Bloom Studio: Renovating Can Pep

Bloom Studio: Renovating Can Pep

Kit Maplethorpe is the founder of Bloom Studio, an Ibiza and London-based consultancy specialising in architecture, interior design and 3D Computer-Aided Design. A project architect since 2007, Kit’s expertise lies in niche, bespoke housing. He moved to the white isle in 2011 and subsequently has been at the forefront of some of the island’s most exciting renovations. Sarah Elkabas, works alongside Kit at Bloom, focusing on interiors. Her career began at the world famous Liberty in London, and today she uses her unparalleled fashion knowledge to execute clients’ interiors wishes with expert aplomb. Here, the pair discusses the recent restoration of Can Pep, a 500-year old finca in Santa Gertrudis that’s completely transformed the building and surrounding space.

K: Originally the living room was where the master bedroom is. The master was in the centre of the house, which meant that to get to the living room you had to walk through the bedroom. It was a really weird, back to front layout. So the brief was to sort out the flow, to create a main entrance, which is always really important with these sorts of houses, and to modernise but not lose the soul. It was very important to our clients to maintain that.

S: This is quite a unique house because the clients quite like this traditional style. You’ll notice that the taps are oxidised brass, for instance — they preferred the antique look over modern, sleek lines. It was a fun one!

K: We raised the floor in the middle, where the living room and the entrance are. But structurally it’s the same and so is the external footprint. The windows we just refurbished.

S: From an interiors perspective it’s about proposing ideas the clients haven’t thought about. Things that will work on a visual level and add to the flow of the house. It’s important to know what they want — what are their needs, what is the house going to be used for? That’s always one of my first questions. We like to be one step ahead. 

K: The client has quite a strong look so we drew inspiration from her but the little details that you can see, the little niches in the wall, the little cove lights, the reusing of the timber, there’s only so far you can go with that stuff so we spent a lot of time on site picking out the wood, thinking about where we can reuse it; considering how to use original features and trying to implement that with new parts of the house. That was also part of the original brief. Before it felt really disjointed. There was the original finca, beautiful old features, but then there were these add-ons completed in the 70s and 80s with straight lines, and looked nothing like the original finca. So we tried our best to really try and merge it all together so it all felt like one space.

S: This house has lots of original features and I think you have to be really careful about how big the contrast is with modern things. You’ll notice there are quite a lot of them here but they don’t feel out of place. The combination needs to be subtle.

K: There were certain points during this when I just had to trust Sarah! For instance, in the master bathroom when we installed the brass, at first I thought, woah, is this too much? But then it all came together and you can see it really works.

S: That comes down to our relationship and how we work. We don’t always agree but we do trust each other. We have a lot of involvement with the client so we really get to know them, and it’s about finding a way to bring their ideas to life too. That’s something we do really well, we always go above and beyond for the client. I think that makes us a little bit different to a lot of companies because we really enjoy that aspect of it. To see the client really happy is what you want. Blood, sweat and tears goes into it!

K: I think this house had a feeling and Sarah said from the start that it didn’t need anything doing to it. It feels very provincial, a really nice sense to it. So for us, it was super important to maintain that.

S: Yeah, I think it’s really important to stay true to the building, we don’t want the island to keep popping up with loads of new builds. We’re not really into ripping things off, throwing things away, knocking things down kind of people. Those things are part of the building’s charm and I think it’s really important to keep that.

K: In addition, sustainability plays a part. Every single product in this house, in terms of hard materials, has taken a lot of effort to source. The terracotta is reclaimed from the mainland, the grey stone that you see is all from Ibiza, and the tiles here are slightly different too. We tried to keep the materials local.

S: For carbon footprint reasons we try to keep within Spain where possible. The details really make this house and there’s been a lot of time spent trying to get this right, which has been worth it.

K: Absolutely. Every stage has its rewards. The design deliverance is always good. We’re very fortunate that we’re selling the dream. So to see people say they can’t wait to get started is very rewarding. At the time it can be quite stressful, but when you reflect and look back you think about how amazing it was to work on a project.

S: When you’ve taken a chance on something and it turns out well, it’s the best. The bar at Can Olivo is a good example of that. We pushed for those doors and now the client’s really happy. It was amazing delivering it to them. We’re always incredibly proud when we’ve finished a project. 

K: And it’s great for Sam in the office, too. For something like this, he puts together a 160-170 drawing package. Every single item is listed with sizes, measurements, materials.There’s no way to deliver a house like this without this level of detail.

S: If I had any advice for someone looking to refurbish a home in Ibiza, I’d say that it’s a very different lifestyle and so it’s important to remember that that comes with different timescales as well. Getting things done can be slow so you have to accept that and plan for it. You also have to be aware of the amount of work that goes into a job, often people have no idea of the scale of it. We’ve got out core people that we work with now. You’re nothing without your traders and we’re very lucky on that front.

K: For sure, we’ve built essential relationships over the years — with carpenters, ironworkers and subcontracters that we trust, and they’d all drop anything to come and help us out. I think I’d also say be realistic with timeframes, and aware of legalities. Ibiza can be a minefield in that sense. Fortunately, we’re able to advise completely at every step.