elledecor– Seagulls, ships, and crashing waves sing to the residents of Mahón, a storied town on the Spanish island of Menorca. In an 18th-century villa on one of the oldest streets in town, this seaside symphony weaves seamlessly through layers of history. The house was most recently rehabilitated by the Madrid-based designer Lorenzo Castillo for one of his longtime clients. “Above everything, Lorenzo is an antiques dealer,” says the man, who has commissioned 10 projects from Castillo over the last two decades. “Because of this, he is very coherent in how he blends fabrics and furniture. The house in Menorca is a mishmash of things, but there is a connecting thread.”
In this instance, the client, a father of four who lives in London and Madrid, proved a congenial copycat; he asked Castillo to find him a summer house similar to the designer’s own retreat in Menorca. Castillo did one better and found his client a house on his very own street. For the designer, there is no better place. “Even the color of the water here is unique, changing from turquoise to deep green depending on the color of the sand,” Castillo says of the island’s allure. “I wanted to incorporate all of the feelings and sensations you get from being here through color, layering, mixing patterns, and natural materials.”
Apart from its stunning natural setting, Menorca’s draw owes much to its rich history. The island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, has long been a lure for outsiders, playing host to the ancient Greeks and Romans as well as the Muslim caliphs who occupied the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century. Later, Menorca switched hands among the English, French, and Spanish due to a succession of wars and treaties, leaving traces of influences from Georgian to Regency to Castilian. In this melting pot of periods and places, Castillo concocted a delicate confection of a home informed by his background as an art historian, dealer, and designer. “The first time I saw the house it was in its pristine original state,” he marvels. “We started with a long restoration, unearthing the old wall colors where we could, and replacing wood beams only where necessary.” Floors that could not be saved were retiled, setting a neutral base for patterned textiles. Lighting came next, followed by contemporary art and antiques of the sort that only an expert like Castillo could secure during a pandemic.