‘I turned 40 and be­gan to think about my life.

Living Etc - - HOMES ⁄ ETC -

Did I want to be work­ing from morn­ing to night, not see­ing enough of my chil­dren? I’d al­ways loved Bali, com­ing ev­ery year to surf and soak up the at­mos­phere. So, I de­cided to live here full time and spend my hol­i­days in Por­tu­gal in­stead,’ says Miguel Lac­erda Leitão, who packed up his life and ar­rived with his then-wife and two daugh­ters Carminho and Luz, trad­ing a home in Lis­bon for sun and surf in the trop­ics. ‘We came here when Carminho was just three months old, giv­ing it six months to see if we could adapt,’ says Miguel. Eight years later, he’s still here, hav­ing built a busi­ness (he’s the owner of two ho­tels on Bali), as well as a beach­front home that’s balm to any midlife cri­sis.

‘We were rent­ing at first, but the houses were crazily ex­pen­sive,’ Miguel ex­plains. ‘I asked an In­done­sian friend if he had any land and he said yes, but it had a ware­house on it that we’d need to pull down. When I saw it, I im­me­di­ately fell in love with the wooden ceil­ings and couldn’t think about de­mol­ish­ing it. It’s a huge, dou­ble­height space and, to me, it was ask­ing to be turned into some­where spe­cial.’

His vi­sion was to keep the struc­ture’s con­crete walls and to cre­ate an open-plan, loft-style space in­side, us­ing huge wooden beams to build a mez­za­nine level for bedrooms and bathrooms with views over the cav­ernous, curvy space be­neath. ‘I like to do things dif­fer­ently,’ he says with a laugh, ref­er­enc­ing the lap pool that’s half-in­side, half-out­side the building, the wavy form of the built-in sofa and the cir­cu­lar aper­ture – the big O – that frames the en­trance to his bed­room. ‘I love the or­ganic shapes of Greek houses, but I’m also in­spired by Mex­i­can ar­chi­tec­ture, Morocco and the houses of South­ern Por­tu­gal,’ he says. ‘What’s key is that the de­sign is clean, with­out too much vis­ual con­fu­sion. It must be as cre­ative as pos­si­ble, but not be too “noisy”.’

That ap­proach counts for the decor too – white­washed wood­work and plas­ter forms that morph from floor to stairs to sofa (the steps up to the kitchen look like squeezes of tooth­paste). Touches of black add bal­last to the airy space, while slubby linens, stone basins and wicker fur­ni­ture bring whole­some tex­ture – the in­te­ri­ors equiv­a­lent of yo­gurt and gra­nola or Bran Flakes served in a white bowl. Tra­di­tional Ba­li­nese ves­sels and fur­ni­ture dec­o­rate the space, bring­ing play­ful changes in shape and scale. ‘My friends said I was crazy be­cause ev­ery­thing is open and you can see into the bedrooms. But if you want pri­vacy, you can put up a cur­tain,’ says Miguel, laugh­ing.

So, was com­ing here the right move? ‘If peo­ple ask, “What shall I bring back from Bali?” I tell them, “Peace of mind, good mo­ments and a tan”,’ says Miguel. ‘I couldn’t ask for more than that.’

Check out Miguel’s Bali ho­tels at sal­bal­i­ho­tel.com and grav­i­ty­bal­i­ho­tel.com

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