Archive

Tag Archives: Italy

The American series AMERICAN DREAM BUILDERS started airing this week in Italy on the channel LEI.

Hosted by Nate Berkus, it’s a mash up between EXTREME MAKEOVERS and TOP DESIGN.  I have always wondered about the reality of the former.  They do a lot of structural changes.  How well was the construction, plumbing, and electrical work executed when they have only a week to demolish and rebuild?  Could the owners afford the increase in property taxes?  So many questions.

One thing I really like about this show is that two teams work on two houses from a similar era and/or style.  It’s compelling to see how the teams agree (or not) on an overall aesthetic for their house and then how the individual designers design their rooms.

There is a mix of designers, contractors, and landscape architects.  Of course, there are some strong personalities.  Reality TV would be boring without them.

We are three episodes in and so far it’s fantastic.  The show is entertaining and educational.  Décor is very subjective but it’s interesting to hear the judges explain why they believe a room doesn’t work.  Sometimes it’s a design issue.  For example, the team did not address the layout issues.  Other times, it’s about the décor.  Those debates get heated.

I cannot wait to see who wins.  There are some very talented designers on this show.

Why do I miss Sicily?   There are Sicilian restaurants in Rome.

Perhaps this is only an infatuation.  My first trip to Sicily was just last year, which I wrote about in FATHOM.  Maybe the island will lose its hold on me after a few more trips, or years.  We’ll see.

Like the cuisine, the art and architecture of Sicily has been influenced by the diverse cultures of its various rulers.

Every day I stopped by to see the Burial of Santa Lucia, painted by Caravaggio in 1608, located in the Santa Lucia alla Badia church. There is something very special about seeing art in the context that it was created for.

In the early 2000’s many architects and interior designers started to buy and renovate houses in the area.  I kept getting lost in little courtyards and side streets.  There was inspiration all around me and design elements that gave me some ideas for my Caribbean beach house project.

Below are a few of my favorite things:

How pretty is this packaging? I received a gift from this store on my birthday.  Erica’s daughter picked it out.  That five year-old has excellent taste.

bagno_bc

Photo: ortigiasicily.com

As someone who was raised Methodist, I’m still thrown by some of the more intense art in Catholic churches.  My childhood church had stained glass with images of things like Jesus chilling with some shepherds.

Here is the patron saint of Siracusa, Santa Lucia.

IMG_7744

Clever use of a satellite dish.

IMG_8109

Spiderman on the side of the Municipal Building representing the heroic spirit of the people. I’m trying to find out who the artist is and when the work was installed.

IMG_8093 IMG_8094

Cool planter outside a house that faces the sea.

IMG_7957 IMG_7963 IMG_7896

Rome-based artist UNO and his latest installation.

IMG_7927

Also from Rome, Alice Pasquini.  Erica and I went to see her and UNO work on their murals. This is a school in Siracusa.

IMG_7935

The new and the old.

IMG_7885 IMG_8183 IMG_7943

I saw these fishing baskets all over my neighborhood.

IMG_8088

Love the door.

IMG_7891

And this gate.

IMG_7852

This alley showing a sliver of the sea was up the street.

IMG_8013 IMG_8017

IMG_8048

I’m thinking about my next trip. Maybe I should go to Palermo or Cefalù, or both.

Photos, unless noted otherwise, are by me and my iPhone.

I wish I knew I how to do this.

Trust me, this is not a humblebrag.  You know when you ask someone how they’re doing and they reply, “BUSY!”?  Then they proceed to talk for twenty minutes about how busy they are?

I used to do the BUSY thing all the time when I lived in Los Angeles.  I broke out of that habit after living here a few years.  When Italians ask, “how are you?”, they really want to know.  It’s a conversation starter, not an opportunity to brag about how much work you do.  Nobody wants to hear that mess unless you are at a work conference or something.

While I have calmed down a bit since my big move, I still find myself feeling guilty for not working all the time.  I know there are people who never stop.  I did that during my Hollywood years but had nothing to show for it other than missed weddings back east, stress, and debt.

So I know I wasn’t healthy or happy during that time yet August in Rome continues to freak me out.  This week my vendors are closing up for the summer.  There is nothing I can do regarding deliveries, invoices, my projects, etc.

Last year when I went to Salina, I had a view like this,

IMG_2588

but I was constantly checking my emails and on the phone with my clients. However, that was in June.  August is another story.

In August I’m forced to slow down so why can’t I just chill the heck out without feeling guilty about it?  One of my favorite designers, Erin Gates of ELEMENTS OF STYLE, wrote a fantastic POST about the pressure we Americans put on ourselves to do it all.

It’s madness.  I told myself that this year would be different.   It’s not.  It’s only the 6th and instead of reveling in the summer, I want September to get here already.

My local caffe and many of my favorite restaurants are shutting down this week.  Only the places catering to tourists will be opened.  Most of my friends are gone and the rest are leaving next week.  Tumbleweeds will roll down Lungotevere.

