Long Abandoned, a 1930s Home in the Canary Islands Is Now a Feast of Charm

Long Abandoned, a 1930s Home in the Canary Islands Is Now a Feast of Charm

For their own home and studio, the founders of Five Oh Five Design revitalized an aging house in the Spanish city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

When María León Ferreiro and Eduardo López Solórzano first set eyes on an early 20th-century home in the Toscal neighborhood of Spain’s Tenerife Island, they were dubious. "The house was absolutely derelict," says María, who founded Five Oh Five with her partner, Eduardo, in London in 2015. "It was owned by the bank and had been unoccupied for years, and previous to that there had been squatters."

Despite a profusion of accretions that had accumulated over time, including doors covered by brick or eaten by woodworms, failing aluminum windows, and layers of paint and wallpaper, the couple couldn’t resist the property’s 1930s charm. "Even though the house was in bad condition, you could see the potential," says María. "We loved it from the first viewing."

 The house, originally designed by Antonio Pintor Ocete—the city’s municipal architect at the turn of the 20th century who is credited for bringing modernism to the Canary Islands—was dripping with his trademark eclecticism. "Ocete’s architecture combines neoclassical order and rigor with simple ornamentation of his own invention," explains María. "We really identified with this type of rationalism full of beauty."

The dual-level home is divided into two separate flats, with the street-level unit functioning as the couple’s office. "In this sense, the home and studio are not integrated in the same space," says María. "It works well because it’s handy, but we can also close the office physically when the work day is over."

Besides the appealing spatial layout, the couple was captivated by the home’s high ceilings, large doors and windows, and brightly patterned encaustic floor tiles punctuating many of the rooms. "We also loved the original lime paint that we painstakingly revealed after removing many layers of wallpaper and paint," María says. "This finding became the common thread of the refurbishment."

The original marbleized pastel paint in many of the rooms is complemented by fresh plaster and new coats of paint on the lower half of walls. "The balance between this weathered beauty and the new color palette creates a harmonious atmosphere," explains María. Removing a partition that separated the living and dining areas, replacing interior wooden doors, and adding new pistachio-lacquered aluminum windows completed the transformation.

Inside, the family’s heirloom furnishings and playful, spirited décor—including a particularly jolly pair of dining room vases shaped as the heads of Sicilian kings, and a preserved Depeche Mode wall painting in the primary bedroom—riff on the eclecticism of Ocete’s architecture. The result is a comfortable space that offers up delightful moments of joy and surprise. "We’re always looking for opportunities to qualify a space and make it different or unexpected," says María. "We need to have fun in our practice, so we’re constantly seek that feeling of ‘OH!’"

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