Let's take a peek inside an Italian country house, located in a forest in Brenzone, at the foot of Mount Baldo in Italy, and designed by the architect Paola Favretto. This house boasts magnificent lake views, and is an wonderful example of the how a connection between architecture and place can be created through careful and sympathetic attention to detail. The house consists of two levels: the first is characterised by the use of stone from the slopes of Monte Baldo and the contrast of barrel vaults with plastered white walls. The second level is an old barn which has been transformed into a bedroom, with the old beams preserved and enhanced to create a clean and calm space. It's a house of contrasts—between rough stone and smooth tile; and between the cosy, cave-like first level and the high-ceilinged, airy second level. A terrace opens the home up to its surroundings, with commanding views over the lake.
The stand-out feature of this home is the natural local stone used to construct the walls on the first level. The furniture is modern and in a neutral white, so as not to detract from the stunning stone walls. The furniture's texture is also deliberately smooth, contrasting beautifully with the warm, rough edges of the stone. The barrel vaulted shape echoes the hillside on which the house is perched, creating a snug yet airy effect that's comfortingly cave-like. Light-coloured tiles help to reflect natural light, a necessary enhancement with ceilings this low. Similarly, the coffee table and TV stand are kept close to the ground, and the effect is to create a space that's intimate without being claustrophobic.
A magnificent view over the lake is complimented by the use of rough natural stone, while the blue of the water is reflected in the lounge chairs. Sympathetic to its surroundings, the natural stone wall blends with the stone of the cliff opposite, creating an uninterrupted view of nature.
The main structure defines the space, but accessories elevate it. An open staircase is given a 'bannister' with rustic pots whose rich brown complements the cream tones in the white stairs. A sense of space is created, and paradoxically, the very openness of the staircase becomes more visible thanks to its 'enclosure' in this way.
On the second level, a converted barn houses the master bedroom, which, in contrast with the first level, has high ceilings and a wide-open aspect. The beams have been preserved and enhanced, and the space left uncluttered to create a calming and relaxed space. Details such as the headboard are in a traditional Italian rustic style; a nod to this home's heritage, as are the unfinished walls, whose gentle imperfections have been preserved. A ladder leads up to a raised sleeping platform snuggled under the eaves.
The kitchen mixes tradition and modernity, with a rustic shelving unit offset against smooth stainless steel worktops and modern lighting. Gauzy curtains pick up the traditional theme, as does the crockery.
Like the lounge area, the dining space has those striking stone walls. Here, the colour scheme is based on browns that contrast with the bricks, while picking up the tone of the mortar. A high-gloss finish on the dining table creates a reflective surface that simultaneously picks up the roughness of the walls, and stands in contrast with it. A delicate glass chandelier adds a further note of contrast, and is a quirkily elegant feature in an otherwise rustic room.
The view from the windows down through this room to the dining space is glorious, and gives full voice to the striking series of contrasts that make up this home.