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This Iberian villa is full of joyful colour and spaces for gathering
Image / Living / Interiors

Photo: Tomeu Canyellas

This Iberian villa is full of joyful colour and spaces for gathering


by Megan Burns
10th Nov 2022

Its Irish owners worked with Dublin-based Emma Cooling to reconfigure the home, making it feel bright and perfect for entertaining.

When designing a home, it’s always important to consider its setting and surroundings, and in the case of this Spanish villa, interior designer Emma Cooling has perfectly tailored her design to this beautiful location.

The owners, an Irish couple, contacted her company, Cooling Design Interiors, as although the house had plenty of great features like high ceilings with timber beams, and timber arched windows, much of it was dark and dated.

“The house was in a super location with beautiful views but too much space was allocated to an indoor/outdoor enclosed area at the side of the house which backed on to the neighbour’s house,” Emma explains.

“It gets very hot in Spain which can make it uncomfortable to be outdoors during the afternoon, so this area was not being used. The outdoor space by the pool at the back of the house has fantastic vistas so this was the area we wanted to designate for the outdoor dining and living space.”

The owners wanted a relaxing space they could enjoy while in Spain, and also one that would suit entertaining, as they enjoyed hosting family get-togethers in the home. A large kitchen and dining area was therefore a top priority. 

“As successful business owners, a home office was also vital to allow them the flexibility to work while abroad,” Emma says, and as they are avid cyclists a large garage for their bikes was important. Emma also included a cosy den space for relaxing.

Cooling Design was involved in all stages of this project, including the interior architecture, designing bespoke joinery, and interior decor.

Emma’s design involved closing up the windows of the existing indoor/outdoor area, and moving the kitchen to this space.

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“We designed a bespoke kitchen with the focus on a large island with plenty of seating which is perfect for relaxed dining and entertaining,” Emma explains. “We kept the dining table at the end of the room with a bespoke window seat with lift up storage under a large window to take in the beautiful sunsets in the evening, and for easy access to the pool during the day.”

The large living room felt disjointed, Emma says, so they designed a central seating area in front of the feature fireplace and extended the room out onto the pool side. An office was designed just off the living room with bespoke shelving units, while the old kitchen was turned into a den.

As a Spanish home but for Irish clients, “It was important to get the right balance of elegance whilst retaining the Spanish Villa elements,” Emma says.

While Cooling Design sourced everything from Ireland and shipped it over to Spain, Emma also wanted to keep the home’s traditional character and details. The stucco walls were kept, and simply painted in Shirting by Little Greene.

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The traditional Iberian timber ceiling beams and arches had become yellow and dated, Emma says. “We updated these by staining them in a dark ebony. The juxtaposition of the dark timber with the white walls created a clean palette which then allowed me to introduce pops of colour the clients wanted.”

Colour was an important part of the design, as it was something the clients had specifically asked for. “We added pops of blue and coral in accent furniture. To me these colours are Mediterranean: bright and fresh. We also had lots of fun with the scatter cushions on the window seat and then the outdoor furniture, including coral, hot pink and orange.”

The art in the home, which was all shipped over from Ireland, also adds colour and interest.

The finished result feels luxurious and welcoming, and feels true to both its surroundings and its owners. “It is bright and fresh, spacious and calm whilst still comfortable and inviting,” Emma says. “It feels like a home.”

Photography: Tomeu Canyellas

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