Tucked away in the historic center of Palma de Mallorca is San Gaieta, a 16-century palace that has been transformed into a colorful, comfortable modern residence. Italian architect and interior designer Teresa Sapey conceived and executed the design for the property, making it a totally customized home.
The building — San Gaieta — has a fascinating history, having been built by a pirate from Genoa. At one point, part if it was destroyed by fire in an act of arson, intended to frighten its owner, an Italian corsair, who was reviled in the city. Over the years, a number of renovations had changed the interior before Sapey purchased it in 2016.
Located in «la milla de oro» (the Golden Mile), a luxury shopping area, the Lonja neighborhood is a highly sought after area. In recreating the residence, Sapey decided to use both the wing that was traditionally reserved for nobility and the section that was intended for servants. The building features a variety of historic royal architectural elements, including distinctive windows and 5-meter high ceilings, and she expanded the space while maintaining the building’s traditional elements aspects.
Sun filters through the windows from the courtyard into the entryway, which is more than just a transition from the outdoors to the living spaces. It melds the historic exterior with the modern design of the interior by masterfully combining furniture and decor from the various eras. Traditional accessories on the left of the foyer are juxtaposed with modern, geometric head planters in a vivid chartreuse. The pendant light has a modern design but still evokes the feeling of a vintage fixture.
Accent walls were repainted with strong, bright colors in the modern living area. This is a bold contrast for a structure that has its origins in the 16th century, but Sapey wanted the project to reflect her creative soul and artistic spirit. In doing so, she transformed tribute to Majorca. Vivid versions of the colors found on the island and in the Mediterranean region figure prominently in the home: acid yellow that is reminiscent of lemons the warm Mediterranean sun; the blue of the sea and sky, as well as the green of nature.
Throughout the home, Sapey included decor items that she and her team designed and produced. The team also created the murals in the home.
The living room carries through the use of chartreuse and starts to pull in the bright blue hies as well. At one end, the feeling is a bit more muted thanks to the underlying neutral palette. The white furniture and subdued decor are a marked contrast to the other end of the room that is anchored by a colorful feature wall.
Sporting a variety of shades of aqua and blue, it has a completely different feel. The furniture at this end is far more modern and distinctive and the white only serves to highlight further the blues used on the wall.
The contrast of modern design against the Moorish window is especially intriguing. Minimalist and white, the table is a perfect display spot for the modern sculptures, framed by the more ornate window shape. You might have thought this would clash, but the artistic combination is fresh and cohesive.
Just off the entryway near the living room is the formal dining room. Because this is an interior space, it is defined by three windowless walls. The main source of natural light is windows that line the entryway on the other side of the single column. It could be a very dark space, but Sapey added a mirrored wall at the back, directly opposite the windows. This not only reflects more light, it gives the confined space a much less restrictive feeling and opens up the area.
The furniture in the dining again eases an element of modern into the space. A large tiled, hairpin-leg table is paired with a similar bench and a row of more traditional dining chairs on the back side of the table. The contemporary pieces sit atop a conservative carpet and a traditional still life painting hangs on the wall. The mix creates a smart and modern setting for entertaining.
The design for the eat-in kitchen also mixes traditional pieces with modern features. Whitewalls and trim frame the room, accented by the swirl of stairs in the corner. A modern light fixture is positioned above a table paired with very traditional wooden dining chairs. An imposing wooden armoire is a focal point at the end of the kitchen. On top are three geometric head planters that are smaller versions of the chartreuse pieces found in the entryway. The family-friendly space is easy care and uncluttered.
Punctuated by bright greens, the master bedroom features an original mural that serves as a room divider as well. The natural feeling of the leaves and branches complement the colors and white background. Long linen panels that pool on the floor heighten the space visually and frame the large windows. It is a natural and relaxing space, accented with modern pieces like the occasional table and clear armchair.
Tiling in a neutral grayish beige is ideal for the minimalist design. Modern fixtures and open shelving keep the space light and open, even though natural light is minimal since the window is by the shower area. The taller ceiling also helps keep the spac efom feeling confined.
Similarly, a second bathroom has a brown tile base and contemporary styling with a long horizontal mirror above the vanity. Sea green accents enliven the area and handy baskets provide storage space in the open shelving.
A second bedroom is bright with various hues of blue. The white headboard is a work of art with a 3-D relief of stylized geometric flowers and it is paired with a coverlet on the bed that has a very natural and organic feeling. Striped of Ikat on the throw pillows and a similar textile on the ball-shaped pillow are fitting accents. The biggest pop of modern flair in the room comes from the blue bench, which features undulating sides and tapered squat legs.
A guest room is also done in shades of blue with the bed done up almost as if it were a daybed. Hairpin legs, similar to those in the dining room, support the organically shaped desk. The modern piece is paired with a decidedly traditional armchair in a traditional dark wood. The head-shaped vase accessory that sits on the table is a consistent accent piece throughout the residence.
A similar chair sits in the hallway, the style of which is more conservative than the decor in the individual rooms throughout the home. Traditional art graces the walls, more in line with the traditional exterior.
A third bedroom is nearly all white, save for the pops of color that come from the unusual pink cushion and the green of the artwork on the wall. The nightstands echo the style of the tables elsewhere in the home and the Ghost chair at the desk adds an iconic design feature. A modern light fixture spans the room above the head of the bed and the lamps on the nightstand have the same shape as the pendants in the entryway.
The front of the building features a small balcony with wrought iron railing and a breezy sunshade curtain that provides privacy. On the inside, flanked by the planters on the ledge, the balcony is set up with a cafe table and chairs. It is the perfect hideaway for enjoying a cup of coffee and intimate conversation. Or, fling aside the curtain and soak up some sun.