”Welcome to our open house”

Carmen and José Luis have created an inviting home that they share regularly with family and friends. ”This is our time to kick back and relax,” says Carmen. ”And we can in this house, which is open to nature, to laughter and always to guests.”

Meet Carmen and José Luis

”José Luis and I met 16 years ago when he moved to Málaga for his job. Between us we have four children from previous marriages. And a grandchild, too. We built this house ourselves, for all the family to use as a country house during weekends and holidays.”

Our style

”We wanted the house to look like it belonged in the countryside, so we used traditional Andalucian building methods and natural materials, like clay tiles and wooden beams. Villa Fuente Santa is warm, comfortable and filled with light. Simplicity rules in our home.”

Our home room by room

”Take the indoors out”

”We designed this house to accommodate lots of people outside – we spend as much time out here as we do inside. The covered porch runs around the outside of the house and we’ve furnished it like any indoor room to make our time out here comfortable.”

”Celebrate each meal”

”This space is a meeting point for family and friends. Good food is at the heart of our gatherings but we don’t wait for a special occasion to turn a meal into a celebration. A table set with crisp linen, fresh flowers and filled with happy guests is all we need.”

”Use furniture outside”

”We furnished the house with traditional and antique finds, many of which we restored ourselves, mixed with pieces from IKEA which we customised to look old, and natural fabrics. Since we spend so much time on our porch, a lot of our furniture is lightweight and carried outdoors to be used there as well.”

”Add extra work surfaces”

”Our kitchen is compact – a simple galley design which opens out to the living room. To give ourselves extra work surfaces and break up the open space, we added an IKEA island unit. The shelves underneath mean we can store our crockery close to the door – handy when we want to grab a stack for a spontaneous dinner party.”

”Create a cool retreat”

”The weather in spain is so sunny most of the year that time spent inside is mostly just for sleeping. This means the bedroom is very important. We keep furniture to a minimum and use light textiles to create a cool retreat.”

Our tips and ideas

Age your furniture

”To give our new IKEA kitchen island a more rustic look, I sanded and polished each piece before we assembled it. We finished it off with a few layers of transparent varnish, sanding between each layer to make it more resistant to scratches and spills.”

Display your collections to add character

”In the kitchen I display my collection of antique tins among my crockery on open shelves. It gives the room a traditional feel even though it is fitted out with new appliances.”

Set the scene

”We use plenty of candles of different shapes, flowers in vases, cushions and background music to create a relaxed atmosphere on our porch when we have friends over. Food made with love and good wine play an important role, too!”

Put things where you need and use them most

”Since we entertain so often, we installed a kitchen outside, on our porch. This means whoever is making the meal can be with others while they cook – the chef shouldn’t have to work alone!”

José Luis’s recipes

”Good food is the best way to impress guests, and good food needs fresh ingredients. We grow our own seasonal vegetables and a variety of herbs, and try always to include them in our cooking.”

‘For large gatherings, we make a big main course, which we place on its own table and let everyone help themselves. Otherwise we prepare a tasting menu.’