Originally from Holland, Onke Truijen and her family relocated to Spain in 2006. They lived in Ibiza for eight years before moving to Alella. “We loved Ibiza, especially the gorgeous beaches, but it’s basically a village,” Onke explained. “After a while you know everyone and you get tired of the quiet winters.” Alella, on the other hand, has proven to be a pleasing balance between peaceful nature and urban bustle. “The drive to Barcelona—only about 30 minutes from our house without traffic—is so easy if you have a car that I go can to the city every other day,” Onke said. “Whether I’m there for a business meeting, museum visit or dinner with friends, each day I become more and more fascinated with the city and its people.”
Onke and her husband found their house through friends. It sits atop a wooded hill, off a secluded side street, next to a typical Catalan masía—a location most people only ever dream about. Inside, an exposed black staircase with cherry hardwood treads gives the house a lofty feel. “In addition to the stairs, I fell for the black slate floor, which runs throughout the entire house,” Onke said. At the top of the staircase, the wall is lined with framed portraits of the family and old oil paintings by Onke, which she painted back when she was taking traditional Dutch art classes as a little girl. Three bedrooms branch off from the upstairs landing.
This Maresme mountain hideaway is just a 30-minute drive from the city
Onke described her interior design style as a mix of boho and urban. In the living room, there is an arched metallic floor lamp that stands over her grey sofa, which sits in front of a distressed wooden chest that she bought in Ibiza. Leaning against the skirting board, rather than hanging on the walls, are some of Onke’s more eye-catching paintings, and a hat rack near the entranceway displays her eclectic collection of hats. “I love shopping at second-hand markets,” she said. “Old things are much more interesting than new, I think.”
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Onke’s design for the house has also been influenced by her travels. For instance, numerous furry animal hides from Buenos Aires are scattered around the floors. “They’re actually pretty fitting considering our property sits at the edge of a natural park and this house was once used as a hunting lodge,” she said. Today, with so many hazelnut trees around the house and no wannabe Davy Crocketts lurking in the shadows, the wild boar come calling. Even though hearing their noises in the middle of the night is a little unsettling, Onke said she feels completely at ease here. “Most of all, I love hearing the birdsong and being surrounded by greenery.”
Amidst the trees, the grounds also include a Japanese tea house replica with a barbecue pit; a swimming pool that lures Onke’s friends with kids from the city centre; and a trampoline, which they hauled all the way from Ibiza. At least it still gets a lot of use. “My daughter, who is 17, is on that thing for at least an hour a day,” Onke divulged. “It’s her form of exercise.”
Her close proximity to nature has inspired Onke to take up painting full time (www.onkepaint.me). Using acrylics, oils and pastels, she creates bold, colourful portraits for people upon request. “I love people,” she said with a smile. “This is my way of connecting with them on another level.” She doesn’t like painting on a stark white background, so she tends to use recycled cardboard, which she finds on the streets of Barcelona, as her canvas. “It’s just another way I can bring new life to old things,” she said.
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