When New Yorkes Jan Eleni Lemonedes and Ronnie Stam firts visited the beachside town of Trancoso on the Brazilian coast, they were completely captivated.”Ronnie is in the fashion industry and has travelled his whole life, seeing some of the most beautiful beaches in the world,” says Jan, an interior designer. Nonetheless, Trancoso made a big impression on both of them: ‘We just fell in love’ she recalls. Enchanted by the area’s laid-back, bohemian lifestyle and unspoilt stretches of white sand, the couple decided after just ten days that wanted a second home here so they could come back regularly with their daughter Lola 14.’Everything felt right for us,’ says Jan.
When they discovered and old house on a small, quiet plot, close to the beach and surrounded by mango trees, the couple wasted no time in snapping it up to remodel as their holiday escape. Collaborating whit a local architect and builder, they restructured the original property completely, creating two separate buildings: one to be used as their main living space, the other as a smaller, single-storey guest cottage and studio. Separating the two, a decked outdoor area with a pool, wooden seating and comfy cushions makes an informal spot to relax under the shade of tropical foliage. Vast doors open onto this central courtyard from the main house on one side and the cottage on the other letting daylight flood in. ‘We wanted a beachy, open-air feel, ‘says Jan. ‘When the doors are open, it becomes one large space the hummingbirds fly straight through.’
The buildings white-washed cement walls, stripped wooden beams and expanses of glass give a light, contemporary twist to the region’s traditional style. Inside, the modern-rustic aesthetic continues with a combination of cement flooring and simple wooden furniture. Rugs and cushions in Indonesian textiles soften the space and give it a laid-back, lived-in feel, while a small fireplace keeps the open-plan living area cosy on cooler nights. Jan and Ronne have added personality to their home with a careful selection of photographs, artworks and decorative objects, many of them found at flea markets on their travels.
Sitting on upstairs balcony, looking down over lush greenery and the clear, calm pool, the atmosphere feels a world away from the bustle and noise of New York. ‘In the end, our vision came to fruition,’ says Jan. ‘Our house is peaceful and tranquil – we still can’t believe it’s ours’.