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architecture

I’m always curious about abandoned houses.  I wonder who lived there and what happened to the house.

Renovating an old house, especially one that hasn’t been lived in for a while, is not an easy task.  Last week, two stories about two very different renovations were in the spotlight.

First up, the New York Times  wrote about the controversy surrounding the William Mason House in Thompson, CT.

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Photo: New York Times

Famous interior designer Mario Buatta bought it twenty-two years ago.  The Mason house is a gorgeous example of Gothic Revival architecture and was built in 1845.

At first, people in the small town were excited that a designer like Mr. Buatta bought the home. They believed the home was in good architectural hands.  However, no work has been done in years.  The house has become a horrible eyesore and is falling apart.

Everyone knows historic renovations are tricky and things take time.  However, Buatta’s dismissive attitude has alienated the town.  He has worked on massive mansions four times the size of the Mason house which has thirteen rooms.

The house is located right on the village green.  I understand why the residents are not happy with the snobby and arrogant “Prince of chintz.”

Now for a more uplifting tale:

David Lebovitz linked to Messynessychic’s post about Australians Karina and Craig Waters on his Facebook page.  In 2013 the couple purchased the Chateau de Gudanes, an abandoned 18th century mansion in the Midi-Pyrénées.  The chateau had been on the market for over four years.

While many people dream of taking on a project like this, the reality is that the renovation and upkeep for a place with ninety-four rooms is enormously expensive.

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Those stairs!!  The height of the ceilings!!

Click over to Messynessychic to see additional photos and learn more about the renovation.  I cannot wait to see their progress.

The award-winning Fathom Magazine is celebrating Sicily this week.  I’m trilled that I get to join in the festivities.

IMG_4629My article is about Sicily and the solo traveler.

When I booked my trip, I didn’t think it was a big deal that I was traveling alone.   Then once everyone and their mother kept saying, “Wow, you’re going to Sicily by yourself?!”, I started to get nervous.

You can read about my Sicilian adventures HERE.

The entire series is fantastic.  I want to book a trip now.

 

How funky are these chairs?

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I am a big fan of Kelly Wearstlers commercial work, yet the Viceroy in Anguilla took me by surprise.

A few years ago I met clients for a drink at the bar.  At first, when I walked in, the décor seemed so “uncaribbean” to me.

Then I walked around.  It IS very Caribbean.  Wearstler’s use of natural materials, her color palette, and the subtle nod to more tradition Caribbean design makes the Viceroy one my favorite hotel spaces.

This hotel is huge and could easily feel very corporate (thinking of a certain hotel on the Dutch side of St. Maarten that ruined one of the best beaches on the island).

Instead it’s unique and jaw dropping gorgeous.

Not a bad place to meet for drinks, especially with a locals’ discount.

I have more meetings this weekend about my Caribbean project.

Feeling very inspired

Buon weekend!

 

 

Last year I wrote about the vacation home in Tuscany I’m working on with architect Domenico Minchili.

Our clients had some photos taken and below are a few of them.

First, a before shot of the living room.

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After.

The room is so much lighter.  The new “old” floors make a huge difference as does the paint color.  I was consumed for days regarding which shade of Farrow & Ball white was the best white for the  walls.  We decided to use Skimming Stone.

The chairs were custom made by Tondini & Radicchi. So were all the draperies in the house.

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One of the bedrooms mid-renovation.

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After.

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A bathroom before.

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After.

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Wider shot of the living room.  The sofas, coffee table, and sconces are custom.

The studio.

This room receives little natural light.  Many people assume that a small dark room must be painted a very light color in order to make it look bigger.  Not true.  It seems counter-intuitive but going darker gives a small room more depth.

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One of my Italian friends called this décor, “Relaxed Chic.”   Another friend said it was “Casual Luxury.”  Both work for me.

Every bedroom, and its bathroom is unique, yet the entire home is cohesive.

The paint is from Farrow & Ball.

Most of the new furniture was custom made.  We also sourced pieces from Flamant, Barthel, and small shops in Rome and Tuscany.

Our fabric sources were, Dedar, Ralph Lauren Home, Kathryn M. Ireland, and Pierre Frey.

If you would like to know the specific colors or more information about the fabric or furniture, please feel free to ask me in the comments section.

This property is available for vacation rental.  It’s in the heart of the Chianti region surrounded by vineyards.  The views are stupendous.

