Timeless functionality at Casa das 4 Serras: interview with Joāo Serra

Stripped back and atemporal, Casa das 4 Serras is an ode to family, comfort, and natural spaces. Joao Serra explains the home’s history and conception.
Timeless functionality at Casa das 4 Serras: interview with Joāo Serra

Gazing out at the endless tree-topped horizon, Casa das 4 Serras sits perched on a hill in the middle of a lush Portuguese forest. Built as a family home, its toned-down and contemporary design harbour a retro interior perfect for creating timeless memories with loved ones. Join us as Joao Serra walks us through his home.


For the Serra bunch, home is where the family gathers. Growing up, both Joao and his wife Maria had family homes as a point of anchorage where each member could always return, no matter how much time passed. With four daughters of their own, they wanted to build that same nest for themselves.

Casa das 4 Serras thus emerged as a project to build somewhere everyone could gather and touch base. In fact, the home’s name, “Casa das 4 Serras,” is an homage to the specific and important role given to family: while “serras” refers to the hills where the home is built, it also doubles as a reference to Joao and Maria Serra’s four daughters.



The Serra couple had dreamed of this project for a long time, seeking a home outside of Portugal's gem of a capital, Lisbon. Having taken many holidays in this area near Melides, they were intimately familiar with the location, its beautiful beaches, and its unspoilt nature.

However, they found the specific plot that would become his dream home by chance: one rainy Sunday morning, Joao was browsing available properties and immediately happened upon this one. He scheduled a visit with the seller and as soon as he set foot on the plot, he knew it was the right place to build a home.

casa-das-4-serras-exterior-home-facade-forest-min (1)



Maria, a more analytical buyer, wasn’t as instantly convinced, needing to research further before committing. After a few months, both the head and the heart in the couple agreed: this plot would become the perfect family home.


The Serra family got to work creating the perfect nest right away. The main goal was to build a contemporary home where every element has a purpose, steering clear of excessive or ostentatious decor. Functionality is at the heart of the home, and this not only for aesthetic reasons: as a second home, Joao and Maria wanted this property to be low-maintenance.


The driving desire for a stripped-back and purpose driven design ultimately gave the home an atemporal feeling, not shaded by any particular architectural era.

Despite a contemporary and functional design, there’s a timeless feeling to the home. This is in part due to the pieces that populate it, many of which were designed and built specifically for Casa das 4 Serras.

The architect, Carlos Souza Coelho from PMC/AAVV Architects, is a family friend who shares a similar philosophy to home design, favouring simple design over baroque expressions. He was aptly suited to this project, perfectly understanding the purpose-driven design the couple wanted for their family home.




He was thus able to build retro pieces to fit the space, for instance the cupboards in the kitchen and bathrooms, providing every comfort you could want on your luxury Portugal holidays without any overly splashy displays.

Aside from the architect-designed furniture, Joao and Maria also meticulously selected several favourite pieces from the family’s history to incorporate into Casa das 4 Serras, building their home around the memories they make there. Of these, they were glad to bring their favourite couch which no longer fit in their Lisbon house. 

Around their stunning and almost immaterial dining table — specifically chosen for its fine structure that wouldn’t overwhelm the space — they placed a set of retro Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs, some of which they already owned and others which were sourced to complete the set.


Joao in a Cesca chair; the Serras' couch from Lisbon

Gio Ponti card table

Finally, the late ‘50s card table in the living room is particularly special to them: this beautiful piece designed by Gio Ponti not only bears a nostalgic look, it’s also the perfect seat for family game nights huddled around a board game or deck of cards.

“It’s the piece we hold closest to our hearts. If every piece of furniture was to disappear from the house, the card table would be the one we miss most.”


Part of this property’s immediate appeal to Joao and Maria was its secluded and natural location. To them, isolation and silence are some of today’s most precious luxuries, providing treasured moments outside of time.




Casa das 4 Serras was built to afford just that: designed to have a minimal impact on the sanctity of its setting, the home perfectly integrates a stripped-down indoors within a raw and breathtaking outdoor space. The great windows open almost fully, blurring the lines between interior and exterior with a staggering view of over 60 kilometres of uninterrupted coast.

However, the home doesn’t compromise its cosiness and seclusion by favouring open spaces. The couple set out to build a comfortable shelter, providing a feeling of protection and safety in front of an expansive view.




This is even more true thanks to the home’s timeless design for all seasons. Whereas many people visit Melides only in the summer, the Serra family wanted their property to be comfortable year-round. Not only did they create a well-insulated sanctuary that would be temperate in both winter and summer, they also incorporated wood into their design for a pleasant infusion of warmth.

With this beautiful haven to come to, the family is happy to visit in both the on- and off-seasons, enjoying deserted beaches in the shoulder months and bathing in the sea up until late October!

“There’s no overwhelming human presence, but just enough that you don’t feel too alone.”



The home offers respite from active city life in Lisbon without completely cutting you off from civilization. With many beaches and villages nearby, you can easily head out on the town for supper or visit the beautiful natural spaces just a stone’s throw from your stay. Joao recommends renting a bike to discover the seafront, rice fields, or hills that surround Casa das 4 Serras.

End your day in town at one of the many traditional restaurants nearby — Joao recommends Fadista or Melidense for a delicious and fresh seafood meal in a purified, no-frills setting. Unless, of course, you want to try one of the Michelin Star restaurant in Portugal.

No matter what you choose to do, Casa das 4 Serras is shrouded in a nostalgic and atemporal feeling that will give you timeless and lasting memories.

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