A Careful Renovation Brings New Life to a Family’s Heritage Home on the Spanish Coast

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By Julia Brenner / Published by Dwell
Thanks to a careful renovation that included a handful of preservation challenges, a family's Spanish beach house is given new life—and a big dose of light.

Situated along the historic Camí de Ronda footpath in Spain's Costa Brava region, the Es Garbi beach house was renovated by Nook Architects to reflect the light and tranquility of the surrounding Mediterranean landscape, as well as to function as a well-designed family home.  

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When the team at Nook Architects initially approached the project, they looked for ways to extend the home's inherent connection to the sea. After all, the exterior construction leads step-by-step down to the beach, while the home itself is situated along Camí de Ronda, a stunning coastal trail.

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"We sought to create a dialogue between the original elements and new traditional materials, with noble but austere finishes throughout the home. The footprint of the Mediterranean is present in this rehabilitation." 

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While the firm was able to complete the concept and layout fairly quickly, the renovation took two years to complete, due to construction restriction times. They weren't allowed to work during prime beach days in order to avoid disturbing visitors. Additionally, they faced a lengthy permit process, as the home and surrounding area is protected by heritage and coastal laws.

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To protect the heritage status of the home, various original elements had to be preserved, such as the ceramic walls and flooring and wood-trimmed windows and ceiling beams. 

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The team chose to introduce materials that would complement existing elements in fresh ways, like the addition of contemporary ceramic tiles, hardwood floors, and custom built-ins.  

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New materials were brought into the space for both functional and aesthetic purposes. This includes concrete used for the flooring and countertops, as well as steel, which was used to create hanger bars, the pergola, and several fittings.

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Concrete acts as an updated nod to the natural stone that was traditionally used for kitchen and bathroom counters and sinks. 

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The melding together of new materials and traditional elements is evident throughout the home and creates a dynamic interior environment that feels modern and classic at the same time.  

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Since the original home wasn't suffused with that much light, the design team was challenged with introducing natural light in ways that would open the interiors to the coastline.

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One of the main goals of the renovation was to have light flow from the top-floor bedrooms to the main living areas—thus having light cascade throughout the home and down to the sea. 

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 "The light should follow the stairs and be present throughout the whole house, from the street entrance to the beach exit."

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Another major achievement of the renovation was connecting the main living areas with the outdoor terrace, so that there would be a flowing "relationship" to allow for a vibrant indoor/outdoor living space (or central community gathering area) when the terrace doors are open. 

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Creating openness and connectivity with both the home and the Mediterranean landscape is an incredible achievement of this renovation. The process, led by Nook, highlights the possibilities that exist when you respect tradition, embrace modern architecture, and work in harmony with your natural surroundings and resources—all at the same time. 

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