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Drawn to the 18th-century finca’s calming aura, homeowner Louise Cable-Alexander was determined to preserve its monastic charm.

“I don’t know whether it’s because of the villa’s past, but it’s terribly peaceful here,” remarks Louise Cable-Alexander of her island home, a 200-year-old former monastery set in the rolling hills of San Tomás, which she bought from Domus Nova in 2021. “I have this vision of a load of bucolic monks having a brilliant time. The party monks. I can just picture them hidden away up here where no one could see them.”

Some people let their head rule their heart when buying a home; for Louise the opposite was true. From the moment she pulled up outside Villa Bourgainville and set eyes on the “monster” canopy of bougainvillea shrouding the front door, she was swept up by its character and history.

The villa might have felt harmonious, but it didn’t necessarily look it. Successive interventions over the years had resulted in a space that was disjointed, “anarchic” and lacking soul. When Louise first viewed it, it had 13 exits – escape routes galore for the monks, she muses. For family life, perhaps not quite so necessary. “The house had the right mood and the ability to lift the spirits, so I knew I could make something beautiful out of it,” she says.

The task of uniting the original building with its disparate newer additions fell to Agnès Roca of interior design and architecture practice LUV Studio, who was briefed to “make everything more organic; to build on that sense of charm, which was a bit frayed at the edges”.

In many ways, the transformation took place from the outside in – apt because it was the setting that first caught Louise’s attention. “I always think how you feel when you arrive somewhere and what’s around you are as important as what’s beyond the threshold,” she muses. “What Agnès has done so well is to add Sabina wood pergolas that bring everything together.”

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“The house had the right mood and the ability to lift the spirits, so I knew I could make something beautiful out of it”

These pergolas are the conduit, she notes, not just between the old and newer parts of the villa, but between inside and out. The garden and its ancient fig trees – which Louise’s gardener has proclaimed as some of the best on the island, no less – were the clincher when it came to buy. “I was bowled over by it,” she admits. “It’s not huge, but it’s so immediate to the house. Every bedroom has a terrace, so everyone has a way to be outside.”

The landscaping, unsurprisingly, has been given considerable attention. Working alongside Eiviss Garden, Mediterranean wildflowers have been planted in abundance, bringing flashes of colour and interest in unexpected ways. “On the first-floor terrace, there’s a concealed flowerbed the whole way around – you can just see the stalks peeking up.”

“It has that finca look but with a twist of elegance”

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Natural tones and textures have found their way into the interior design, too. Old walls have been exposed in some areas; in others, stucco lime plaster has been applied. To create a feeling of consistency, tactile stone sourced from southern Spain (“I don’t know how many square metres we bought of that”) has been used everywhere from the living room and bedrooms to the terraces. The result is calming, at ease, yet somehow elevated.

“It has that finca look but with a twist of elegance,” offers Louise, who admits she was initially looking to buy in the English countryside, before changing tack and setting her sights on Ibiza. “It’s such a brilliant island for so many reasons. You can dip in and out of whatever you like here. I wanted to create a home that everyone wants to come to.”

She’s certainly succeeded. “People ask me if I’m proud of what we’ve achieved at the villa, and I am,” she pauses. “But I have to give the house itself some credit. It has something special about it. It all comes back to that: it has a good aura.” The spirit of the monks lives on.

Villa Bourgainville is available exclusively for longer-term rentals from 25,000 p/w.