Estonians’ love for southern Europe

Posted 09

Estonians’ love for southern Europe

Estonians are an impressive nation. We are everywhere, and sometimes it seems like there are as many of us living abroad as within Estonia’s borders. In recent months, due to geopolitics and the economic downturn, many of our friends and acquaintances have expressed the desire to leave Estonia and settle in Southern Europe. Most often, these discussions revolve around buying property in Spain.

Real estate in Spain

This trend isn’t new. Since the 1990s, we’ve heard stories of fellow Estonians who have established themselves in Spain, whether in Marbella, Torrevieja, Alicante, or other sunny locales.

Estonians’ interest in Spanish real estate is diverse, ranging from seeking a new home to finding a winter retreat or rental property. Many are interested in new developments, but it’s essential to consider their locations. Often, new developments are situated in beautiful natural environments but far from everyday conveniences like shops, restaurants, and public transport.

Estonians appreciate various Spanish architectural styles: some prefer traditional designs with stone floors, small kitchens, and thin walls, while others favor more European standards, opting for newer apartments or villas. Additionally, in Spain, it’s common for each bedroom to have its own bathroom, which can be a significant selling point.

Purchasing property in Spain requires careful planning and the involvement of a local lawyer. A lawyer ensures the property meets building codes and that all related documentation is in order, preventing future problems and additional costs. It’s also likely you’ll need interior design services from someone familiar with local requirements or with local contacts.

Interior design services for Palazzo’s international projects

The furniture and design studio that started in Pärnu 20 years ago has since helped clients design and furnish homes, offices, and public spaces across many European countries. However, most of our international work has been on Spanish properties. Usually, these projects come from satisfied clients who decide to establish a new home under the warm sun and seek our advice and help in designing and furnishing it.  

Such projects often land on our desk unexpectedly, but we’re always prepared. The first projects posed the most challenges, but today, managing these remotely has become easier and more efficient thanks to experience and technological advancements. As the WWII-era U.S. military leader Omar Bradley said, “Amateurs talk strategy, experts talk logistics.” We agree; good logistics and process knowledge are key to a project’s success, as is choosing the right team.

Our loyal clients’ new home in Spain

Our expertise does not extend to architectural design. We come into play once the client has started discussions with an architect and chosen builders. That’s the ideal time to involve an interior designer. One exciting project began, as usual, with a client’s unexpected call: “We’ve put our house in Estonia up for sale and found a property in Spain that needs redesigning and furnishing.” A week later, we were on a plane to Malaga.

The chosen property had unusual architecture for the area and was on a multi-level plot. Naturally, there was a pool to be restored and modernized. The plot, located on a hill, included fruit trees that had to be preserved during the work. The challenge was exciting: enhancing the layout, deepening the basement to create a guest apartment, outdoor kitchen, and home theater, modernizing finishes and furnishings, and sourcing furniture from Italy.

Necessary interior design services

The creative process started on-site, followed by the design phase with close client collaboration. Drawings went back and forth until we achieved the perfect layout and moved on to lighting plans and interior details.  

The overall style remained minimalist, with Mediterranean influences and characteristic Spanish marble floors. An open kitchen with an island and well-lit dining area became the heart of the home. Hidden behind tall doors were all the kitchen essentials for the five-member family and their guests to enjoy cooking together. Adequate storage space was a priority, especially for the sporty family’s equipment.

Monitoring the interior design project

Finding a reliable builder and ensuring no language barriers is crucial. Fortunately, our partner firm had multilingual staff, and all details were thoroughly discussed. Construction principles vary by country, and Spain is no exception. Estonians are used to meticulous waterproofing, precise finishes, straight lines, and perfect joints. Southern builders don’t always prioritize these details, which can cause stress if you prefer perfection. Hence, staying in Estonia might be better for those who find this approach unsettling.

It’s not enough to send the project to the client and hope the local builder understands it correctly. As in any country, including Spain, builders tend to take liberties and overlook crucial details, causing expensive mistakes for the client. We visited the site several times, saving time, stress, and money in the long run by providing at least partial supervision. For example, we marked electrical outlets and plumbing positions on the walls, which helped during furniture installation.

Furniture, lighting, and textile logistics from Italy to Spain

When the wall finishes were nearly done and wiring completed, the pre-packaged furniture arrived from Italy. Early logistics planning is crucial. We provided the transport company with Google Maps images of the property, discussing how the large truck would maneuver and unload. Despite the extra costs, it ultimately saved time and money.

We asked manufacturers to label furniture for different rooms, simplifying the unloading process and reducing errors. Accurate preparation and knowing the exact number of arriving packages prevent the inconvenience of tracking down missing items later.

Choosing a responsible logistics partner is vital to ensure all items are securely packed and arrive intact. In hindsight, the only damage was a minor dent in a chair leg.

Skilled installation

Preparation for installation and having additional fasteners and components on hand is essential, especially for specific furniture items. We prefer to use installers familiar with the particular brands involved. There’s a significant difference in quality, and the more valuable the collections, the easier it is to make mistakes. We trust our installer but ensure they’re well-prepared and aware of the products they’ll be working with.  

Living room 3D

Furniture installation for such projects also requires the presence of one of Palazzo’s studio owners. The trip to a Spanish property is long, and the responsibility is significant. An experienced person must be on-site, ready to address any situation and communicate with factory technicians and our head office. This person also reassures the client, keeps them informed, and quickly finds solutions to any issues.  

These projects often have budgets reaching hundreds of thousands, and any mistake is costly. We must be equipped with the necessary tools and know how to use them to make on-site adjustments, ensuring satisfaction for both the client and the uncompromising interior designer.