Spanish vibes all year around…
Lauren’s nomadic family get to experience summer for twelve months of the year, living between two homes, one in Barcelona and the other in Brisbane. Lauren and her husband Helios, own and operate Petit Barcelona, an accessories label they started in 2015. They are constantly travelling and meeting with local Mediterranean crafters, designers and manufacturers. So who better to get advice from when it comes to bringing a European vibe into your home? Here, Lauren shares her tips on how you can add a Spanish touch to your home too.
What inspired you and your husband, Helios to begin the label?
After 20 years of having desk jobs all over the world, and my husband Helios working remote, we realised that we both needed flexible working in order to maintain our lifestyle of living between Spain and Australia. I had been writing business plans to start my own business for decades, and finally took the plunge in December 2016 and started Petit Barcelona. Over the years I had met so many designers and come across beautifully made products in Spain that I knew would be suitable for the Australia market, so the two came together and I had a business!
Has chasing an endless summer always been a part of your life plan?
When we met in Rio de Janiero in 2010, one of the first things we said to each other on that night, was that we longed to follow an endless Summer. Fast forward a few years, and we have managed to keep up our endless pursuit for the past five or so years. Our last real winter was in 2011 in London! Living between Barcelona and Brisbane summer to summer is a dream, but it also takes a bit of planning and hard work here and there to keep it working for everyone. We often joke that it is our version of being settled.
When deciding which city to live in between Spain and Australia, why did you choose Brisbane?
I am from Brisbane, and it is where my family and close friends mostly live. We have lived in Sydney and love it, but when it came time to start a business and be close to our support network, both personally and professionally, Brisbane was an easy decision. One we definitely haven´t regretted. My sister lives in Peregian Beach so we are often spending Sunday and Monday there (our weekend as we have a popup market stall at Powerhouse New Farm markets each Saturday).
Describe the colour palette you’ve used throughout your Australian home. In what way does it remind you of Spain?
At first I tried to make our home here more like Spain and our home in Spain more like Australia. Maybe it was a way of fulfilling the constant need to be in touch with whichever home we are currently not in. Here in Brisbane, our home is a beautiful Queenslander, so timber flooring and white walls are the major design elements. It is, however the complete opposite to our homes in Spain. We live with Helios´ family in a village outside of Barcelona city, and also in a small beach apartment, 45 mins drive north of Barcelona on the Costa Brava. Both places have beautiful tiled floors, whitewashed walls and lots of ceramic Spanish plates on the walls. The one thing that is constant is that we don´t have carpet or rugs in either country as we prefer to have bare floors.
Tell us about three furniture pieces you’re lusting over. How would you incorporate them into your home?
I am wanting to renovate our beach house on the Costa Brava this June so the pieces I am wanting to purchase are from both Australia and Spain.
– Our good friend´s custom hand painted antique linen headboards from Espanyolet, in Mallorca.
– For the walls, ´Marnie´by Joselu Montojo, available at Rue Vintage 74 in Madrid.
– For the living room, I have been wanting to ship over the classic Jardan Wilfred sofa in Cloud. The perfect siesta sofa!
Favourite room in your house in Brisbane versus Barcelona?
For me, our favourite place in the house is the backyard. We have a big frangipani tree, Agnes has a tree house to play in and we love sitting out there in the afternoon whilst she plays.
In Barcelona, our favourite room in our apartment is the front balcony. It’s like you are standing on a platform in the middle of the Mediterranean. We eat three meals a day there, watch the boats on the ocean, people swimming and at night everyone walking along the walkway, stopping for tapas and drinks at the restaurants, cafes and bars underneath.
One aspect of your daily routine that remains constant in both homes?
Lunch and siesta. In Barcelona, we stop to eat together as a family every single day. My mother or father in law cooks a meal and at 2.30pm we crowd around the small table in the kitchen eating, drinking and talking about life. Here in Brisbane Helios cooks our meal and we sit together and eat (although it’s not always possible given the lifestyle here) but we try. Food is life and stopping to take in the day is what´s important to us now.
Favourite café in Barcelona?
I won’t lie here, but the Spanish haven´t traditionally been known for good coffee (in my opinion). In the last few years, there have been boutique barista owned cafes popping up though. My go-to’s are Federal Cafe (Passatge de la Pau, 11 El Gotic barrio) which is an Australian owned cafe and Nomad Cafe (Passatge Sert, 12).
Which restaurant in Brisbane would you recommend for those seeking a traditional Spanish experience?
The closest we have seen is Moda Restaurant on Edward St, City, for fine dining (Javier Codina is a Catalan chef) and Gerard’s Bistro on James Street, for embotits (cured meats and cheese).
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