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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

What a week.

Just when you think Italian politics couldn’t be more confusing or bizarre, they are.   I have no idea what is going to happen now.  Maybe we’ll have new elections.

The Pope said good-bye yesterday.  The city is packed with tourists who came to see him for the last time.  Cardinals are flying in for the conclave and there are journalists in town from all over the world.

Work-wise, things were hectic. I’m not sure how it’s Friday already.

Yesterday, Domenico and I drove up to Tuscany to visit the job site and to meet with our client who flew in from Germany.  Normally, we would stay overnight but we decided to make it a day trip and left Rome at 6:30 a.m.

It was a very long day.   At one point my brain said, “BASTA!” and refused to cooperate.  It was around the time I was asking the contractor questions in Italian and then translating his answers into English.

On the drive back home, all I could think about was taking a long shower, getting in my PJs, and then watching Law and Order SVU reruns on Fox Crime (I have a thing for Detective Stabler).

I wish I had a shower like this:

A shower at MonteverdiUnfortunately, I do not.

The shower in the photo was designed by Ilaria Miani for Monteverdi.   Monteverdi is a group of rental villas and a hotel in the small village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro in Tuscany.

Stunning.  I hope to check it out sometime later this year.

In the meantime, Stabler and I will be relaxing this weekend.

Buon Weekend!

I was recently hired by the very talented architect Domenico Minchilli to work on the interiors for a home in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy.

Words cannot adequately express how excited I am about this project.

Chianti, Tuscany

Chianti, Tuscany

We have a mid/late Spring deadline.

One of the bathrooms post demolition.

One of the bathrooms post demolition.

Early on, I started to pull images for an inspiration board on Pinterest. Some of the images came from books in my library, photos from my travels, or from my favorite websites. Originally, I had over sixty-five images. It was a great visual tool and helped me see the big picture. I kept that version of the board private so I could show Domenico what I was thinking.

Once I had a clearer idea of what the client wanted/needed for their home, I put together a mood board in Photoshop for each room. There has to be a separate post about Photoshop… DRAMA.

Fabric for sofas and chairs.

Fabric for sofas and chairs.

I had written a much longer post but deleted it. It was way too sappy.

However, I will say I’m thrilled to be working with such an incredible group of people and that 2013 is off to a great start.

I saw marble everywhere.

Surfers taking advantage of the big waves after a rain storm.

Beach club in Marina di Pietrasanta before sunrise.

A sidewalk made of marble.

View of the sun rising from the Forte dei Marmi pier.

Delicious branzino at Pinocchio a Pietrasanta.

Michelangelo slept here.

 Fresco.

The pretty piazza in Pietrasanta.

Botero cat.

Botero exhibit.

I haven’t spent that much time in Tuscany.  I’ve been to Florence, Siena, and the tiny town of Terriciola which isn’t too far from Pisa.

I was going to stay in Rome for my birthday.  However, the horrendous heat, the fact that 99 percent of my friends were gone for Ferragosto, and dealing with screaming drunk American college students and loud high school Italian teenagers on my street pushed me over the edge.  I booked a trip out of town.

My friend Michelle, who lives in Milan, told me about Versilia.  Her husband happened to be in the area that weekend. He was dropping off their young son who was going to stay at his great aunt’s house.  He showed me around Versilia.

I don’t know if it was escaping from the heat or what but I fell in love with this part of the Tuscan coast.  Sometimes referred to as the Tuscan Riviera, Versilia is in the Northwest part of Tuscany.

I stayed in the town of Marina di Piestrasanta. I had no idea I was so close to the Forte dei Marmi border.  The two towns share a great park filled with pines trees.  The smell was glorious.

Marina di Piestrasanta was a little more laid back.  Forte dei Marmi reminded me of the Hamptons/Martha’s Vineyard.

There were all these super chic people on their bicycles whose families have been going to the area for decades.  Then you’d turn a corner and see a Veline/showgirl with massive fake breasts, injected duck lips, and a much older man on her arm.  As with the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard, the new money is pushing up the price of real estate sky high.  Many locals worry about losing stores like a butcher shop or pasty shop to another high-end clothing store.

FDM has become very popular with wealthy Russians.  Most of the real estate offices had signs in Italian and Russian.

I know this is going to sound nuts, but it was so weird not to see any Americans or hear English.  Yes, I live in Italy, but Rome has a lot of tourists and American expats.  All the tourists in my hotel were Italian or German. There wasn’t a single flip-flop girl sighting the whole weekend. I wonder why that is.

Above Marina di Piestrasanta is the hill town of Pietrasanta.  This small town was packed with art.  The famous artist Botero has been going to Pietrasanta for thirty years and has a home in town.  To celebrate his 80th birthday, there was a large (and free) exhibition of his work.

Versilia has been popular with artists for centuries. Michelangelo stayed in Pietrasanta.  What looks like snow on the Apuan Alps is actually marble.

On my next trip I would like to visit one of the marble quarries.  Speaking of marble, some of the SIDEWALKS in Forte dei Marmi were made from the expensive material.

I’m definitely spoiled by Caribbean beaches.  It’s strange that I would love to have a place in the area but I probably wouldn’t join a beach club.  I loved the beach town vibe but didn’t love the beaches.

People were very friendly and the food was delicious. I drank a lot of Franciacorta.

Overall, I had a great birthday weekend.  I had one moment of, “everyone is here is with someone or their family, and I’m alone” but it passed pretty quickly.   I think it helped to be surrounded by so much beauty, delicious food, and the sea.

The night of my birthday I went to the Principe Hotel roof bar for a glass of Franciacorta after dinner.  The views were stupendous.  I believe the views were the reason my glass of wine was double the price of what I paid at dinner even though it was from the same vineyard.

That’s okay, as the kids would say YOLO, you only live once.

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