For more information (and some exterior photos), please visit the luxury rental  Abercrombie & Kent website.

Photos by: Mario Flores

Before my first trip to Italy, nine years ago, I had to cut my vacation short.  The production company I worked for decided to shut down, permanently, two weeks before Christmas.  Happy Holidays everyone!

I was going to scrap the entire trip but my family was very worried about my mental state and insisted I go.

I decided to travel to only one city for just one week.  I narrowed down my choices to Rome or Florence.  One of my good friends in L.A. is a hardcore Italophile.  She proclaimed that I was a Rome person and should save Florence for another trip.

I’ve been to Florence twice. The art is stupendous and the city is beautiful.  Yet each time I felt anxious and couldn’t wait to return to Rome.  It’s not as if Rome is a laid back place.  However, Florence is a much smaller city and cannot handle the hordes of tourists and study aboard students.

Well, I need to get over it because I must see the new Portrait Firenze.  The architect/interior designer is Michele Bonan.  I’ve written about how much I LOVE his work, especially, the newish J.K. Place in Rome.

The hotel is owned by the Ferragamo family (the Lungarno Collection) and is located in the heart of the Historic Center. It has only thirty-six rooms and killer views of the Ponte Vecchio. It’s scheduled to open this spring.

I could think of worse places to have an aperitivo.

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This bathroom! The double shower heads, the warm marble, the tub, everything.

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Sigh. No words.

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Yes, please.

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Photos: Lungarno Collection

This week, LONNY wrote about the new J.K. Place Hotel.   Believe the hype.   It’s gorgeous.

Months ago, one of my vendors told me I had to see the chartreuse DEDAR fabric architect/interior designer Michele Bonan used in the cafe. I finally had a chance to see it when my friend Erica and I went to meet a colleague of hers and his wife who were staying at the hotel.

I told Erica we must add J.K. to our list.  We are very hard on places when it comes to cocktails. It’s not enough to have an excellent bartender, the décor must be on point.

Erica’s colleague showed us their room.  I almost cried when I saw the bathroom.   This one is a little larger.  Look at that shower.  The floors.  The marble.  Sigh.

This bathroom. No words.

This bathroom. No words.

Bonan is one of my favorite designers and what he did with the space is stunning.   The building used to be the architecture school for La Sapienza (the largest university in Rome).

My kind of bar.

My kind of bar.

Inspired by Tom Ford’s film, A SINGLE MAN, the atmosphere is what folks back in the States call “grown and sexy.”

It’s a very unique space in Rome and I think the bar/lobby will appeal to people who are, well, grown and sexy.  I don’t see Flip-Flop Girlshanging out here.  Grazie dio!

I could spend hours in the library.

The library.

The library.

For more pictures of J.K. Place Roma, you can click on their gallery HERE.

Photos: J.K. Place Roma

Last Sunday, my friends Erica and Darius decided to take advantage of the great weather and organized a quick walk through EUR.

I still have problems pronouncing the area’s name correctly.  The second time I visited Rome, a friend from L.A. was in town.  She asked her lover (they met the year before) if he could show us around EUR.

L.A. Friend:  Marco, can you drive us to E.U.R.?  (spelling it out in English)

Marco: Dove? (Where?)

LAF: E.U.R.

Marco:  Non capisco.

LAF:  Big buildings, Mussolini.

Marco:  Oh, AY-oor.  Certo. 

That was a fun afternoon as my friend spoke no Italian and Marco spoke several languages but none of them were English.  However, they spoke the universal language of love lust, so it was all good.

On Sunday, I met up with the rest of the Twitter folks (aka Tweeps).  One of Darius and Erica’s friends was born in the area and still lives there.  He knows the area well and it was fascinating to hear his point of view.

If you have any interest in architecture or 20th century Roman history, EUR is definitely worth a visit. It’s a very unique neighborhood.

Here are a few snapshots from Sunday.

Darius jumps.  He landed safely.

Darius jumps. He landed safely.

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro - aka "The Square Colosseum".

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro – aka “The Square Colosseum.”

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A relief of Italian history.  Notice the large Mussolini at the bottom.

A relief of Italian history. Interesting portrait of Mussolini. What is he doing?  (center – bottom)

It's JFK.

