Terra Coll Home
Terra Coll Home began with an idea about where and how we wanted to live, and since it did not exist, we decided to make it.
It began with an idea, but it’s the space that ultimately dictated how that idea took root. We bought an old Spanish farmhouse hidden between Cas Canar and Ruberts in the Mallorcan countryside. The idea was a raw bohemian stone beauty with the soul of the land surrounded by wild nature. The reality was that a lot of the house had been remodeled in the 70s and was cold, formal, and dark, and cluttered with several generations of possessions. It had no heating, only primitive plumbing, and intermittent electricity. What we loved was that the house was made with earth and stone and was full of rustic features such as the curving tree trunk holding up the staircase above the garage and massive hand-chiseled stone sinks. In addition, the house was surrounded by dense protected forest and a wild garden of matas, pines, oaks, and wild olives that had been allowed to grow tall and free. We could see everything we wanted the house to be, now we just had to make it.
Little by little, as we reform the house, we have come to understand that what we are actually trying to do is express the character of the house in the most integral and simple way possible. The finished product should make it hard to distinguish what is new and what is old. We want to work within the architecture of the house, which is very simple, and within the vernacular of the house, which is earth, stone, wood, ceramic, and iron. Spaces should be open, straightforward, balanced, and uncluttered. Decor should be functional, practical, and genuine. Things should have a purpose and there shouldn’t be too many things. Artistry should be built into the house through the walls, floors, and seating, rather than added through purchased adornments. Fixtures and design elements should be made locally or even better found on the land. All colors should be of stone, wood, and terracotta. We have a purposeful absence of bright colors inside. Our designs focus on textures and finishes. Nearly every surface in our home is a tactile experience.
Our love for the original structure of the house led us to seek the same raw materials for the reform. Happily this has meant that the materials we are using are almost all local and sustainable, and hardly anything is manufactured or prefabricated. The stone sinks, for example, have been chiseled from stones found in the yard. The stonemasons, carpenters, and iron workers with whom we have collaborated are from Sineu and Binissalem, neighboring villages. Many of the design features are repurposed items from the finca. A donkey yoke is now a lintel; a lintel is now a stair; baskets and roof tiles are lighting fixtures. We kept several old olive wood branches which were used as hooks and added several more practical ones. The pergola we built near the pool is made entirely from the trunks and branches of trees that we had to remove to build the pool. We fit new things and old things together like a puzzle and insist on handpicking everything.
We design spaces with constructed elements so special that we build rooms around them. These elements make our work on this site totally unique and unable to repeat. Even if we were given similar materials again and a similar space to work in, the product would be different. The hand-laid pinyolet flooring and the tadelakt walls in the bathrooms and hearth were an evolving conversation between the space and the work. They define the spaces they inhabit.
Through the piece by piece, poc-a-poc, artisanal process, we have been able to adjust and make decisions as we go along. A beautiful feature of the living room is the cascading boulders emerging from the limewash walls into the steps; we didn’t plan that but were advised to leave them in place so that the house wouldn’t collapse. The kitchen counter supports are built from the same mares that used to make up the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining area. In addition to giving us more control over the reform, this approach has also saved us a lot of money. By doing work ourselves, sourcing materials locally, and collaborating directly with neighboring artisans, we have managed to keep our costs manageable.
In our minds this simple architecture belongs as much to the past as to the future. It’s a retreat from the globalization and industrialization of commerce. It is the rebirth of an old structure that evokes a sense of nostalgia. Giving new life to historical homes is a powerful way to connect us all. It makes us feel good.
Prior to doing this, we were living in Manhattan for 15 years where Tatiana worked as a fashion designer and Tyson worked as an school assistant principal. We had a small ceramics business that was our outlet for creating tangible things. However, we sought a deeper application of our vision, which reforming the finca has brought us. We have fallen in love with the process and with working together. At this point, our finca is nearly finished, we have a son, and we live here on the island year round. We are currently working on reforming a ceramics studio so that we can start doing our ceramic work here. We also have two future projects lined up — a mountain artist studio set among ancient olive trees and a guesthouse in the countryside. We are open to any collaborations with like minded folks.
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