House

Chic Beach Shacks in Portugal's Answer to the Hamptons

Jewellery designer Suzanne Syz's thatched cabanas in Portugal's unspoilt Alentejo region provide a relaxed setting for her impressive collection of iconic furniture

was instantly smitten by Comporta when she visited her friends, antique dealer and interior designer Jacques Grange, in 2007. The seaside town, an hour's drive from Lisbon, is sometimes known as Portugal's Hamptons, and visits by the likes of Christian Louboutin and Julian Schnabel are not unknown. On her first trip, the Swiss jewellery designer noticed a small cabin for sale on a plot next to her friends' house. Though she was tempted, the timing was not ideal, as she had just finished the major restoration of a house in Tuscany. 

But her friends encouraged her, even suggesting how she could afford the house. 'Jacques was very familiar with the pieces in my art and design collection and suggested I sell a 1953 "Millepiedi" dining table by Italian designers Franco Campo and Carlo Graffi and the six chairs that went with it,' Suzanne says. With the money from that sale, she was able to not only purchase the cabin but also pay for its refurbishment. 

The plot is on a 20-kilometre stretch of land, with dunes and pine trees that catch the Atlantic breeze. On the other side of the dunes lie wetlands dotted with rice fields that render the landscape beautifully lush. The charming wooden cabins with straw roofs are typical of this area. 

Suzanne designed the interior herself, getting useful architectural and structural advice from Pierre and Jacques. The works were completed in three phases. In 2007, the first cabin was built using the basis of an existing building and its vernacular style as inspiration. There is a sitting room, kitchen, two bedrooms with en suites and an attic that provides extra accommodation. It has a beach-house vibe, thanks to the furniture made from natural materials, striped fabrics and an abundance of rattan, wood and ceramics. 'I wanted a relaxed atmosphere suited to living near the beach and to decorate in an eclectic style,' Suzanne says.

In 2012, she built a second cabin, linked to the original with wooden boardwalks to enhance the feeling of beach living. It houses her large bedroom, which has its own sitting area and bathroom. A third cabin, used for staff, as well as a utility room and a garage, was completed this year. 

Her taste in interior decoration is very similar to her style of jewellery: she loves all things extravagant, fun, imaginative and colourful. But she also likes things that are timeless. In the cabins, she has mixed Nineties design - a armchair, for example - with Fifties pieces, such as an armchair by legendary French interior designer Jean Royère, a table by Karl Springer and a hand-painted cabinet by .

Suzanne lives in Switzerland and is constantly travelling to exhibitions and trade fairs. But whenever she can, she escapes to Comporta. Does she miss the table that she sold 10 years ago to allow all this to happen? 'Maybe one day I'll be able to buy it again at auction,' she says.    

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