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Ibiza homes: Can Siena – Hilltop happiness

Photography by Ana Lui. Shot using a medium format Contax 645.

Like many others before her, Celine Nguyen Buu started coming to Ibiza for summer holidays in the late 90s, falling in love with the island’s nature and relaxed lifestyle. Her holidays became more and more frequent – from an annual vacation to multiple summer holidays, birthday jaunts, special occasions, pre-season getaways, post-season visits… It was clear the island was forming a very special place in her heart.

It was in 2001, just after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York when she felt the call to move to the island. With a career in finance, she had been working in the big apple at the time of the catastrophic events, and was stuck there for a week before she was able to get back home. Immediately, her thoughts turned to a better quality of life – after all, you only have one. “I was in shock,” she explains. “I came straight to Ibiza to relax and find my peace… and my home.”

And so the search for a home began, and eventually Celine and her former husband found a beautiful property high on a very private hill in San Jose, where they created a home for themselves and their daughter Tehani, making the permanent move to the island all-year round when she started school in 2010. Surrounded by loved ones, including her sister, French artist Fleur Arnaud (pictured), new local and international friends, plus a menagerie of much-loved cats, dogs and birds, life was good.

As she walked her dogs across the hill each day, Celine began to think it was time to start a new design project. With an exceptional eye for style and exquisite taste, she had previously worked alongside architects and interior designers when renovating her apartment in Paris, or transforming an office in London, plus the ongoing evolution of her own home – which she describes as an accumulation of things from her whole life – and upon spotting the ruin of a property on the same hill as her own home, the inspiration for Can Siena began to form in her mind’s eye.

The property Celine was eyeing up on her hill was a construction that had been abandoned years earlier. After identifying the owners and making an offer, she took over the project and it was action all stations! The 35,000 square metres of land came with a pre-approved license to build a 460 square metre home, designed by the renowned Ibiza architect Jaime Serra, with whom Celine was more than happy to continue working.

Celine had met the architect numerous times socially and admired his clean, minimal style of architecture, however she had a very clear vision that she wanted Can Siena to be livable – not simply a sleek, showroom style rental villa. “I loved the pure lines of the villa, but I am not a minimalistic person. I wanted to make it functional for a family to live in.” From start to finish, the project was completed in just over a year – fast-tracked without compromising on quality.

“I really liked working with Jaime,” she says of the process. “We had to strictly comply with the original floor plan, but we could make changes within the house and so I added bathrooms to every bedroom, big sliding doors to create open spaces and an indoor/outdoor living area so you could really feel a connection to nature and feel the breeze. In Ibiza, you can live this way for six months – but we also added the fireplace and a heated pool so you could be comfortable all year round.”

“I just love this hill,” she continues. “I thought by having a project here, we could make sure the area around our home didn’t get too built up around our own home,” she says. Recent building regulations in Ibiza have now restricted any further developments in the area, meaning Celine’s dreams of a peaceful and tranquil home base will forever be true.

Seeing her vision come to life was constantly inspiring to Celine, who said she would dream of the project at night and wake up with fresh ideas and more passion for the project. “I loved the creative process,” she says. “I lived here with my daughter for a while so I could understand what it was like to experience life in the house, to make it really comfortable for family living. Nothing has been done for show, to be flashy, or to impress – it’s all based on real life.”

She may not have done it to impress, but there’s no denying Celine has turned Can Siena into one of the most stunning luxury villas on the Ibiza property market today (click here for more information). With six bedrooms in total – four in the main house and an additional two in the standalone guesthouse – it is the ideal year-round home base or summer holiday home for a family, or alternatively an investment holiday rental property (click here to enquire about summer rentals).

The interiors at Can Siena are simply magical – a combination of authentic retro sophistication, vibrant whimsy and comfortable grace that are the result of Celine’s creative vision. Her natural affinity with style and design is apparent (today she is also the co-founder and curator of luxury beachwear store Rincón in Marina Botafoch) throughout. Having long been a collector of vintage pieces, this was her first opportunity to decorate a home inspired purely by the eras of the 50s, 60s and 70s with no limitations.

“I wanted an eclectic mix,” she says. “Not the typical, easy Ibiza Balinese style or all-white. The process was like a puzzle to me and over time, all the pieces came together, from all over Europe. In the end, I wanted it to make you feel happy.” Watch this space for the launch of the upcoming edition of WHITE Ibiza Magazine – on sale in May 2017 – to read the full story (and view more pictures) about the incredible transformation of Can Siena’s interior and Celine’s impressive handpicked furnishings and art collection.

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