A spur-of-the-mo­ment de­ci­sion to up sticks and move her fam­ily from Lon­don to Ibiza has proved to be a happy one for the new owner of this idyl­lic mod­ern finca

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS - Words Jen­nifer Gould­ing Pho­tographs Sab­rina rothe

How the look of a re­cently con­structed house in Ibiza was in­spired by the nat­u­ral sim­plic­ity and easy charm of its idyl­lic sur­round­ings.

On New Year’s Eve 2013, in­te­rior ar­chi­tect and de­signer Cate Watts made the bold res­o­lu­tion to move to Ibiza. Even more rad­i­cally, she ac­tu­ally made it hap­pen. ‘I had worked in Lon­don for 20 years and I just needed to get away,’ she says. Six months later, she had sold her house and was liv­ing on the is­land with her two chil­dren, then aged seven and nine.

Un­ex­pected choice

Some of Cate’s friends ex­pressed sur­prise at her cho­sen des­ti­na­tion. ‘Ibiza is as­so­ci­ated with par­ty­ing, but it re­ally has so much to of­fer. The land­scape and the chang­ing sea­sons are beau­ti­ful, and win­ter is es­pe­cially mag­i­cal,’ she says. An­other big draw was the is­land’s cos­mopoli­tan at­mos­phere, and the open-minded at­ti­tude of its peo­ple. This pro­vided a gen­tle in­tro­duc­tion to life in Spain, which was im­por­tant as Cate did not yet speak the lan­guage.

Start­ing from Scratch

When Cate first moved to the is­land, she rented an old finca, an ex­pe­ri­ence that dis­cour­aged her from tak­ing on a ren­o­va­tion project. ‘Those types of build­ings are beau­ti­ful, but they have vir­tu­ally no foun­da­tions and tend to suf­fer from damp.’ She de­cided to build her own house in­stead, and be­gan look­ing for suit­able land. As luck would have it, she quickly found a plot on a pic­turesque hill­top with per­mis­sion to con­struct a sin­gle-storey house. As the pro­posed de­sign was not to Cate’s taste, the coun­cil agreed she could make al­ter­ations, pro­vided she stayed within the des­ig­nated foot­print. ‘I wanted it to have the sim­plis­tic feel of an old build­ing, with­out cre­at­ing a pas­tiche,’ she says. Her de­sign com­bines the thick, gen­tly slanted, ex­te­rior walls and re­cessed shelves char­ac­ter­is­tic of Ibizan ar­chi­tec­ture, but with the ad­di­tion of mod­ern el­e­ments, such as pic­ture win­dows. ‘I wanted to ap­pre­ci­ate the light, the views and the beau­ti­ful sun­rises and sun­sets.’ Also key to the look and feel of the house is the gar­den, which is in­spired by Ibizan mead­ows and is full of na­tive plants and flow­ers. ‘I’ve taken the nat­u­ral­is­tic plant­ing right up to the win­dows,’ says Cate.

adding Soul

When dec­o­rat­ing, Cate’s main ob­jec­tive was to counter the stark­ness of the new house. ‘I re­stricted my­self to a small pal­ette of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, which have in­ter­est­ing tex­tures and pati­nas, to help give the house an in­stant sense of char­ac­ter,’ she ex­plains. Ac­cord­ingly, the ma­te­ri­als range from un­painted, hand-ap­plied plas­ter, French oak boards, Span­ish linen and ham­mered and brushed stone floors. To this pal­ette she added be­spoke, lo­cally made fur­nish­ings. Now named Can Ca­te­rina (mean­ing 'house be­long­ing to Cather­ine'), the fin­ished prop­erty has a spe­cial qual­ity that Cate had not an­tic­i­pated: ‘Peo­ple of­ten re­mark on its aura,’ she says. ‘It is a very heal­ing space.’

reap­ing the re­wards

De­spite en­joy­ing a more re­laxed lifestyle in Ibiza, there are still pe­ri­ods when she works round the clock. Her favourite way to un­wind is to pad­dle­board around the coast­line. ‘As soon as I step on the board, ev­ery­thing else falls away and I think: this is why I came to Ibiza.’

SIT­TING AREAOrig­i­nal 1960s lights, in­clud­ing Ge­orge Ko­vacs’ stacked chrome lamp, flank the ta­ble, which is of­ten used for play­ing cards. Vin­tage chairs, Fiorenza Tar­roni Stu­dio, fioren­zatar­

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