Isabel López-Quesada, Biarritz. Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna/The Interior Archive

Inside the hen house fit for a banking dynasty

Spanish designer Isabel López-Quesada Biarritz crams so much good taste into her modest Biarritz farm house

Get Inside, and you soon realise that money doesn’t necessarily buy good taste. This new book gathers together 60 homes created by sixty of the world’s greatest interior designers and decorators. And sure, there are plenty of high-class homes with equally high price tags. The book includes many, many beautiful pieces of real estate in costly locales, such as London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong. Yet there are also many examples of exquisite dwellings fashioned in the most unlikely places.

The Madrid-based designer Isabel López-Quesada is no stranger to the high life, as well as the distorting influence of outrageous fortunes. “Born to a banking dynasty, López-Quesada grew up in a society that didn’t take her passion for design very seriously,” explains Inside, before quoting from an interview with the designer herself, who told Architectural Digest in 2017 that “back in the Eighties in Spain, interior decoration was considered something rich girls did before they got married.”

She has since proven them wrong; yes, she may have married, but she has also continued to create numerous prestigious interiors for private clients across the world, as well works for large, high-profile public customers such as British Airways and the Spanish Government – visitors to Spain’s embassies in Qatar, Senegal and Japan may well have come across her work.

In 2005 she bought an old pheasant farm in the French Basque country, close to the Atlantic town of Biarritz, with a view to creating a holiday home for her large family.

“With six sisters and three adult children to consider, López-Quesada knew that a guesthouse would be imperative when an overhaul of the dilapidated property began” explains the text in Inside. “An unlikely solution came in the form of a cluster of concrete henhouses 984 feet (300 m) from the main house. After demolishing all but one—which faced south and was bathed in sunlight— López-Quesada set about transforming it into an American-inspired, four-bedroom cabin constructed from salvaged materials.”

Timber beams and reclaimed furniture make this once rudimentary building far cosier. The designer also brightened the building’s colour palette by adding a Senegalese carpet and a patterned throw from India, alongside numerous other examples of craftsmanship.

Inside the concrete hen house fit for a banking dynasty

“I love the woodwork, I love the handcraft, and I love imperfect things,” she says. And it seems her guests agree. “My family says it’s my magnum opus,” she adds. To see further pictures as well as much more besides, order a copy of Inside here.