24 Oct 2017Last updated

International Homes

A home of contrasts in Portugal

This imposing Portuguese country estate juxtaposes classical architecture with elements of modern art and design

Words: Eva Graburn
Added 13:02 | October 20, 2013
  • The sofas, designed by Sá Aranha Vasconcelos, are upholstered in rough linen and cotton with branch designs in soft sky-blue tones.

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  • At the far end of the open living dining space, two modern artworks add splashes of colour to the pastel scheme.

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  • The study is a fun room with framed vintage posters and quirky memorabilia mounted on the wall.

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  • The dining room focuses on contrasts to createa dramatic effect with subdued colours.

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  • ”The contemporary tones we chose for fabrics, carpets, upholstery, together with the modern art in this project, create a counterpoint for the heaviness of the structure.”

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  • An elegant colour combination of pistachio and slate was chosen for the master bedroom suite.

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It was the combination of various passions – including sport, cooking and socialising – and,
above all, the need to escape the city that
led this family to acquire a second home near the country town of Golegã in the Ribatejo region of Portugal. The 19th-century farmhouse, set in a beautiful bucolic setting, is surrounded by acres of lush green paddocks and gardens, perfect for the homeowner’s large family to enjoy at weekends.

Given the austere, functional nature of the property, a significant upgrade and modernisation of the interiors had to take place before the house became the rural idyll it was destined to be. This task fell to the architecture and decoration atelier Sá Aranha & Vasconcelos, who devised a classic, yet contemporary scheme that has breathed new life into the home. There are now a variety of social family spaces, all leading off the welcoming entrance hall that has striking chequerboard flooring and a sweeping staircase to the upper levels.

In the main living room there is a real sense of old and new combining, with the tiled border along the lower walls and hand-painted woodwork on the ceiling, both features of the original home. The designers, Carmo Aranha and Rosario Tello, have introduced a pleasing mix of styles – 19th-century tables, painted animal-themed wood sculptures from India and heavy cotton drapes, all set against soothing mint walls for the main living area. 

With only two months to complete the work, the decorators began with the classical structure and some existing furniture as starting points, building the scheme for each room around original items and features they wanted to keep. In record time they found materials, objects and fabrics to create the harmony the homeowners sought. “We achieved the results by juxtaposing different hues, time periods, weights, heights, and objects of varying origins, finding solutions for every space,” Carmo and Rosario explain. They applied the same strategy in the dining room, which displays the original beams and trusses of the wood-framed roof and sideboards made from 19th-century Nordic pine benches used by Portuguese carpenters. In the kitchen, the modernity of the cabinetry dictates the ambience, while in the nine bedrooms, a fusion between comfort and high design dominate.

Rosario tells us that when the clients first saw the transformation, they were stunned by how spacious and functional the house had become. “They found it amazing. When we look at the finished project we, too, have no doubt that we would like it for ourselves!”

Words: Eva Graburn

Words: Eva Graburn