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 en suite accommodation and relaxed living spaces. Stir in a few private nooks for 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 Ca’n Busquera, a renovated traditional stone townhouse located in Sóller – a picturesque village on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
A discreet entrance gate provides access to the property off the narrow street and just beyond it lies a real eye-opener: around the side of the house is an expansive garden, swimming pool and outdoor living area that sweeps the eye out towards the towering Tramuntana mountains beyond. It’s an instant dose of calm.
Oro del Negro and Manuel Villanueva of More Design, a design and architecture practice based in the nearby village of Deià, were asked by the house’s owners to redesign this outdoor area. Since its inception in 2011, More Design has rapidly built a reputation for meticulous attention to detail, and here, Oro and Manuel have considered every aspect of what holiday-makers might want. The outdoor area, for example, is a short distance from the house – and built into an old utility building that backs onto one side of the outdoor table is a changing room with basin and toilet, so there’s no need to return to the main house to change into your swimsuit.
The remainder of this building has been converted into a poolside guest suite with a generous built-in bed, en suite bathroom and metal-framed glass doors through which you can gaze out at the garden and pool while you lie in bed.
The main house is accessed via the open-plan kitchen and dining area on the ground floor. The kitchen is elegantly simple and compact, with a beautiful slab of natural stone topping the prep island in its centre. The counter tops are made from the same softly textured natural stone, with an integrated shallow rectangular sink. Across the rear of the kitchen, a rough-hewn tree trunk has been added to the front of the plastered ‘chimney’ area that contains the extractor fan 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, have been here for a very long time. The retention of such materials – and the use of natural, local materials – is also 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.
Up a short flight of stairs – with 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 orientated 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 by being covered in textured white linen.
Further up the staircase are the private spaces: immediately to the left at the top of the stairs is another hidden nook 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 classic 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 en suite 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 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, situated at the ocean nearby. The village sits neatly in a curve of the mountain range that makes it feel as if it is contained in an embrace – and when you’re also enfolded within the tranquil surrounds of Ca’n Busquera, it’s difficult to imagine how you are ever going to be able to leave.
This house was originally published in the HL Jan/Feb 2017 issue.