Spare Time


Even with just flashlights in hand, designers Serge Castella and Jason Flinn knew they had found the right new home for themselves. Although the two, partners in life and in business, had lived not far from the tiny Spanish village of Rupià for more than two decades, they hadn’t noticed the small, abandoned house on the edge of town. “Because we spend so much time in the town—having coffee there, buying our daily bread, socializing with the storeowners—Jason and I were told about this little palace-like house that nobody knew what to do with,” recalls Castella. “When we went inside, where the electricity had long been turned off, it took a mere 15 minutes of being there for us to recognize its potential. We wanted to bring it back and live there together.”

Castella and Flinn have lived in and restored other houses in Spain’s Empordà region, but this was the first of its scale and in-town locale. As for the region, it’s a bucolic area Flinn refers to as the “undiscovered Tuscany or Provence of Spain, a gem of an area where countryside turns into hills that end at the sea.” For many years, the two shared a house they had restored in the countryside, where they could keep their horses and tame a large garden. But now that they live in the town proper, the couple have become regular fixtures of the animated four-block main stretch that comprises Rupià, whose founding dates from the medieval period. “I hadn’t lived in a town for the last 25 years,” says Flinn, “but it’s really neat to be here now, to be able to walk out our back door and have coffee and see people right away.”

Castella and Flinn, who work not only as interior designers but also as designers of furnishings and dealers of Continental antiques, have a special relationship to and understanding of old houses. They jointly describe the dynamic of how a house dictates to them what it’s supposed to become. Once they’re able to “read” a dwelling, feel its history, understand its architecture and layout, the two let the building “take us in the direction it requires,” says Castella. “The challenge here was to create a modern space within the soul of an old house.”

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This story appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of MILIEU.