It’s hard to imagine that the Ibiza home of British fashion editor Deborah Brett and her writer/director husband Tom Edmunds, was once the wild card in a quartet of homes they were shown to buy. ‘It looked like something out of Narcos,’ laughs Deborah, as she recalls their first viewing six years ago. ‘We looked straight past the dead trees and obligatory Buddha in the garden, past the proliferation of bright orange crenelated walls and gauche tower with thick bars on all the windows, to the property’s incredible location.’ With uninterrupted views out towards Es Vedra, an uninhabited island that is steeped in folklore, mysticism and Greek mythology, the location of the house is all the more spectacular because it gives the feeling of being right on the sea. ‘When we discovered that the house had access via a dirt path to our favourite beach, a rarity in Ibiza, the deal was sealed,’ adds Tom.
For Deborah, who has been going to the Balearic Islands since she was a child, the desire to recreate her childhood holidays for her own children Phineas, 10, Hermione, 8, and Ottilie, 5, – was a strong motivator. In fact, Ibiza was Tom and Deborah’s summer destination of choice long before they had children, not for the party reputation of the island but because they loved the ruggedness and the ease and proximity of island life. Not to mention the accessibility from London, where they live. ‘There is a sensibility to the Balearics that we love,’ says Deborah. ‘A wildness where the smell of pine trees and the red dirt roads offer a necessary balm that is a contrast to our life in the city.’
Initially the couple did nothing more than a quick styling job on the house, painting everything white to create a more calming atmosphere. ‘Anyone who has ever tried to buy in Ibiza will know that it’s an epic endeavour,’ says Deborah. ‘Getting your building plans passed is no less laborious and so it was three years before we could begin to make changes, but by then we had time enough to experience the house and understand how we wanted to live in it.’ As they could not change the structure of the house and had to keep to the original façade and footprint, the main thrust of the rebuild and renovation was to make it more practical for family living and to find ways in which they could link to the outdoors.
Working with their local builder, Jon Broekman, Deborah and Tom reconfigured the spaces to create a two-storey house with the living and kitchen areas as well as two children’s bedrooms on the ground floor, while the master en-suite is upstairs. ‘We love having guests but there’s something quite wonderful about everyone having their own space, hence the self-contained two-bedroom cottage just across the courtyard, and a one-bedroom suite underneath the pool for errant godparents,’ quips Deborah.
When it came to the interiors, Deborah and Tom knew exactly what they wanted too. ‘We both felt quite strongly that we wanted a blue and white house. Not a crisp Nantucket-type nautical scheme but more of a faded, worn and beachy look with lots of natural textures and earthy elements to match the mood of the island,’ she explains. ‘In fact, from the very first moment that I walked into the massive courtyard, I told Tom that I wanted to tile the entire area in blue and white tiles and to sink the vegetation and trees down into the ground.’ This was a bold move but one that has successfully set the tone for the rest of the home’s interior scheme.
The couple were quick to enlist the help of interior designer Hubert Zandberg, whom they had worked with on their London home and trusted implicitly. ‘I knew that Hubert would be brilliant at scaling the interiors up a notch to make our ideas bolder and sassier,’ says Deborah. ‘My role was to give another point of view,’ agrees Hubert. ‘Both Deborah and Tom are incredibly creative with very sophisticated tastes, so it was very much a collaborative process to create an audacious, more glamorous result.’
Although based in London, Hubert’s childhood in South Africa has given him an instinctive feel for the rough textures and natural elements that they were looking for. Beloved for his eclectic yet highly considered approach to interiors, Hubert kept to the monochromatic blue theme but used everything from raw brick to stone, rope, leather, wicker and straw to ground the various blues and patterns employed throughout. ‘In any other incarnation so much pattern and different shades of blue might have been overwhelming but here the natural textures work to anchor the elements and are read as neutral,’ explains Hubert, whose design knowledge and uncanny knack for sourcing the unusual and the interesting was put to good use.
Hubert and his team concentrated on finding the best artisans on the island and personally visited every workshop and studio to establish the level of craftsmanship and local materials on offer. This was necessary, as Deborah wanted all the built-in cupboards in every room to have different designs and use of material. ‘Built-in cupboards are so often overlooked and I really wanted them to have personality.’ To this end, Hubert and Deborah devised different designs for each room comprising bamboo, leather, seagrass and rope that cut a stylish swathe and add interest.
‘Collaborative design is such a potent and magical thing in that everyone brings their strengths to the overall concept,’ says Hubert. ‘Tom, for example, didn’t want clutter in the house and so that guided us enormously throughout the entire process in that nothing is here without reason.’ Similarly, Deborah and Hubert guided the aesthetic process to create an eloquent decorative expression that is both timeless and dynamic. ‘The house really came into its own last summer in that it felt complete,’ adds Deborah. ‘This is a place where both Tom and I get much creative refuelling as it allows us the space as a family to regroup and lead a simpler life for a while,’ says Deborah. ‘You can’t put a price on that'
The owner: British fashion editor Deborah Brett and her writer/director husband Tom Edmunds enjoy this summer home in Ibiza with their children, Phineas (10), Hermione (8), and Ottilie (5).
The home: The two-storey property features a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms on the ground floor, while the master en-suite is upstairs. Additional accommodation includes a self-contained two-bedroom cottage and a one-bedroom suite underneath the large pool
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