Real Home: The Essence of Country Living
Martina Said meets the owners of a stunning house of character in the south of the island, which, with its rustic refinery and provincial feel, typifies the look and feel of sophisticated country living.
“This is where we live for a good eight months or so of the year,” the property’s owner tells me of the stunning outdoor area. And it’s easy to see why. It boasts a large swimming pool (scroll down), white deckchairs adorned with grey cushions, a lounge area filled with sofas and armchairs and a fully-fledged kitchen that gives any average kitchen a run for its money The outdoor area, however, was the last part of the property to reach completion.
“We bought the property in 2001 and it took us roughly 18 months to finish the first round of works. We were already living in a house of character but had two children at the time, and wanted something bigger with a garden.”
Upon buying the property and acquiring the necessary permits, works immediately began on restoring and converting the building’s interior. “Most of the rooms, with the exception of two bedrooms, required reinforcements to the roofs, while all the apertures needed to be changed and made of solid wood. In order to bring as much light as possible into the living area, the architect suggested constructing a stainless steel frame with glass, which added a modern touch to the building and became the main feature of this house.”
Besides the eye-catching steel and glass feature, you’ll instantly notice the myriad colours, patterns, textures and styles that occupy the large and spacious living area which, similar to the outdoor area, is subtly divided into a number of distinct living spaces: the TV/living, dining and sitting areas. In a separate room, accessed from the living area, is the kitchen, while behind the open courtyard are the sleeping quarters, consisting of four bedrooms, one of which has an ensuite bathroom.
“I’m drawn towards a number of different styles, but I particularly love the colonial, tropical, ethnic and tribal looks. Heavy wood, bursts of colour and quirky pieces catch my attention, and generally, the more peculiar an item is, the better. The living area hasn’t always looked like this though,” she smiles. “When we first moved in, the children were young and would scribble and draw on everything and spill things everywhere, but once they grew up that stopped, and we decided that we needed a new sofa.”
That one shopping spree for a new sofa kicked off an extensive redecoration project, starting with a new layout for the entire area. “We had a lot of wasted space so we sought the advice of a designer and we rearranged it all to maximise the space,” she explains.
The range of styles might seem overwhelming at first, but upon closer inspection, you notice that the choice of items and their placement is far from random – on the contrary, every piece is thoughtfully placed to complement or contrast something right beside or beneath it.
From the living area to the rustic blue kitchen, this home is warm and welcoming with a lived-in feel, and a clear reflection of its owners’ tastes and life experiences. In fact, it is clear that a number of ornamental objects are ones they brought home with them from a distant country. “We’ve been very lucky to travel, and wherever we went, we always brought something back with us, such as the tribal African masks. I was brought up in Africa, and this collection of masks reminds me of my childhood each time I look at them.”
While every room or area in the house is special and dear to her, she admits that the kitchen is probably her favourite room. “Everything goes on in the kitchen – dinners, homework, discussions – it’s the heart of the home, and I love to cook. Our kitchen is also a simple and practical one – no fancy drawers or self-closing mechanisms. It is actually the same kitchen we had ordered for our previous home, but when we moved, I brought it all with me. I like to paint it from time to time and give it a new look, and only recently finished painting it in the colour you see now,” she giggles. “I’m constantly hopping from one house project to another – the only room I haven’t ransacked yet is our bedroom, because it’s sentimental. We’ve had it for 19 years, as long as we’ve been married, and I have no intention of changing it so long as the furniture remains intact!”