When Gilly Newberry and her husband Geoff moved from their Georgian rectory in Norfolk, England to a new home on the Spanish island of Mallorca, they made sure the old English rectory was with them in spirit.
Gilly, the founder of luxury textiles brand Bennison Fabrics, lives and breathes traditional English interiors, so it was only natural that she reinterpreted the look for these sunnier climes.
The elegant blend of traditional English furniture set against cool whitewashed walls and limestone floors makes this one of the the world’s best houses. The house’s reimagined country style is built on a more rustic and minimalist Mediterranean foundation, and the results are inspiring.
Many of the textiles you’ll see at Gilly’s Mallorca home are hand-printed silks and linens by her company, Bennison Fabrics, whose designs are based on 18th- and 19th-century English and French textiles. In her elegant room concepts, Gilly demonstrates how well these timeless classics can be translated into a different and unexpected environment. It is the perfect illustration that good design will always be at home.
We caught up with Gilly Newberry for a house tour – and an insightful lesson in achieving perfect color and pattern.
Step out of the Mallorcan sun into the coolness of this high hallway and you’ll be instantly transported elsewhere by the framed 18th-century Chinese fabric, brightly painted chest and relaxed elegance of the palette. “The whitewashed walls and limestone floor convey a sense of calm, away from the hustle and bustle of life on the doorstep and promise comfort in the house beyond,” says Gilly.
Hallway ideas include utilizing the full height of the entryway to display textile artwork. A combination of three large vessels – one rustic, one colorful and one traditionally oriental – sets the tone for the interior styles you will encounter in this special home.
The large living room perfectly showcases the meeting of the two worlds of style and embraces the garden through the French doors.
“A convex mirror, gilded wall mounts and framed prints and oil paintings all have a distinctly English flair, but against the backdrop of the Mediterranean sun, stone floors and whitewashed walls, this is immediately transported far from England,” says Gilly of her living room ideas. ‘The Little Aztec linen on the sofa adds color and earthy tones complement the ceiling beams and balance the space perfectly.’
Antique furniture in natural tones harmonize with accents of gilded frames, brass lamps and the yellow of the sunlight. Comfort is everywhere, from deeply upholstered sofas and inviting armchairs to rustic coffee tables and pools of light offered by well-placed lamps.
It’s not hard to see where Gilly and Geoff’s inspiration for the library came from. Her home office ideas are rooted in English tradition – that’s definitely more Downton Abbey than downtown Palma.
“A series of library shelves with classic details and proportions and filled with leather-bound volumes, together with the dignity of a burl center table, convey a very English country feel,” she says.
A 19th-century Spanish lebrillo charger from the Triana neighborhood of Seville is displayed above the books, softening the space, and the garden doors open to a view of a very un-English landscape beyond. The blue and yellow tones of the ceramic reflect the blue and yellow tones of the Mallorcan sky and sun.
Old meets new in the kitchen
This is a no-nonsense, professional kitchen with sleek, straight lines. Kitchen ideas include white subway tiles, white high-gloss cabinets and steel countertops, but these more clinical elements are softened by distressed wood wall shelves, a collection of English blue and white china, a popular butcher’s block and stoneware pots.
Gilly and her husband Geoff moved into their beautiful home in Mallorca in 2015. Built around 2012, it is surrounded by a nature reserve and is located in the Carrossa Valley of the island.
Guest room bedroom ideas continue the style theme – a traditional English look mixed with earthier rustic tones. The high ceiling and limestone floor give the room an airy feel.
“The open canopy of the American Colonial four-poster bed draws the eye upward to the tall beams, but then is drawn back to earth by the dark wood of the antique furniture and the spice hues of the color palette, which combine to create a grounded gaze times,” says Gilly.
The richly draped and upholstered bed is perfectly placed to make the most of the view in this two-sided room. The curtain fabric is Bennison’s Chinese paper on silk.
An antique sofa and armchair upholstered in the company’s Roses linen (in a custom colorway) sit alongside signature antique furniture, while table lamps with pleated silk lampshades, a gilded antique mirror, and curated objects complete the look. Striped and patterned rugs bring an oriental touch to this very English style, but the light transforms and transports the room to the Mediterranean coast.
The bathroom here is an inviting space outfitted with an eclectic but curated selection of curios that balance the clean lines of the contemporary bathroom fixtures. Bathroom ideas include earthy, natural tones introduced with slat blinds, a rattan chair and an oriental openwork wooden wall, and the more unusual idea of using the bathroom as a place to enjoy special treasures displayed on antique hanging shelves and a full Model yacht exhibited are sails.
Even the seemingly simple guest toilet enjoys the best of both design worlds. A modern polished and carved stone washbasin and polished concrete surfaces reveal Mediterranean aesthetics, while the gilded mirror and a reminder of carved ebony elephants pass along the shelf. Gilly and Geoff make sure there’s always something to see, even in the smallest room in the house.
English style in sunnier climes
Gilly Newberry worked with antique dealer and decorator Geoffrey Bennison and when he died and left her a third of his business, she founded Bennison Fabrics. The company specializes in hand-printed fabrics based on 18th and 19th century English and French textiles originally discovered and reproduced by Geoffrey.