraces were re-paved, she painted the terracotta plant pots to give accents of colour. In the living room of the house, her colourful velvet-covered candlesticks are always a talking point with visitors, and there are several of her simple but effective paintings hanging in the property. Lilac silk fabric from Liberty was made into curtains for the master bedroom, but look again and you'll spot the crystal droplets (hand sewn by ‘I Love Fabrics') onto the drapes add a sparkle in the morning sunshine. Putting her personal stamp on the property by using her own artistic traits has added to the family feel of the home.
The total project has certainly been a protracted one, but what used to be a rather impersonal but luxurious villa is today a stylish contemporary, yet cosy, family home – evidence of this businesswoman's creative flair, open-mindedness, and belief in the principles of fengshui.
Not to mention patience and tenacity . . .