Enlisting the help of London-based South African designer Hubert Zandberg, a British couple transformed a nondescript house into an Ibiza holiday home defined by its blue-and-white palette while being serenely cradled in nature.
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. ‘We looked straight past the dead trees and obligatory Buddha in the garden, past the proliferation of bright orange crenellated walls and gauche tower with thick bars on all the windows, to the property’s incredible location.’
‘When we discovered the house had access via a dirt path to our favourite beach, a rarity in Ibiza, the deal was sealed,’ says Tom. With uninterrupted views towards Es Vedrà, an uninhabited island steeped in folklore, the location is all the more spectacular.
For Deborah, who has been going to the Balearic Islands ever 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, the London couple had made Ibiza their summer destination of choice long before they had children. ‘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 they did nothing more than a quick styling job on the house, painting everything white to give a more calming atmosphere. Because of heritage regulations, they couldn’t change the structure of the house and had to keep the original façade and footprint. The main thrusts of the rebuild and renovation, then, were to make the house more family-friendly, and focus on the outdoor living spaces.
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,’ says 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 marry with the mood of the island,’ Deborah 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, who had previously worked with them on their London house. ‘I knew that Hubert would be brilliant at scaling the interiors up a notch to make our ideas bolder and more sassy,’ says Deborah.
‘My role was to give another point of view,’ says Zandberg. ‘Both Deborah and Tom are incredibly creative with very sophisticated taste levels, so it was very much a process of collaboration where we facilitated their wishes to create a bolder, more glamorous result.’
Although based in London, Zandberg’s childhood in South Africa has given him an instinctive feel for the rough textures and natural elements that the couple were looking for. Highly regarded for his eclectic yet highly considered approach to interiors, he 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 that have been 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,’ says Zandberg, whose exhaustive design knowledge and uncanny knack for sourcing the unusual and the interesting was put to good use. He and his team concentrated on finding the best artisans on the island and personally visited every workshop and studio to establish a high standard of craftsmanship and discover the local materials on offer.
‘Collaborative design is such a potent and magical thing in that everyone brings their strengths to the overall concept,’ says Zandberg. ‘Tom, for example, didn’t want clutter in the house and so that guided us enormously throughout the entire process – nothing is here without reason.’
Similarly, Deborah and Zandberg 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 – it allows us the space as a family to regroup and lead a simpler life for a while. You can’t put a price on that.’ With her recent foray into ceramics and Tom’s debut feature film Dead in a Week released late last year, it’s a place that will become ever more important to their creative process.