Ibiza living: Ibiza homes – Can Olivos
Photography by Gypsy Westwood
“I always had a dream to have a place here,” recalls Melissa Spero, a British-born public relations specialist whose passion for interiors led her to completely refurbish and redesign Can Olivos, the beautiful Ibiza home she shares with her husband Christopher and daughters Lola and India. The journey to finding their perfect property was not without its ups and downs, however the destination was perfect in the end. “In retrospect, I’m really glad,” Melissa says. “Because in the end, this is what my heart was set on. I like the juxtaposition of being in the middle of the countryside but seeing the sea and the sunset. I love the light which enters the house – it’s unbelievable. It’s the one thing above everything which reminds me of how lucky I am to be here.
Her first taste of Ibiza had been at the age of 23 – a beach and clubbing holiday with friends – when she felt the famous magnetic pull of the island. “The older we became, the less it was about clubbing and the more it was about days at the beach,” Melissa says. “I had a friend with a house here and I’d stay with her and experience the best bits of Ibiza.” When she met Christopher, he had never visited the island and it wasn’t until 2008 that they visited Ibiza together, when his career as a house and techno producer and DJ, and one half of electronic music act Dense & Pika led him to perform at the legendary Space Ibiza.
It was at this point the Speros’ Ibiza destiny finally fell into place. “As soon as we went onto the top terrace and saw how fantastic the view was – we had the sea and the sunset, we were in the campo but we weren’t totally isolated – we said yes! It was a no brainer for us.” says Melissa. “The house definitely needed updating but we thought it was at the right stage for us to step in. It didn’t need knocking down and rebuilding – it was more that it needed decorative elements and a bit of personality. It was a great opportunity for us so we put an offer in and… third time lucky!”
In May 2014, they took possession of Can Olivos and work began to transform it into their dream home while the family continued living in London. “We painted all the walls white straight away,” remembers Melissa. “In terms of the wood, we didn’t want it to be too dark, but equally we didn’t want it to be non-descript white! There are perils doing renovations when you’re not here, and at one point the windows were painted an electric blue, so we had to tone it down with copious amounts of white paint. Now, four years on we have totally switched to a very light French grey. I had a lot of angst over the colour – I’d stare at it for hours and hours. The builders thought I was completely mad. If you don’t get these details right, you have to live with them for a long time.”
“It’s true,” says Melissa, who also learned Spanish so she could manage the entire project from afar. “I never look at it and say it’s amazing. I angst over big decisions. Our builder Abdul is fantastic and extremely patient. But sometimes it’s a slow burn until I like it.” From ripping out old red ceramic tiles and replacing them with sleek contemporary micro cement floors (“We didn’t realise how long it would take and the entire family had to live upstairs for weeks!”) to updating the bathrooms, kitchen, terraces, plumbing, electrics, her decisions – be they infrastructural or aesthetic – have all proven successful.
With seven bedrooms perfectly spaced throughout multiple floors of the house and a guesthouse, Can Olivos is spacious enough to be fully occupied without feeling crowded. “It makes me happy to have people here, so we made a lot of different zones for people to hang out in,” says Melissa. “It’s good to have people scattered when we have a full house. We have great family lunches and dinners; all the kids can run around safely but then I can also retreat to my own oasis upstairs. I need that contrast – privacy is really important to me.” The roof terrace upstairs is both Melissa and Christopher’s idea of heaven. “When the kids go to bed in the summer, we head up there for sunset with a glass of something… that for me, is happiness. I have a theory that when I’m too old to go up and down the stairs, I’m just going to live on that floor!”