A Perfect Escape, Straight from the 15th Century: Villa San Spirito

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This “modern farmhouse” in Croatia — Villa San Spirito, designed by Steven Harris Architects and Rees Roberts + Partners — shows what’s possible with a 15th-century limestone structure and a bit of imagination and elbow grease. So successful was this updating that Villa San Spirito was awarded Interior Design Magazine’s “Best of Year” 2010 Residence. In a perfect meld of old and new, original rustic stone walls are paired with elegant, modern décor in an upscale summer vacation home, situated on a high bluff on the island of Lopud. It won’t be easy to tear yourself away from the entrance courtyard, with its outside sitting and dining area that provides an ideal setting for coffee in the morning, or wine at sunset. Once you do, however, you discover a delightful interior whose colors of white, gray, and black play off the natural stone walls effortlessly.

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Before one set of French doors which open to light and air, sleek black-and-white chairs group in front of an open fireplace; before the other, a glass-topped table and woven chairs invite a pause for conversation. A simple white rectangular platform, with the addition of a pillow or two, gives the term “window seat” a whole new meaning. Comfy chairs group around a sand-colored dining table; stone stairs wind upward to a second floor of bedrooms and bathroom tucked under exposed beam supports. Surfaces are uncluttered, the interior open and comforting. But you’ll probably spend more time outdoors than inside here — with a beckoning Adriatic breeze and swaying palms making this place a perfect escape from the ordinary.

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Written by Janet Butler

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Janet W. Butler is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant by day and a “small soprano” by night. An RWA Golden Heart Winner, she is the author of the inspirational romance From the Ashes (“the best little book no one’s ever heard of”), published by SANDS Publishing in 2001; and a romantic suspense, Voice of Innocence, from Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a Chicago native transplanted to northeast Indiana, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and Cassandra “Trouble” Butler, S.R.C. (Spoiled Rotten Cat).