The transformation of older homes invariably involves ripping down walls, removing pokey old dark rooms and replacing them with an open plan layout. Villa A Guarene, an Italian villa in Girona, was subject to this typical procedure.
This approach has become so incredibly popular that some have started to question the validity of the process. Are open plan layouts a fad or do they add real value to our interior lives? But one only has to look at the new Villa A Guarene to see how powerful an open plan layout can really be. The transformation here is so dramatic and appealing that we wonder if the original inhabitants might have even preferred open plan living when it was uncool!
The separated living style has been around for aeons and in this home, it feels like the decor was insufferably old too! The interior had a decidedly 80s flavour, together with all the associated lighting choices and cabinetry. Interior architect Roberta Castelli got to work and completely transformed the home. Come with us to explore her journey.
Ornate wooden kitchen cabinets, clutter and narrow bench spaces… This is a kitchen in dire need of reorganisation! The L-shaped layout also forces the chef to keep their back to the rest of the living area and the central dining table results for a pokey kitchen and a congested walkway.
The super bright, streamlined modern kitchen is a drastic improvement from its previous incarnation. The smooth and uninterrupted surfaces of the silver handleless kitchen cupboards really make the space appear large and fresh. The bench space has been completely reorganised so that the chef can now face the main living area and the bench-top is wider to allow for more preparation space. A standing oven and microwave unit has been added for a very streamlined and minimalist look. But it's the lighting and lowered ceiling that really adds that warm and sophisticated look to the space. Multiple dimmable LED lights add a very soft and welcoming glow to the room.
Note the new integrated eating area. We will explore that in a moment.
The dining area seems quite isolated in the dining room. It also doubles as a walkway and there is a lot of unused space. The decor is heavy and the wooden finishes are decidedly dated. Although the wooden finishes match, the heavy and varying decorations result in a very disparate decor. Despite the unused and bare area in the centre, it actually feels quite cluttered, dim and dull.
The wall separating the kitchen from the dining room has been removed and the effect is spectacular. The kitchen is now a sleek, modern and integrated social gathering place. Tearing down the wall adds that bit more space so there is now room for an extra seating area in the background. The single, unattractive ceiling light has been removed and replaced with LED lights hidden behind a partially dropped ceiling. Note the wall feature in the background. A partially distressed map of the world evokes a little of the older spirit of the whole within a whole new context.
The older living room was incredibly drab and cluttered. The furniture was too large for the space and it was hardly an inspiring room.
The new area has been rotated so it is connected to the kitchen. White furnishings, a pale timber floor and various, recessed lights add an incredibly vibrant atmosphere to the space. Note the new transparent grey glass doors. They are far lighter than the old, heavy wooden doors. They allow for a flow of light and air to pass through the living spaces and ensure there's a more free-flowing atmosphere.
The old wooden staircase might have been homely back in the mid-1980s, but it had become incredibly dated. It was heavy, cumbersome and completely dominated this corner of the house. It simply had too much visual weight for a modern home.
The new minimalist staircase is light and completely unobtrusive. It is still a three-quarter-style staircase, but the wall has been extended so as to cover the turn. Another reason for the lightness here is that the material used on the treads now matches the pale timber floor. There's a streamlined, simple and modern look now.
The old bedroom was cold, dark and dated. Let's just ignore the furniture and clutter for a moment and look at the high ceiling and dark floor. It's hardly a welcoming or cosy bedroom.
The bedroom walls have been painted a warm, cream white. The ceiling has been partially suspended and we see the same sophisticated recessed lighting from the other rooms. The total effect is warm, modern and unified. We particularly love how the suspended ceiling mirrors the shape of the bed.
We will finish our tour with the bathroom. We imagine this is a room the designers were really keen to get started on. A series of temporary storage units with open shelves have been installed and there's a whole lot of visual and physical clutter. All the units and accessories are rather narrow and tall.
This is our favourite room. Every tool in the decorator's handbook has been used here to make this bathroom appear larger. All the itsy, bitsy little accessories have been removed and hidden away because we now have a big handleless storage unit. The wide vanity has a super wide mirror that really makes the space appear larger. It has also been lifted off the ground to allow the eye to move around the space more freely. A strong, yet ambient light has been hidden behind the mirror and the tiles have been completely removed.
If you like dramatic transformation projects, you'll love this Ideabook: Before and after: a new lease of life for an Italian attic.