Here is a recipe for the perfect summer holiday house: take one part gorgeous (yet under-the-radar) location, add one part charming view and gently mix together while adding secluded ensuite accommodation and relaxed living spaces. Stir in a few private nooks for afternoon siestas, and finally, add a refreshing swimming pool alongside a spacious outdoor living and dining area. With the recipe complete, you can sit back with family and friends, and enjoy.
An excellent rendition of this recipe is Ca’n Busquera, a renovated traditional stone townhouse located in Sóller, a picturesque village on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Ca’n Busquera is a wonderful holiday home for a family with indulgent spaces in which to spend time together, as well as tranquil spaces in which to enjoy peaceful time to oneself.
A discreet entrance gate provides access to the property off the narrow street. The gate is made of metal, painted dark green – matching the house’s equally traditional shutters.
After the narrow confines of the street and entryway, the view just beyond the gate is a real eye-opener: around the side of the house there is an expansive garden, swimming pool and outdoor living area that sweeps the eye out towards the view of the Tramuntana mountains. It’s an instant dose of calm.
Oro del Negro and Manuel Villanueva of More Design, a local design and architecture practice, were commissioned by the owners to redesign this outdoor area. The design process began with careful attention to the landscaping in the garden, to organise this expansive space. Rough cobbles were placed in front of the house without full grouting – so that small, hardy groundcover plants could encroach, anchoring the house in the landscape. Old stone pillars were supported by beams above and between them, with creeper plants verdantly dressing them. On one side of the swimming pool, a small patch of lawn softens the outlook, while behind it a tall hedge of oleander and bamboo provides privacy.
The area around the pool has been alternately finished with smooth poured concrete paving, combined with hand-laid river pebbles. Softly textured underfoot – they almost massage bare feet when walked on – the pebbles add visual depth and interest. It’s another layer of texture, and a touch of almost marble-like shine (especially when it’s wet) has been created in the concrete finish too.
The large rectangular swimming pool is the focal point. The salt-water pool is edged with wide textured stone slabs, and is contained at one end by a low stone boundary wall. Beyond this there is a small citrus orchard through an archway at the end of the garden.
Alongside the pool area is a large, cast concrete built-in table. ‘It was a labour of love, creating this table,’ says Del Negro, ‘and the best thing about it is that it’s going to weather and age so beautifully.’ Behind the table is built-in stone seating (topped with canvas-upholstered seating pads) and on the opposite side is a simple wooden bench. A rustic wooden pergola above the table supports more burgeoning plant life, and handmade ceramic tubular lights. This is the perfect spot for outdoor dining during the long, warm evenings of summer.
Entry to the house itself is directly into the open-plan kitchen and dining area on the ground floor. The kitchen is elegantly simple and quite compact, with a beautiful slab of natural stone topping the prep island in its centre. The countertops are also made from the same softly textured natural stone, with an integrated shallow rectangular sink. Across the rear of the kitchen, a weathered tree trunk has been added to the front of the plastered ‘chimney’ area that contains the extractor over the hob.
Traditional existing materials have been left in situ wherever possible in the house: the old stone treads on the staircase, for example. The retention of such materials – and the use of natural, local materials whenever elements are added to a space – is typical of More Design’s approach. Additional examples of these choices in the kitchen-dining area include rustic wooden floating shelves (on which the owners stack cookbooks and holiday reads), distressed wooden cupboard doors and beautiful poured micro-cement floors.
Directly adjacent to the kitchen is a dining area with built-in seating provided along two sides of the square wooden table. On one side, the seating has radiator heaters built into its back, making this a delightfully cosy spot during the winter months, which can be quite chilly in the mountainside village. Also in this space, and again backing onto a radiator along a wall, is a built-in couch – the ideal spot for lounging while chatting to the cook.
Up a short flight of stairs – with those stone treads and with risers and wall edges clad in traditional Mallorcan patterned tiles – is the living area, which features two seating spaces. One is more suited to socialising, and is oriented around a wood-burning stove, while a more private spot is perfect for reading and relaxing. The furniture here is classic in style, but given a casual holiday feel with white linen coverings.
Further up the staircase are the private spaces: immediately to the left at the top of the stairs is another hidden nook ideal for moments of retreat, in which a built-in day bed is surrounded by shelves crammed with books. This space also doubles as a kids’ play area, as one side of it leads onto a children’s holiday bedroom, with three single beds placed dormitory-style alongside one another.
Take a right turn at the top of the staircase into a spacious master bedroom suite, complete with weathered natural stone tiles on the floor and the exposed wooden ceiling beams that are typical of Mallorcan traditional architecture. The ensuite bathroom features one of More Design’s earthily distinctive hand-moulded plastered bath and shower units, a duo of natural stone basins and plenty of simple open storage space. From the windows at the front of this room are gorgeous vistas of the garden and the mountains, while those at the rear look out onto the street behind the house.
Just a short stroll away lie all the charms of Sóller: pretty squares, tempting restaurants and shops, beautiful churches and the village’s much-loved old tram, which still carries passengers up and down to Port de Sóller.
The designer Oro del Negro, of More Design, was commissioned to design the expansive outdoor space. As a family friend of the owners, he enjoys the ambience with his family, Mio, Tille and Maxine.
The home This holiday home in the village of Soller, on the island of Mallorca, Spain has four bedrooms including a master with ensuite, all designed applying traditional craftsmanship and local materials.
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Styling by Tille del Negro, Photography by Greg Cox/bureaux.co.za