Joan Lao, Adalina Coromines, and Africa Lao Turn an Old Spanish Farmhouse Into an Incredible Home

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By Michele Koh Morollo
In the Baix Empordà region of Spain, a creative family transforms a 17th-century Catalonian farmhouse into a live/work and exhibition space.

Catalan painter Adalina Coromines, designer Joan Lao, and their daughter, designer Africa Lao were looking for a special place where there they could connect with nature and live and work sustainably. After five years of looking around the world for the perfect spot, they found a 17th-century Catalan farmhouse not too far from Barcelona, which had just the right personality.

"Our project is based on the idea of creating a unique space for living, art, painting, design, meetings, and presentations in one place," says Joan Lao.

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The restored 17th-century farmhouse in the Baix Empordà region of Spain.

The restored 17th-century farmhouse in the Baix Empordà region of Spain.

The 17th-century farmhouse is made entirely of natural stone.

The 17th-century farmhouse is made entirely of natural stone.

The entryway of the renovated farmhouse.

The entryway of the renovated farmhouse.

Set upon a 62-acre farm fringed by native cork oaks, holm oaks, chestnut, and walnut trees, the 2,625-square-foot building now serves as a painting studio for Coromines, and a creative studio for Joan and Africa. 

 Furniture by Joan Lao design studio for Alternative. 

 Furniture by Joan Lao design studio for Alternative. 

Paintings by Adalina Coromines.

Paintings by Adalina Coromines.

Working together, the family revitalized the farmhouse with a floor plan that includes reception spaces, meeting rooms, art and design exhibition galleries, experimental rooms, living spaces, and areas that can be set up for photography shoots. 

Paintings by Adalina Coromines.

Paintings by Adalina Coromines.

Collection Natural Textures, designed by Joan Lao Design studio for Barcelona Rugs.

Collection Natural Textures, designed by Joan Lao Design studio for Barcelona Rugs.

The renovation restored many of the original building materials—including the natural stone and clay walls and floors, and the untreated wood trunk beams. Sections of the walls are now plastered with mortar. 

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The Allstone Kitchen Collection designed by Joan Lao Design studio.

The Allstone Kitchen Collection designed by Joan Lao Design studio.

A table and chairs designed by Joan Lao design studio for Alternative.

A table and chairs designed by Joan Lao design studio for Alternative.

The concept for the redesign began with the desire to make the most of the original structural elements, materials, and textures of the old farmhouse. The project also sought to incorporate modern comforts and technology to create an optimum environment for creating and showcasing the work of the painter and designers. "It was almost a work of archeology," says Joan Lao. 

Lizzo curtains. 

Lizzo curtains. 

Joan and Africa Lao were responsible for the conceptualization of the interiors and the choice of textures and patinas. Coromines was responsible for the color scheme and the artwork that hangs on the walls. Joan Lao Design Studio created most of the furniture and home accessories. 

The Hidden Light Collection designed by Joan Lao Design studio for Fambuena. 

The Hidden Light Collection designed by Joan Lao Design studio for Fambuena. 

Solar panels, a wooden boiler heating system, and water sourced from an old well in the basement result in a building that is both eco friendly and self sustaining. 

The Allstone bathroom furniture collection designed by Joan Lao Design studio.

The Allstone bathroom furniture collection designed by Joan Lao Design studio.

"The project has been carried out at all times in a holistic manner, taking into account all the elements involved, the concept, the environment, the architecture, the interior design, the aesthetics, the ecology, sustainability, and energy consumption," says Joan Lao. 

Painter Adalina Coromines at work.

Painter Adalina Coromines at work.

"The house has been built with totally ecological techniques and materials. For us, respect for nature, physical, mental, and emotional health is very important, we even organically cultivate most of our food," says Africa Lao.

Project Credits: 

Interior Design: Joan Lao Design Studio / @joanlao_studio

Paintings: Adalina Coromines / @adalinacoromines

Wood Coating: Livewood Collection by Joan Lao Design Studio for MH Parquets 

Furniture: Joan Lao Design Studio for Alternative 

Lighting: Hidden Light Collection by Joan Lao Design Studio for Fambuena 

Kitchen and Bathroom Furniture: Allstone Collection by Joan Lao Design Studio 

Fabrics: Lizzo 

Pictorial Coatings: Graphenstone 

Carpets: Collection Natural Textures by Joan Lao Design Studio for Barcelona Rugs 

Curtains: Cortinas Llado 

Mechanism Lighting: Jung 

Photography: Eugeni Pons