It’s JFK.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City designed by McKim, Mead & White.  The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Bath of Caracalla.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City, designed by McKim, Mead & White. The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Baths of Caracalla and other buildings from ancient Rome.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini.  There's outside seating.  Perfect during a warm evening.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini. There’s outside seating. Perfect during a warm evening.

I cannot wait to pick up a copy of the November issue of ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST (USA).

One of the stand out articles is about the restoration of a castle in Umbria.  The architect was Domenico Minchilli and the interiors were decorated by Martyn Lawrence Bullard.  The two were brought together by the client, Evgeny Lebedev.

I wrote about Domenico and the project we’re working on in Tuscany HERE.

Domenico showed me a few before pictures of the castle.  As I looked at the photos I thought,”the word ruins doesn’t convey what I’m seeing. Perhaps a pile of rocks would be a better description.”

I was floored by the transformation. It is truly inspiring.

The November issue is on newsstands (Stateside) now.

Buon weekend!

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One of my favorite American stores has recently announced their collaboration with the incredible, Milan-based architect/interior designer, Paola Navone.  To say I’m a fan of her work is a huge understatement.

I would like to buy so many things in this collection.  The darker blues remind me of Rome at dusk or the color of the sky above the mountains in St. Martin.

I wonder how much it would cost to ship a few items to Rome.  Okay, I need to stop.  I once had to pay €40 to get a pack of Girl Scout cookies out of customs that my sister had sent to me.  I love Samoas but come on, that’s bananas.

I will have to appreciate this collection from afar.   It’s the very definition of Stylish Simplicity.

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For more information about Paola and to see the entire collection, HERE is the website.

I’ve been to Bologna once before for a very quick day trip with friends.   This time I went for work.

Bologna is consistently rated as one the most liveable cities on the planet.  The cuisine is amazing, there are many companies based in the area in a variety of sectors, and a well educated population (the oldest university in the Western world was founded in Bologna).

I knew this before I started researching my trip.  I didn’t know, however, that there were so many fantastic stores for interiors. I was in décor heaven and I could not get over how friendly everyone was.

My sister’s former colleague, John, is in Bologna writing his dissertation and we had lunch at Drogheria della Rosa.  It was just as delicious as I remembered and it’s one of John’s favorite restaurants in Bologna.

John was kind enough to bring me a bunch of shelter and cooking magazines from the States.  Later I met up with the lovely Tina for an aperitivo before catching the Italo train back to Rome.  It was a nice way to end a long but productive day.

I hope I will be able to return to Bologna soon.

Here are three of the showrooms I adored:

BORGO DELLA TOVAGLIE

Borgo delle Tovaglie

Borgo delle Tovaglie

Housed in a former furrier’s workshop, this store blends design, art, and fashion.

Borgo delle Tovaglie began as a tablecloth manufacturer in the early ’90s.  In 2005 Valentina Muggia and her husband Giuliano Di Paolo bought the company.  Today the brand is internationally known for it’s quality and style.   

This is their first store and it’s a beauty. They carry a variety of brands in addition to their own.  There was so much to see (and buy).   I loved their plates in a bucket.  Very clever and useful.

Borgo delle Tovaglie

Via Farini, 10

+39 051-330938

www.borgodelletovaglie.com

CAMERA CON VISTA

Camera Con Vista

Camera Con Vista

This store is located in the very pretty Piazza Santo Stefano. Owned by Matteo and Rebecca, here you find one of kind objects from Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, and other countries.

They carry jaw-dropping antiques and stunning modern pieces that have been refurbished into furniture.

There are always new pieces coming in.  You never know what you might discover during your visit.

Camera Con Vista

Via Santa Stefano 14/2a

+39 051-22468

www.cameraconvista.biz

FABRIZIO COCCHI

Interior designer Fabrizio Cocchi’s showroom has an elegant, glamorous vibe.  It’s bold and full of color.  The photo below is of the neutral section.  When I first walked in, there was a lot of orange and red.

Cocchi also had quite the collection of design books.  I would have gladly sat on one of his custom sofas and read for the afternoon.

Okay, that would’ve been weird and rude as it’s a store not a library.

Fabrizio Cocchi

Fabrizio Cocchi

Photo: Fabriziococchi.com

Fabrizio Cocchi

Via Castiglione, 17d

+39 051-264358

www.fabriziococchi.com

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