Interiorssneak peeks

Embracing Modern Architecture in Coastal Spain

by Shannon Grant

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been partial to the charm of older architecture, preferring to live in a historic space filled with all the quirky character that comes along with it. More recently, though, my taste has evolved, and I love more modern spaces with their open, airy minimalism. So it was interesting to learn that as a matter of circumstance, illustrator/artist Estibaliz Hernández de Miguel made that same shift after years of living in and renting what she describes as “an old but highly charming row house.” She and her family contracted an architect to design a modern home custom-made for them. The situation began when their landlord decided to sell the building they were living in. At first, Esti says, “All I focused on was [looking for] old apartments, because I love old houses with history, high ceilings, and we weren’t afraid of facing a renovation.” But then an architect friend wooed them away from their city life and persuaded them to build their own house in a coastal village near Bilbao, Spain with three other families, all friends of theirs. It took a while, but eventually the architect won them over and the home came to be. The result is a shared plot of land with four attached houses. Esti and her family were able to tailor it to their budget and “couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

The architect, Mariano Ortega, provided amazing guidance with the development of their home. Initially, the fact that they only had windows on two confronting walls worried the family. In order to keep it bright and open, they made sure not to add any separation walls that would block the light from coming all the way in. The family loves the open plan and giant windows. Esti was also nervous about how all of her vintage, inherited and passed-down furniture would work in such a modern, stark space. While she wanted a modern home, it was important that it be filled with family history and character. They edited down their belongings, but made sure to bring the things they loved most into the new space.

It took a while for Esti to adjust her vision of what an ideal home life could be, away from the city and in a modern space. But these days she enjoys being by the ocean, walking along the beach, photographing the waves and watching the surfers. Working from home as the illustrator behind Pintameldia, she creates work for clients in fashion, music and book publishing, among others. She also recently co-authored the book Strange Way to Live (Extraña forma de vivir) with Ricardo Lezón. Her husband is a professor and scientist who works at the university 15 minutes away, and their two daughters go to a school that is a mere five-minute drive down the road, so the location is perfect. More than anything, though, Esti loves that she had an opportunity to start from zero and reinvent herself through her living space. Shannon

Photography by Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille

Lamp: Mauricio Klabin’s Eclipse lamp (MoMa Store)
Mirror: inherited
Table: early twentieth century iron table bought at a French brocante
Rug: Turkish kilim bought on ebay
Bouquet: Trimmer (Bilbao)

Rug: Turkish kilim bought on ebay
Couch: Ikea hand-me-down
Cushions: handmade, Pomax, Zara Home, Loreak Mendian, fine little day
Coffee table: Artdecó vintage
Vintage white Eames chairs are inherited
50’s armchairs: inherited and reupholstered
Bar cart: original Matthieu Mategot bar cart bought at a French brocante
Lamp: Santa & Cole

Table: Ikea
Chairs: Tulip chairs
Metal chair: vintage hand-me-down
Scandinavian ceiling lamp: Vintage DK on Etsy

Chair: Tulip chair by Saarinen
Cushions: Atelier 11
Cart: vintage
Table lamp: Fase
Ceiling lamp: Serge Mouille replica

Duvet cover: Zara Home
Cross pillow: Regan’s brain (Etsy)
Blanket: Black Oveja
Table lamp: Fase vintage lamp
Small painting by Amanda Blake (Enormous Tiny Art Show)
Ceiling lamp: vintage Lyfa lamp
Cabinet: La Cabina vintage store (Spain)
Framed photograph by Katrina Rodabaugh
Vintage stool

Beds: Ikea
Duvet Covers: Ikea
Pillows: Zara Home and handmade
Credenza: A hand-me-down from my grandmother
Table lamps: a brocante find and Ikea’s
”Girls Rock” hand-lettered painting by Vanesa Santos (Ah!)
Ceiling lamps: Vintage PH 4/3 by Poul Heningsen
Wardrobe: Inherited
Basket: Ikea
Animal wall hooks: Rockett St. George

