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Tucked into the rolling, green hills of Collserola, sits a picturesque, wooden cabin. For Chantal and Gavin, “it was love at first sight.” After living in the noisy, crowded Gothic Quarter for a year, the couple decided that they work hard—they own their own company, Garment Printing—and deserved more. More space. More peace and quiet. And a swimming pool never hurts. From their first viewing of the house, Gavin said, “Chantal was determined to rent it. She joked that she would sell her soul to live in this house.”
In August 2014, they moved in. The house came unfurnished, but together they chose furniture, decorated with objects acquired from around the world on their travels and quickly made the place their own. Chantal readily confessed that there was no specific theme planned. They knew they wanted a mix between country and modern—a bright yellow Ikea armchair sits on top of a cowhide rug in their downstairs living room—but to keep things simple. Luckily, the house has a lot of storage space, “but I still think we need to pare things back,” said Gavin. It’s not about interior design and collections for the couple: it’s about enjoying the natural beauty of the house. After all, with everything being made of warm, richly coloured wood—from floor to stairs to ceiling—they felt that there wasn’t much work to do, even when the house was empty.
Besides the sunlight streaming through a plethora of windows, balconies and open doors, and lush greenery as far as the eye can see, Gavin and Chantal each have personal favourite features of the house. Gavin loves the wood-burning stove. “Even though there’s no heating system in the house, with the fire on, it’s so warm in here,” he boasted. In September, they bought three tonnes of wood for the stove, which will keep them toasty throughout the cold winter months. Chantal is rather taken with a corner of the house where their first Christmas tree purchased in Barcelona still stands. She can sit in the stylish, plush, red chair positioned there, a glass of wine in tow, and gaze outside over the swimming pool at the breathtaking panoramic view beyond. There is also an area upstairs where she spends a lot of time doing her sewing and knitting. “I have a spot to do my own thing, so we’re planning on turning the extra bedroom upstairs into an office for Gavin. A space he can call his own too,” said Chantal.
Although their home is enviable—equipped with a bathroom that belongs in a spa, so stylish and soothing you expect to be offered a list of treatments upon entering it—Gavin and Chantal have had to adjust to the different lifestyle that comes with living away from the city centre, surrounded by nature. “Our social lives have definitely changed,” admits Chantal. “To move here, you have to understand that you’re going to spend a lot of nights at home. You have to be content with it just being the two of you.”
Gavin was the one who was immediately at home in the relaxing atmosphere of their new address. Upstairs, out on the balcony, he can stand alone and revel in the silence. He’s in the habit now of walking around, breathing in deeply, filling his lungs with the crisp, fresh air surrounding the house. “And to think,” he said, pointing out across the treetops towards the backside of Tibidabo “chaos is just a stones throw away.” Without traffic—and with the way Chantal drives, Gavin teases—they can get to the city centre in 30 minutes.
There are plenty of things to do around the house too. Gavin is an avid runner, mountain biker and triathlete. There is a zoo with animals native to the area just three kilometres away. And they have begun to uncover all the interesting things that grow on their land. They have a lemon tree, an olive tree, a fig tree and a pomegranate tree, which was the hardest to identify. There are four different kinds of bolets, and endless amounts of fresh herbs growing all around.
Even more important, is the fabulous swimming pool—and it’s an ideal house for parties. They’ve already had some fantastic blowouts. “I need to be around my friends more than Gavin does,” said Chantal. So hosting parties and having their friends come to them is the perfect solution. Good times and hilarious stories without worrying about who’s going to be the designated driver.