Cal Antonia was the village bar, theatre, and social hub of the village we live in: Oristà.
How did we end up living in a tiny village in rural Catalunya? Well, we were looking for a place large enough to accommodate artists visiting our residency, close enough to Barcelona to make airport runs – and days in the city – not too onerous, and yet quiet enough to offer something completely different to city life.
It has taken some time to adjust to the new setting and a lot of time to renovate the house. This page captures the key points along that journey!
We return to the UK from San Francisco. Our appetite for living overseas is whetted…
The UK votes to leave the EU.
As a result, we decide to leave the UK.
We contact estate agents in Spain. We're looking for a house close enough to Barcelona (but not too far), and in a tranquil setting (but not too remote).
Hence, we find Oristà.
We are the proud owners of Cal Antonia– previously the village bar and theatre – with the intention of turning it into an artist residency, and a home.
Work begins on the first major phase to renovate Cal Antonia: we remove the roof from the old theatre to turn it into a walled garden.
This was the largest, most disruptive step and involved safely disposing of a bunch of asbestos.
We had turned over the entire ground floor of the house to the contractors, so it was a pleasure to be able to use this part of the house again – even if the "garden" was still a muddy rectangle.
The next big phase of work was in the ground floor of Cal Antonia. There had previously been a restaurant, kitchen, and bathrooms for the theatre in this area – we wanted to convert it into a living space for us.
Up until this point, we had been living cramped into a couple of rooms on our first floor. Having a proper kitchen, a modern bathroom, and a beautiful bedroom made a huge difference to how we thought about Cal Antonia.
Oristà has an annual Festa Major – a week of meals, craft fairs, music, and parties – and we were proud to exhibit some pieces by artists who had stayed with us.
Having a relaxing and beautiful garden was a focus for Cal Antonia since day zero. After a punishing schedule of construction on the house itself, 2019 was the first planting season where we could start making real progress on making this garden a reality.
Cantilafont is an annual festival which moves from village to village in our local area.
We were pleased to convert Cal Antonia and its garden into a green room area for the performers. It was so much fun to have the house filled with artists and musicians, and to have a festival come to our doorstep – in fact into the house itself.
We rounded off the busy 2019 season with Cherie, Helen, Rob, and Kira at Cal Antonia – artists, writers, and photographers.
Our residency for artists, Cel del Nord, is developing well and building momentum.
Work begins on the last major phase to renovate Cal Antonia: we remove the entire roof and replace it – preparing to turn the old attic into our permanent living space.
As we hosted friends and family with us for Christmas, we decided to break Phase III into two parts.
Hence Phase III(a) – replacing the roof – was completed and the Cal Antonia laid dormant over winter waiting for Phase III(b)…
We decide to cancel all of our in-person visits, and Odette instead focusses on Virtual Residencies.
Although we love having people stay with us at the house, the lower access barrier for online residencies leads to an interesting and more diverse group of attendees.
The top floor of Cal Antonia is an empty space – a blank canvas.
After Phase III(a) it is watertight, but now we need to build rooms, fit heating, and install windows and doors.