S’Olivera Chronicles: The Calm Before the Storm

A few years ago, Susan commissioned Regan Bice to give S’Olivera a contemporary relevance while retaining its original soul and spirit. The solution was to adapt the interior so that the very essence of emptiness revealed its purity. To take it back to a blank canvas of pure white walls, so that their art, along with the architectural features and a few well-chosen objects became the main focus. These are the chronicles of this process. We hope you’ll come along with us for the ride!

binichic_solivera_calm1We want to share some photos we took of our house, S’Olivera, right before we start the renovation. We don’t have a lot to say about it—its more of a visual  experience.

binichic_solivera_calm3In looking through the photos of our Living Room, I notice lots of windows and openings to break up the interior space.


The doors and windows come in several styles, all of which were restored and repurposed for this setting, over 30 years ago.  This room will become an independent Studio/apartment with its own entrance.  We hope to reincorporate some of these doors and windows in the new construction.


binichic_solivera_calm7At the top of those steps is the kitchen—where the magic often happened. That is why we want to keep it as the center of the home, a place for our family and friends to gather over a good meal.

Marble counters, trimmed in very old hand painted tiles, tile floors and some basics— fire and water — were all that was needed to convert groceries and garden produce into food and sustenance over the years.

binichic_solivera_calm2A big table was in the middle of the room, and that’s the opening of the cistern next to the door. We made that corner pantry and all of the cabinets in the kitchen from repurposed pieces of wood.

binichic_solivera_calm8binichic_solivera_calm9Our bathroom was a sturdy collection of restored and rebuilt sinks, mirrors, tubs and tiles. The view of Menorca’s highest mountain— Monte Toro — from the tub was spectacular.

binichic_solivera_calm10The hallway is like the dorsal spine of the house—-bringing light and movement throughout.

It has an unusually high ceiling with 3 skylights, so we used a collection of tall, elegant doors to define bedrooms, storage and work spaces.  This will be a dramatic shift when we eliminate all of these walls and doors to return this space to its original hay barn open loft plan.

binichic_solivera_calm11binichic_solivera_calm12Another opportunity to observe how the widows poke bright holes in the massive, solid walls comes in the bedroom.  First we have some of my personal favorites—the original,  primitive arches, (from the humble sheep stable origins) which we took great pains to preserve with clear glass and a framed window.  The 4 ft thick walls enclose the view in mythic proportions.


binichic_solivera_calm14This picture shows how doors of many sizes and styles work together on one wall.

binichic_solivera_calm1The closets were hollowed out of the space between rooms.  They give a rectilinear, geometric slant to the otherwise organic shapes.

This gives you an idea of S’Olivera from the inside. Next we will take a tour of the outside and see how the garden looked before and after.

All photos in this post by Susan Unger — except for three, which were taken by Núria Gavin.

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