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 reinterpret the look for these sunnier climes.
The elegant mix of traditional English furnishings on whitewashed walls and limestone flooring makes this one of the the best houses in the world. The house’s reimagined country-house style is built on a more rustic, minimalist Mediterranean foundation, and the results are inspiring.
Most of the textiles you’ll see in Gilly’s Mallorca home are hand-printed silks and linens from his company Bennison Fabrics, their designs being based on 18th and 19th century English and French textiles. In her stylish bedroom plans, Gilly demonstrates how these timeless classics translate into a different and unexpected setting. It’s the perfect illustration of the fact that good design will always have its place.
We caught up with Gilly Newberry for a tour of the house – and an enlightening lesson in achieving color and pattern perfection.
Step out of the Mallorcan sun into the coolness of this high-ceilinged hallway and you’re instantly transported elsewhere by the framed 18th-century Chinese textile, colorful painted chest, and casual elegance of the palette. “The whitewashed walls and limestone floor give a sense of tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of life outside the front door and a promise of home comfort beyond,” says Gilly.
Hallway ideas include using every part of the entryway height to display textile artwork. A combination of three large vessels – one rustic, one brightly colored and one traditional oriental – sets the tone for the interior styles you will encounter further in this special home.
The living room
The large living room perfectly highlights the meeting of the two worlds of style, and embraces the garden through the French windows.
“A convex mirror, gilt wall mounts, framed prints and oils all have a decidedly English feel, but against a backdrop of Mediterranean sunshine, stone floors and whitewashed walls, this is instantly transported away from the England,” Gilly says of her living room ideas. “The Little Aztec linen on the sofa adds color, and the earthy tones complement the beams above and balance the room perfectly.”
The antique furniture covered in natural tones balances with the reflections of the golden frames, the brass lamps and the yellow of the sun. Comfort is everywhere, from the deeply cushioned sofas and inviting armchairs to the rustic coffee table 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. Their home office ideas are steeped in English tradition – it’s definitely more Downton Abbey than Palma city centre.
“A set of bookcase shelves with classic detailing and proportions and filled with leather-bound volumes plus the gravity of a burl wood center table all give a very English country house feel,” she says .
Above the books, a 19th-century Spanish Lebrillo charger from Seville’s Triana district sweetens the room, and the garden doors open to a very un-English landscape beyond. The blues and yellows of the pottery echo the blues and yellows of the Mallorcan sky and sun.
Old meets new in the kitchen
This is a no-frills professional style kitchen with clean, straight lines. Kitchen ideas include white subway tiles, high-gloss white cupboards and steel worktops, but these more clinical elements are tempered by distressed wood wall shelves, a collection of blue and white English china, a block of beloved butcher and terracotta pottery.
Gilly and her husband Geoff moved into their beautiful home in Mallorca in 2015. It was built around 2012 and is surrounded by a nature reserve and is in the Carrossa Valley of the island.
Bedroom ideas in the guest room continue the style theme – a traditional English look mixed with more earthy rustic tones. The high ceiling and limestone floor give the room an airy feel.
‘The open canopy of the American Colonial four-poster bed allows the eye to drift upwards towards the tall beams, but is then drawn earthward by the dark wood of the antique furniture and the spice colors of the palette of colors that combine to create a grounded look, says Gilly.
The sumptuously draped and padded bed is perfectly placed to make the most of the view in this dual aspect bedroom. The draped fabric is Bennison’s Chinese paper on silk.
An antique sofa and armchairs upholstered in the company’s Roses linen (in a custom colourway) alongside characterful antique furniture, while table lamps topped with pleated silk shades, an antique gilt-framed mirror and selected objects complete the look. The striped and patterned rugs give an oriental touch to this very English style, but the light transforms and transports the room to the Mediterranean shores.
Here, the bathroom is an inviting space, furnished with an eclectic yet curated selection of trinkets that balance the clean lines of contemporary bathroom fixtures. Bathroom ideas include natural, earthy tones introduced with the louvered blinds, a rattan chair and oriental pierced wood room screen, and the more unusual idea of using the bathroom as a place to enjoy special treasures displayed on antique hanging shelves and a model yacht in full sail.
Even the seemingly simple powder room benefits from the best of both design worlds. A contemporary polished and carved stone sink and polished concrete surfaces highlight the Mediterranean aesthetic, while the gilt mirror and carved ebony elephant keepsake stroll along the shelf. Gilly and Geoff make sure there is always something to watch here, even in the smallest room in the house.
English style in sunnier climates
Gilly Newberry worked with antiques dealer-decorator Geoffrey Bennison and when he died and bequeathed a third of his business to her, she started Bennison Fabrics. The company specializes in hand-printed fabrics based on 18th and 19th century English and French textiles that Geoffrey originally discovered and reproduced.