Conversation with Patricia Vila Verde of House on the Douro
Perched on a hill, overlooking the Douro River east of Porto, House on the Douro is a stone house designed in nature, for nature. Every window is a frame, every tree is a sculpture, every shade an ideal spot to rest. A mix between tradition and modernity, the house resides in one of the most beautiful and historical valleys in Portugal. Let’s talk to Patricia, graphic designer and owner of this charming house with its stunning swimming pool.
Patricia, you are graphic designer. What are some of your ideas about architecture, design and decoration?
Patricia Vila Verde: “Today most architects think in 3-D. The computer has changed their way of working and building. The computer is a powerful tool and you need it of course, but I think, we need balance. Architects forget their pencil and it’s too bad. You don’t see a project with the same spirit if you use a computer versus a pencil. Try and you will see. Most architects forget this: the house must be made for humans, by humans, not for computers or their ego! This was our idea when we designed House on the River”.
Here, in this wild and historic Douro Valley, what did you use to restore this house?
PVV: “We used our eyes! This is a very wild and protected area with great natural beauty. When you’re walking around the house, you see nature all around. It makes sense! This is why our architect and builder took care in evaluating the physical landscape as well and said: “This tree or this rock, should go or stay” because in a certain way, it will be a part of the future house. Even the pool was designed and well oriented by him to respect the spirit of this old garden, the shape of the land, and the stone walls and different levels. The shade of our trees and position of our hills were also part of his reflection. This guy is an artist, a kind of sculptor”.
Inside the house, you created a mix between the old stone structure and contemporary style with metal, glass and wood. Why this contrast?
PVV: “The thickness of the old stone walls makes you feel calm and secure. At the same time, the fineness of the metallic structure and windows makes you lighter… Wood ceilings and floors provide a cool ambiance… I like those contrasts. For the rest, I wanted a large kitchen, like in my grandmother’s place. It’s more than a meeting place, is a sharing place. A place where you can be with your family and friends”.
Here the decoration is very simple. Only a few objects and furniture. Nothing more… Why?
PVV: “A house is not a finished project. For me it’s something you keep changing. The story is never over in terms of decoration in my house. I love objects, not style! I like the contrast between colors, functions and shapes. This is why most of the time I look for traditional objects like some old and basic furniture. Here I have sculpture from Africa and a bench from Brazil. Those objects serve a double function: the original and old one, and the new one. I like this idea: to give a new function to this old and simple object. That’s the spirit of my decoration”.
Do clients from BoutiqueHomes appreciate this kind of decoration?
PVV: “The clients from BoutiqueHomes look for something unique. They are looking for a new experience and a new emotion. A new way of decoration too. They can go to a fancy hotel but they are curious and they prefer discovering a unique house like this one where they can feel something different”.
To book at stay at the House on the Douro, click here.
Main photograph by Léonard Lièvre