What first attracted you to the property?
I was born and raised in Germany, but my parents are from Croatia and I always wanted to have a stone house here. I started to look a few years ago, but in Croatia it’s difficult to find an old house with clear titles – many properties are owned by people who’ve left the country, and it can be hard to clear the titles. About four years ago, we found this place in Brusje, a lovely village close to Hvar town. It had been the largest house in the village, but was basically just four walls, with no floors or roof.
How long did the renovation take?
The interior of the house was renovated within 10 months. We had a contractor from the mainland and he took his team and stayed here working on it full-time. It was a big project – and, as we speak, it’s not finished. The garden is the next big job, and we’re currently working on a summer kitchen outside. The pool is an architectural jewel – I think its modernity is a great contrast with the old house. That combination flows inside: the décor mixes 20th-century modernism with the traditional Dalmatian stone house. Most of the furniture is Danish design from the 1960s. It’s big and light and airy, so you feel you have space.
Do you know much about the house’s history?
It’s around 180 years old and was owned by the bishop of Hvar’s family. It was also used as a neighbourhood wine cellar – when we were clearing the house, we found iron from huge wine barrels. Everyone says the mulberry tree in the garden that gives the house its name was planted when it was built. It’s certainly a huge and very old tree. The house had been empty for the past 70 years – so we came and woke it up.
What is life like in Brusje?
The village is surrounded by lavender fields. When you come here in July, everything is lilac and smells of lavender. It’s not a remote place because you’re in the centre of the village, but it’s lovely and quiet. There’s no supermarket, someone comes by with a car every morning and sells bread. Hvar town is around 8km away, and has all the infrastructure you need: a really good variety of restaurants, wine bars and nightlife. And it’s easy to get here for the weekend as there are flights into Split Airport on the mainland. I love being in Brusje village. We live in Paris most of the time, so Croatian village life is a wonderful contrast.