A charming, rustic property with verdant gardens in Estepona
A British couple have created a warm, welcoming family home in El Padrón that feels miles away from everything in the heart of the country, but is just a few minutes from both the beach and Estepona town centre.
After retiring early from a career working all over the world for a French multinational, Andrew Johnson and his artist wife, Susan, were planning to look for a place in the south of France that would provide a bit of a challenge to transform into their dream home.
Back in the early 2000s, however, after frequent visits to see one of their sons who was living in Marbella at the time, they started to think the south of Spain might be the place to be, thanks to its superb year-round climate. The chance to learn another language and adapt to a different culture appealed, too.
But, as neither Andrew nor Susan are big fans of beachside apartments, they were keen to find a place that had a real country feel, but that was still conveniently close to a town, with a big garden and lots of room for family and friends.
Close to the coast and in the countryside
Having, early on, decided to focus on the Estepona area as being the best suited to their requirements, they jumped in their car and drove down every back road in the area in search of a property that inspired them. Just one kilometre from the coast in the El Padrón area of Estepona, east of the town centre and facing east over the Rio del Castor, they found what they were looking for.
An imposing, three-storey property, built in the mid-1970s on a slope overlooking a flat plot of land, with good water rights and views to the mountains and Mediterranean, they felt it had lots of potential that was just waiting to be developed.
Located in a private, quiet and secure cul-de-sac, in an agricultural valley that remains popular with local people and overseas residents, the house faces away from the road behind and enjoys “a real feeling of independence,” Andrew says, “We also have medium-distance views, that really let you see life going on.” The beach is a leisurely stroll away, taking the track beside the river without even needing to cross a road.
Completely remodelled to create a homely feel
Andrew and Susan purchased the property in 2002 and spent a year doing it up from top to bottom, replacing the roof, moving and adding windows with French-style shutters, gutting the interior, re-plastering and re-tiling the walls, and refitting the kitchen, bathrooms, and all the installations to bring everything up to their exacting standards.
The house, accessed from the large terrace overlooking the garden, features a series of long, light-filled rooms on the entrance level, including a spacious entrance hall and sitting room dining kitchen with French doors and traditional range, and a large living room with a wood-burning stove.
“In the winter months,” Andrew says, “we light the fire with olive wood and the house has a warm, homely feel that fits our lifestyle perfectly, with no wasted space.”
On the first floor is the master bedroom with balcony and large bathroom, with separate bath and shower; a second, generously sized en-suite bedroom, and a third bedroom, currently used as an office, as well as a terrace with adjoining laundry room. On the lower floor, located under the main terrace, is a self-contained bedroom and bathroom suite, which is ideal for guests or teenagers.
An oasis outdoors, complete with butterflies
In the summer, Andrew and Susan spend much of their time outdoors, making the most of the garden with its naturally-inspired swimming pool, shaded areas, and entertaining in the Balinese-influence wooden gazebo, which comes complete with kitchen, barbecue, and a guest cloakroom.
Over the past decade, they have gradually transformed the garden into a real oasis, with fish ponds on two levels by the gazebo, mature trees, extensive lawns, a vegetable garden, and even an area to play petanca. There are also a couple of additional buildings that Andrew has used as workshops for carpentry and ironwork that could be converted for other uses, if required.
Andrew has even planted milkweed to attract Monarch butterflies and has managed to build up quite a colony that really brings the garden to life.
The perfect place to watch the world go by
From the terrace – “the perfect place to have breakfast in the morning sunshine,” Andrew says, “and, in the evening, the ideal spot to watch all the activity in the garden and across the valley as the sun goes down behind us” – you can truly appreciate how their vision for the property has come together.
After living in the property for the last 13 years, Andrew and Susan have now, reluctantly, decided to downsize and are planning to move into the centre of Estepona. They believe the property would suit buyers who wish to mould it to their tastes, who want local services and the beach on the doorstep, but are drawn by the calm of living in the countryside in a house, and garden, that really feels like home.
By Adam Neale | Property News | October 17th, 2016