This property was constructed 45 years ago by the owner and probably looked much as it did on the completion of the build. Floors throughout were covered with a 1970s brown and yellow glazed tile and the house was filled with dark oak furniture. All of the windows and patio doors were aluminium framed, fitted with tinted, almost black glass.

Through the front door we entered the narrow dark hallway with a typical panelled dark wood wall separating it from the living room. My wife, Rikke walked in front of me with the owner and I followed, surveying the possibilities of putting right the many wrongs. Entering the living room, which was dominated by a marble chimney breast and a long wood dresser, she turned to me and said, “There’s no garden.” We had passed through the front garden but somehow both of us had expected the property to open up at the back. Before I had even reached where she stood I had decided to leave.

Stepping out on the terrace, I was faced with the neighbouring property and a window overlooking us, and now I was definitely leaving! As I waited for the right moment to exit I found myself reconsidering my observations. To my left here was a drop away to a lower unused area below. The east boundary of the property is some 15 metres from this point and although at the time the space was useless, I imagined a floating deck extending all the way to the edge of the grounds. This would create a 20m2 rear terrace directly off the living area (which I now envisaged should have a bifold door system opening the house to the outside) which could be the first key to making the property work.

There is no rear garden, no great expanse of grass and not even an outdoor pool. However, there could be a fantastic ‘Party’ terrace for entertaining and enjoying the limited but apparent sea view. The orientation is also good with the sun rising and setting on this side of the house in the winter. This deck terrace could be completely transformed with a Jacuzzi, lighting and obviously some ‘screening’ to both focus the view away from the negatives and toward the positives. The party terrace was the inspiration that opened my eyes to the possibilities of this home and how it should be designed from then onwards.

I knew from the outset that we would retain the fundamental exterior character of the property. I am not a lover of the glass and concrete equilateral newcomers to the Costa Del Sol as I believe their place is perhaps more suited to Ibiza and Kos and not Andalucía. There has been no attention to retaining real Andalusian character on the Coast and this has disappointed me. I think the only reason there has been a success in the new build sector is due to a lack of alternative luxury modern property that remains consistent with the heritage here.

Number 40’s interior, however, should always appeal to the most modern taste. I feel there is a way of combining classic and contemporary influences with modern and even ultra-modern ones to achieve a timeless blend of coherent styles. My mission was to redistribute the space in the house, which clearly lacked definition, while improving practicality and enhancing its usability. The house should be dazzling but without the ‘bling.’ There would be little or no shiny things here.

Continuing with the exterior, we have made some important changes to the front of the property. Adding some faux pillars, a patio door and a section of roof have given the property the symmetry it lacked before. I didn’t want to go down the ‘RAL colour 7016′ Anthracite’ road. This could be the most popular new window frame colour available right now, especially for perceivably modern properties. For me, this use of grey frames means either no consistency with interior decoration or ‘going grey’ throughout. Instead, I first chose a colour which would open up the possibilities I needed. I arranged for the windows, doors and patio doors to be powder-coated in a bespoke colour with a textured finish. At the same time, I was looking everywhere for a modern strong wood effect material which could feature throughout. I tracked down a perfect warm oak material with excellent structure, texture and colour.

Meanwhile, we were searching for porcelain tiles for the flooring and bathrooms. I finalised on a light tone large format tile for the floor which could swing many ways depending on its companion colour. This maintains almost perfectly neutrality for me – when a product is neither one colour or another but contains enough pigment to blend effectively across greys, browns, beiges, mushroom and taupes. The floor was chosen for almost the entire home, another key decision in my design inception.

With the floor option and the wood effect material decided, I could now find the accompaniments more easily. Keraben supplied us with the porcelain flooring throughout and also for some of the larger bathroom areas. Porcelanosa provided us with many of the decorative tiles that give Number 40 its texture inside. I like the more incisive nature of the textures within the Porcelanosa range.

Even the curves and waves have an edginess metaphorically as well as physically that light loves to illuminate and where shadows lie more pronounced. Porcelanosa are super clever with their repetition too, concealing how frequently the pattern repeats within a segment of the bigger picture. If you do notice it, it becomes even more satisfying as your eye appreciates that upper-level pattern. I can clearly see the value in a well-designed quality tile and although it isn’t obvious why, I think everyone else feels it too.

I wanted each and every room within the home to feel different but not so much as if it were not a part of the whole. All the bathrooms have their own ‘theme’, featuring walls and co-ordination but not all with matching tiles and furniture. I deliberately designed the bedrooms with different wardrobe systems according to the space. A sliding wardrobe arrangement should always be between two walls. They are awkward when designed with exposed ends.

The hinged white wardrobes in the rear ground floor bedroom were designed with space around, because I wanted to keep the large patio door onto the dining terrace which offers a sea view from the bed. The coffee lacquered wardrobes separated by the huge bespoke fabric headboard sit either side of the recessed shower in the adjacent bathroom. They were governed by the necessary shower space behind.

