Bespoke master carpentry to furnish 3 brand-new luxury Algarve villas in Salema

The Carpenter Van

After 6 years of hard work, our ‘grand designs’ project to design and build 3 adjacent luxury ocean villas in Salema is now complete.  We think the story behind our bespoke, hand-made wooden furniture has helped us create perhaps the perfect Algarve holiday villa…

We needed to match the standard of the villas themselves with 3 x sets of the highest quality woodwork to give a distinct focal point to each – so we commissioned something special…

Introducing the @thecarpentervan – master carpenters in Portugal

We discovered husband-and-wife team Gabi and Gui (aka The Carpenter Van) by chance when they posted on an Algarve Facebook group offering their services.

Based in nearby Portimão with a workshop high in the Monchique mountains, we had a video call before meeting in person. Impressed with their ‘teamwork’ ethos, Gabi and Gui were commissioned to work in collaboration with our interior designer to produce the following for each of our 3 new villas:

  • Dining table with 4cm solid timber top and metal legs (240 x 125cm)
  • Dining bench with solid timber top and metal legs (to match dining table)
  • Coffee table to match dining table, i.e., a mini version of the table (100 x 70cm)
  • Under TV floating solid timber shelf (125 x 25cm)
  • Fully fitted bunk bed for family suite
  • Bedside tables in solid timber – 4 different styles per villa (60 x 40 x 30cm)
  • Bedroom solid timber floating shelves, 2 for each villa in the back bedrooms (130 x 25cm)

The carpentry journey – from idea to completion in over 8 months

The villa layouts may be identical, but we wanted subtle variations to the furniture to make each villa individual and different. We hoped the furniture would give them depth and their own unique personalities. The brief was simple – clean, minimalist, and sophisticated, with an elegant finish.

Communications were with Gabi, who was always friendly and helpful, meaning master carpenter Gui could do what he does best – creating the furniture. Gabi worked with care and detail, going above and beyond to get things right.

Gabi and Gui first wanted to visit the villas to get a feel for the project.  After this, Gabi asked us to send her photos and links of furniture we liked for inspiration. Between us we began to brainstorm and shortlist on Pinterest mood boards.

Gabi proposed using a different wood type for each villa, explaining this would give a unique texture, pattern, and tone to offer a significant distinction between the 3 villas.

She also suggested using a different style of carpentry for each villa, to allow them to harmonise each home as one.

The idea for the table bases was for them to be hand-made in iron metal, each in a different style. Gui could make them himself, having worked as a welder in Brazil for 15 years.

Our wood choices were as follows:

Wood Choices

  • Castanho (Chestnut): Ideal for organic shapes.
  • Platano (Sycamore) Offering a unique pattern.
  • Cedro Australiano (Cedar): A naturally light wood, very durable and commonly used for boat construction.
  • Calvalho (Oak): This would have a ripped effect as it was not possible to source wide boards.
  • Sobreio (Cork Oak): A symbol of Portugal, a tree very used by locals to extract the bark then used to make wine corks.
  • Nogueira (Walnut): This would have a ripped effect as it was not possible to source wide boards.
  • Acacia: A warmer colour, with different tones on a single wooden board.

We decided on the following type of wood and styles of woodwork for each villa:

We decided on 2 smaller benches rather than one large bench. The logic was that small benches are easier to manage, more dynamic and less heavy.

Carpentry Van Dining Table

Beautiful, simple and modern carpentry

The Carpenter Van worked with love and honesty, and we could not be happier with the outcome of the project. The star of each villa is the table and Gui is as much an artist as he is a carpenter.  Simply Salema’s brand-new ocean villas have amazing handmade unique furniture. which we hope, showcases the Carpenter Van to help them find similar commissions in the future.

About the Carpenter Van, in Gabi’s own words…

“We were both born and raised in Brazil, but despite being Brazilian, we met in Australia in 2018.

In 2020, we came to Portugal to visit our family, and with the pandemic and the closed borders, we were forced to rebuild and restart our lives from scratch.

Gui, despite his experience with iron and construction, always had the desire to work with wood. I have always wanted to start my own business. We combined these two desires, and, in the midst of the crisis, we saw an opportunity that we named The Carpenter Van!

Since then, we have completed dozens of projects across the country, from motorhome construction, decks, pergolas for cafés and restaurants, to custom furniture for homes or local accommodations.

What we love most about our work is undoubtedly the fact that each project is unique; there is no copy.

Speaking of which, it reminds me of the Salema project, where we had the chance to work with three different types of wood at the same time, and for one of them, you gave us the power of choice. That moment will undoubtedly remain forever in our memory.”

If you like the look of our custom-made wooden furniture at our brand-new ocean villas in Salema and are interested in something similar, please reach out to the Carpenter Van via their Instagram page here.

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