I should try to follow my dad’s example.  He was an incredibly hard worker but he also knew how to relax.  He truly appreciated the little vacation and down time he had.  My mom also worked hard but NEVER relaxed.  Even on her days off from work she was going, going, going.  I used to think I was a combination of the two but no, I’m more like my mom.  There’s always something that must be done.

I have my own company.  You’d think I would be able to give myself a break and/or vacation.  No, instead I think if don’t burn the candle at both ends I won’t be able to succeed, which means I won’t be able to pay my rent, therefore I will end up living under the Ponte Sisto bridge.

Okay, this summer I am going to break the cycle, dammit!  I must do it for my mental, physical, and creative health.

We’ll see how the rest of the year shapes up as I start my quest to partake in the fine Italian tradition of Dolce Far Niente.

Any suggestions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I see the top of this church every time I walk across the piazza near my house.  Built from 1642-1660, it’s a classic work of Baroque architecture.  The architect was Francesco Borromini, aka arch enemy of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

IMG_7319

Photo: me with my iPhone

While I am down for Bernini, it’s unfortunate that Borromini is not appreciated more. His contemporaries were perceived as being stronger visual artists. Borromini’s strength was more technical but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the beauty of his buildings.

Borromini was extremely difficult to work with and often depressed.  He committed suicide in 1667.

This church is just one of his masterpieces and it inspires me.

Buon weekend!

 

 

 

I’ve written before about my fascination with abandoned houses.

On Via del Governo Vechhio there’s an empty palazzo that I’ve walked by many times.  Unlike some other big cities I’ve lived in, there are very few vacant buildings in the center of Rome.  So much so that they truly stand out.

One morning I noticed there were riot police at the end of the block.  The doors of the building were opened and there was a large group of protesters inside.  They were demanding that the county (which owns the property) renovate the space into affordable housing.  I doubt that will happen given the location, red tape, and costs.

Built in the late 1400s by Cardinal Stefano Nardiini, I had to check it out.

IMG_5868

I had no idea that this building was so large.

IMG_5856 IMG_5857 IMG_5859 IMG_5860 IMG_5867

I hope something wonderful happens with this space.  It’s a shame that it’s just sitting there, empty.

A few weeks ago I went to Anguilla to check in on one of my projects.  The build is going very well.

When I think of the mood for a beach house, the first thing that comes to mind is relaxation.

I’ve been looking at books in my library and pulling images from the internet for inspiration.  The bathrooms don’t have to be from a Caribbean beach house but must have some elements that would work in that environment.

There are many decisions that have to be made. What kind of finishes? What color? If we use tile, what size?

While this is a house in Anguilla, the style will not be British Colonial.  It’s too formal for a beach house.  There will be touches (like a mahogany four-poster bed) of course but mixed with a contemporary spin on Caribbean design.

Below are few spaces that caught my eye:

This bathroom is from a home on the tiny Island of Mustique.  I love the natural feel of it.  We’re already using poured cement for the kitchen counter tops. To use it again in the bathrooms might be too much.

3_1286399055_ED_0406_Mustique_10-lgn-1

Photo: Elle Decor

This large en-suite bathroom in a Sicilian villa has a stone sink.  Love the simplicity of the shower stall and the use of wooden stools.  This is a newish boutique hotel.  I must see Rocca delle Tra Contrade in person.  The photos are stunning.

trecontradesicily10

Photo: Rocca delle Tre Contrade

I’m not a fan of shower caddies.

Our clients for the Tuscany project were very clear that they wanted built-in spaces for shampoo, soap, etc.   If it’s early enough in the build/renovation, I recommend going in this direction.  Just make sure there’s a slight slope, so water doesn’t pool in the space.

A partial wall works for this project.  It never gets cold.

016461ed4b43a85dfcc8cda63ee34e88

Photo: Elements Of Style

Getting away from the neutrals for a minute, this bathroom from the La Banane hotel on St. Barths is very bright and colorful.

A fun design like this might be a great idea for one of the smaller bathrooms.  Or the powder room.  In a large space this color and pattern would be not be relaxing to me.

PITER09BANANE0965_low-910x910

Photo: Villa La Banane

Brass fixtures are having a moment.  I like them in this bathroom.  I look at all this tile and worry about cleaning the grout.

14.+grey+and+white+march+2014+habituallychic

Photo: Habitually Chic

I LOVE outdoor showers.  The ones at Cap Juluca in Anguilla are fantastic.

luxurybath

Photo: Cap Juluca

A more traditional style at Oscar de la Renta’s former home in the Dominican Republic.

132-1024x730

A shower in Marrakesh.  Fantastic built-in bench.

45-720x1024

Photos: Mark D Sikes

I don’t know where this house is but I like the contrast of the stone-tiled floor with the black contemporary trim on the windows and with the lines of the tub.

d2b027e91efe2266e1ad3aff2a060463

Photo: Pinterest

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,110 other followers