The master suite seemed more suited to a small walk-in wardrobe rather than wardrobes actually in the room. I wanted to keep this bedroom free from too much visual interference, retaining a spacious feel. The optical focus in this bedroom is the sea view though the patio door to the enclosed terrace, as well as the new picture window. Previously, this window was a quarter of its new size and I never understood how this came about given the aspect. This window, like all other apertures to the outside world, has the frame installed to the outside of the recess.

In the UK and other Northern European countries this is normal but rarely seen in southern Spain. Windows in southern Spain are normally installed on the inside of a recess with a sill on the outside which is pitched downwards and tiled. All of the windows and patio doors at Number 40 are installed to the outside of the recess. I have lined the inner side of the recesses with the wood effect material in many of these apertures. This has created a ‘frame’ to the outside world as well as a practical shelf or seat and curtain or blind reveal.

The kitchen is importantly open to the living area but retains a separate room feel. I designed the kitchen to the final shape that fits my idea of a modern kitchen right now. At the high end of kitchen design there is a trend to consolidate a colour and texture resulting in a solid distinction. The colour is actually matched to the windows and I was lucky enough to find a hard surface worktop which is almost identical. The floating narrow units that surround the deeper wood-effect drawers accent the flatness and solidity of the rest of the design.

Another element that I knew I wanted to work with in Number 40 was copper. It’s always been a favourite of mine and the natural element even reacts to oxidisation in such a fine way. The backsplash on the right side is real slate that has a beautiful copper tone running through it. The slate also clearly swings grey/green and reminds me of the typical colour of copper oxidisation. I have used a few polished copper elements in the kitchen and this is the closest we have come to shiny bling in the project, but they accent the dark tones of the matte lacquer and stonework surfaces well. I did choose a copper extractor to float over the island hob but in the end, I felt it would dominate and contradict rather than complement the kitchen. I selected a well-designed stainless steel canopy instead that was powder-coated with the same finish as the windows, matching the kitchen as well.

Interesting features throughout the property include a ‘curved wave’ ceiling from the ground floor to the lower floor Spa and Cinema/Bar/NightClub. The master stairwell wall wraps under with a curve and meets the main hallway bulkhead; this was actually to improve headroom coming down the stairs but it has created a nice detail.

Another flat ceiling curves down and meets the vertical wall and lighting recess behind the bath in the ‘Curve bathroom’. This bathroom also houses the recessed shower which hides between the wardrobes in bedroom 2.

I have a newly found love of artificial plants. All of the plants displayed at Number 40 are ultra-real and species-specific. Their detail is far removed from our traditional idea of synthetic plants and they are important given current trends. A planter under the open staircase framed by the first stair to the master suite enhances the hallway. A dead space under the new deck above created the opportunity for a Zen space to relax after a big night in the Nightclub Cinema. Light to this area flows through the partial glass floor of the upper deck.

Lighting recesses in many areas enhance rooms while offering low-level practical lighting and bedtime reading solutions; USB sockets in these recesses can feed your demanding device. Bedroom 5/gym looks out to the Zen garden and onto the Indoor Spa area incorporating the indoor heated pool, Finnish dry Sauna and a separate Turkish steam room.

The upper floor master suite is very private and boasts panoramic sea views, ensuite shower room, walk-in wardrobe, and another private Zen terrace with glass curtains and outdoor terrace. Fruit and olive trees, Gabion cage columns and obscure glass carefully screen to help disguise the proximity problems associated with ‘beach side of the A7’ living in east Marbella. Natural multicolour copper slate feature walls around the property and over the Jacuzzi terrace are topped with natural wood screen fencing in a similar colour. A bridge built from the front garden now connects with the side and then rear party terrace. The filling of a deep void on the east side of the property closed the unnecessary windows into the Cinema/Club and means you can now walk all the way around the house amplifying the modest plot.

Multi-level ceilings offer lighting features as well as creating visual depth in many communal areas as well as in all bedrooms. Number 40 feels organic without being Bohemian. I have achieved this by the use of natural-looking materials, not in their raw state but with an engineered edge. Matte and textured surfaces, cut natural cork, refined slate, stone, even the wood effect porcelain tiles have a very natural wood appearance but with a structured and engineered shape.

The wave effects in the bathroom tiles resemble ripples of nature but have obviously been engineered and the colour tones in general can all be easily found in our more earthy surroundings. Various curved smooth ceilings and structured parametric features to the pool area and the office bedroom add to the organic nature of the concept. On completion, Number 40, even when not lived in, feels naturally comfortable and organic. Friendly, opulent and yet modest at the same time, above all a home. For me, this is job done!


The villa is currently on sale. For further information contact Lee Boote on Tel: (+34) 667 734 234 or email