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Buying and renovating a property in Deià, Mallorca – A conversation with Kate Fay about embarking on a new chapterSeptember 21, 2021

On a glorious summer morning, I’m sitting with Kate Fay, owner of the newly renovated Ca na Escarlata just outside Deià to talk about how she bought, renovated and created such a breathtaking home.

We’re sitting in the shade, dangling our feet in the water of Kate’s beautiful pool while she tells the heartwarming story of discovering the house, falling in love with it and deciding to embark on a renovation and interior design project.

It’s a very different house from the one she bought in early 2020.

Ca na Escarlata sits on around 10,000 square metres of land in the area of Son Coll, tucked away close to Deià and just a short walk away from the secluded beach of Llucalcari

The house has four bedrooms and a guest casita with lush greenery and fragrant lavender just outside the door. Reflected in the casita bathroom mirror is the gorgeous sea view. Kate’s guests are already arguing over who will get to sleep in the casita.

From the living room and master en-suite bedroom of the main house there are spectacular views of the sea, the horizon fading into the sky.

You could spend an entire holiday drifting from lazing by the pool to taking a long, leisurely lunch under the pergola to sneaking off for a siesta to sipping an evening cocktail as the sun melts into the sea, followed by a candle lit barbeque. On the light, refreshing breeze floats the aroma of pines.

When the seasons change and it gets a little chilly, and the breeze brings with it the evocative scent of wood smoke, you can enjoy the sea view from the bathtub while taking a deliciously warm bubble bath.

Finding the right home in the Tramuntana mountains

Kate and her family had been to Deià a few times and had been looking for houses in and around the village for a while. They spotted Ca na Escarlata on the Charles Marlow website.

‘It was a little quirky, but the views were absolutely incredible. Something about the house really appealed to me and I kept going back to it,’ Kate says. ‘Maybe two years later, we were back in Mallorca and having lunch in Deià and I made an excuse to go to your offices. Fortunately, you were there. I asked you if we could view the house and luckily you had time.’

Kate went back to the restaurant and told her partner Gary and daughter they had 15 minutes to finish because they were going to look at a house. They went and fell in love, mostly with the amazing view.

‘The house itself felt unloved and sad,’ Kate says. ‘The house had been done up,’ she explains, ‘but not in a way that was intrinsic to the soul of the place, or which respected the countryside in which it sits. I wanted to create something honest, inspired by its surroundings, and Mallorcan.’

Kate and Gary took lots of photos, went back to the UK, and had a think.

The before photos of the house.
The before photos of the house.

And that was that. They bought Ca na Escarlata.

The renovation begins with Hudson Arquitectos

The journey began with choosing the right architect. Charles Marlow recommended highly experienced architect Peter Hudson to do the survey.

As it turns out, he joined Kate on her renovation journey all the way to its perfect conclusion.

‘Peter has the safest pair of hands,’ Kate says, ‘and his builder Miguel is excellent. I’ve not felt worried or concerned about anything. This was especially important as we were renovating Ca na Escarlata remotely from the UK.’

She continues, ‘It wasn’t just peace of mind. Peter is creative and thinks really hard about how space can be used. It was his idea to build a pergola in a space that was unusable because it had no shade and transform it. The ironworkers he found to make it did a gorgeous job.’

Inside of the house, Peter’s creativity and professionalism also shines through.

‘Peter also did wonderful work on the bathrooms and kitchen. He’s really exceeded all our expectations, always available, kind and easy to deal with. I couldn’t recommend him highly enough.’


Designing a new home – with Rialto Living

When Kate was starting out, we sent her a list of interior designers and furniture shops.

‘I saw Rialto Living,’ Kate laughs. ‘And there wasn’t really another choice. I’m a trained interior designer and had already made lots of floor plans but I ended up leaving it all to Jaume at Rialto Living. He’s done a beautiful job, on time and on budget. There’s not one thing in the house that we’ve selected together that I’m not super-happy with. Jaume’s also a lovely person to work with.’

 

Local Deià art by Leila Ward

Naturally, the art one chooses for an interior is an important part of creating the right effect. Kate saw a painting by Deià artist Leila Ward at Rialto Living and loved it. As tends to happen in Deià, where there’s no such thing as coincidence, she met Leila at the Charles Marlow summer party down at S’Hortet in the Clot, for which Kate did the flowers.

‘I bought three of Leila’s paintings,’ Kate says, ‘but, gosh, I could have bought many more. Leila’s work feels Mallorcan and authentic and so connected with nature. The painting in our little casita, in particular, is so lovely. It almost feels like a little window.’

‘The painting in the little casita almost looks like a window.’
Deià artist Leila Ward seeing her art for the first time in Ca na Escarlata.
One of Leila’s paintings in the master bedroom.

Working with local artisans

‘I touched the stone and actually cried. It felt so overwhelming. We’d been doing everything from afar and I’d had this pent-up desire for many months.’

Because of the pandemic, Kate had to do everything from the UK. On 31 May this year, she finally saw how Ca na Escarlata had been renovated.

‘I touched the stone and actually cried. It felt so overwhelming. We’d been doing everything from afar and I’d had this pent-up desire for many months.’

Fortunately, during those months, Kate had felt safe, and somewhat relaxed, thanks to thinking long and hard before making her choice of architects, designers and house managers.

‘Despite the challenges created by the pandemic,’ Kate says, ‘and everything that goes with renovating a house from a distance, this has been a seamless, honest experience. The help you gave us with introducing us to lawyers, to Peter Hudson and the various artisans has been simply amazing. Pep, who looks after the house for us, is fantastic.’

Kate with a friend from London, me (Maria) and Joanna the local ceramicist in Deià at our intimate garden summer party in S´Hortet  summer 2021

Wandering around Ca na Escarlata with Kate, it’s clear how much sheer care and attention has gone into the renovation.

Kate smiles. ‘Absolutely. The local artisans we met through you and commissioned have put their hearts and souls into making our home something special. They’ve used the right materials. They understand things like the way interiors are affected by climate, even how the wardrobes need to be. And they tell me that they’re super-proud of the renovation and happy they’ve helped create something special.’

As for Deià itself, Kate ‘finds it to be a really friendly community and everyone you speak to has such an interesting story.’

Settling into Deià – and looking ahead

Sitting with our feet in the pool, it’s clear to me how much Kate loves Ca na Escarlata and the landscape in which her dream home sits.

‘We just want to spend as much time as we can here,’ she says. ‘I sit with my family and watch the landscape change colour throughout the day, especially the sea. We’re starting to recognise the boats now. “Twilight” is a favourite boat. We’re also still exploring our land. We’ve found all sorts of little gems we didn’t know we had access to. And I’m just thrilled by the way everyone who comes here tells me that the house feels so loved. Mostly, I feel like I’m starting a very special new chapter in life.’

Architect: Hudson Arquitectos

Interior design: Rialto Living

Art: Leila Ward

Real estate agency: Charles Marlow & Bros

Photographer & videographer: Ida Carlsson

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