DesignSponge Home Tour
The living room and the kitchen are on the main floor. "Most pieces here have history or a story behind them. I love the coffee table, it is vintage art-decó with a mirrored top and was from my husband's family home. The two 50s armchairs came from my grandmother in quite a bad condition, so we fixed and reupholstered them. The painting on the wall was the first one I painted in my new home."
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Sleek minimalism at its best with these concrete stairs and floors. "The concrete flooring is one of the things I love best about my home. Clean, textured, cool in the summer and warm in the winter (by underfloor heating system)."
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"The entryway to our home is quite small, so we want it to be uncluttered - but it still feels personal. We found the iron table at a brocante in France and the mirror was a wedding gift to my mom, so I have fond memories of seeing my reflection in it since I was a kid. I was very happy when she passed it on to me. I have a thing for lamps, especially vintage modern, so I thought this classic design rounded the space pretty well."
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A gallery wall showcasing art pieces from friends and other artists Esti admires, along with some of her own works. "The white bar cart was a very lucky score I made at a French brocante. It's an original Matthieu Mategot design, fixed and repainted. I love its delicacy."
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Pieces by Javier Cámara, Esti, Ortiz Alfaro, John Franks and Lisa Solomon.
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The family chose a white kitchen because they were afraid of not having enough light in the house. In keeping with the minimalist vibe, Esti admits, "Also, truth is I don't cook, so I wanted something practical, uncomplicated and unsophisticated."
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The dining area is in the open kitchen. "I struggle not to fill the wall up with more art. Succeeding so far, but cannot promise it. By the way, the tulip chairs are my favorite."
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Esti made this portrait of her husband over 15 years ago. "It is now looking at us when we eat. We call it El Califa."
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View of the living room from the mezzanine. "My favorite view in the house. My cousin gave me his two Eames chairs when he went abroad for his PhD. They were in poor condition so we tried our best to fix them."
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This is Esti's studio on the mezzanine floor, overlooking the living room. It has loads of light and it's quiet.
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Both Esti and her husband have previous backgrounds in music, hence the collection of CDs. Her husband loves old cameras and shooting film and those cameras up top are part of his growing collection.
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Guest bed in the studio. "At the far end you can see one of the many Fase lamps which had been dumped at the University when they were replaced by modern fixtures, and my husband recovered [them]."
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The town has a huge surf community and most of their friends and neighbors surf. Esti reports, "My husband and the girls are learning to surf now, but I wouldn't call them surfers just yet. My husband was more of a skater."
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"This is our main bedroom. Because of its narrowness we needed extra-narrow bedside tables, thus the old school chair and the black little table. I bought that Amanda Blake's little painting at Enormous Tiny Art because I saw myself in it."
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"This is how different pieces from very different origins and eras end up in the same corner."
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Their daughters' bedroom is the largest and overlooks the patio. "The credenza was one of the first furniture pieces I inherited from my grandmother. For a long time it was kept at her home with a note with my name on it, before I could come and collect it when the house was finally built."
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An inherited wardrobe which they repainted. Now it's full of their daughters' books and games. I love the mirror on one side, which is an original feature.
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In the girls' bedroom there is a wall full of art pieces by several artists. Esti painted the two portraits and the limited-edition letterpress is by Gemma Correll.
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  • Such a beautiful home – I love the warm accents against the modern background. It seems like such a personal space, yet nicely uncluttered.

  • Wonderful photos from a wonderful home inhabited by wonderful people whom I have the pleasure to know quite well… and who happen not to be Mariano Ortega and his family, as the caption in Facebook says… ;)

    I’ve had the luck of seeing Esti’s process from old to modern and I have to say that the outcome of both architect and owners’ work is really stunning.

  • Beautiful home! I love Esti’s illustrations and her instagram is one of my favorites, her way of capturing the world is so inspiring. Also, I appreciate seeing fellow spaniards and their homes featured in Design Sponge… a little bit of homesick, maybe?