In Italy, Giving a Long Unoccupied Farmhouse a Loving Restoration

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In Italy’s “heel,” an unoccupied location successful mediocre information received a loving restoration.

Two men beryllium   connected  a sofa, 1  connected  the arm, successful  a reimagined, high-ceilinged country   painted successful  a khaki-like color.
Andrew Trotter, left, and Marcel Martinez, astatine Casa Soleto, a centuries-old location they person restored successful the confederate Pugliese municipality of Soleto.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times

Sept. 1, 2023, 11:06 a.m. ET

This nonfiction is portion of our Design peculiar section astir caller interpretations of antique plan styles.

One mightiness picture Andrew Trotter’s passionateness for Puglia, successful confederate Italy, arsenic a dilatory burn. The British-born, Barcelona-based decorator archetypal visited the region, which forms the bottommost of Italy’s geographic boot, astir a decennary ago. His adjacent person Carlo Lanzini planned to make a boutique edifice that would cater to the increasing fig of travelers lured by Puglia’s charming medieval villages, its sun-bleached scenery dotted with past olive groves and its astir 500 miles of coastline, featuring picturesque coves with limestone cliffs and beauteous soil beaches.

Mr. Lanzini enlisted his assistance successful uncovering and renovating a masseria, the sanction of the accepted whitewashed farmhouses recovered crossed the Pugliese countryside. “We went twice, some times successful the winter, and I didn’t really similar it precise much,” said Mr. Trotter. “It’s a spot that’s grown connected maine alternatively than an contiguous love.”

At that clip Mr. Trotter, who is 51, had precocious near a vocation successful fashion, launched a short-lived Barcelona plan store and co-founded Openhouse, a boutique and assemblage that evolved into a semiannual interiors and manner magazine, with his person Mari Luz Vidal, a photographer. Having studied interior plan and spent a twelvemonth astatine the London steadfast of Anouska Hempel successful the aboriginal ’90s, it was a instrumentality to his roots.

When Mr. Lanzini yet decided to conception a caller masseria-inspired gathering for his edifice venture, adjacent the municipality of Ostuni, Mr. Trotter enactment himself guardant to oversee its design. After immoderate convincing, helium got the gig, and the resulting six-guestroom Masseria Moroseta “very rapidly became a small spot famous,” arsenic Mr. Trotter enactment it, starring to different commissions designing and renovating abrogation homes successful Puglia, including for Mr. Lanzini arsenic good arsenic caller clients who admired Mr. Trotter’s minimalist yet lukewarm aesthetic.


A cozy lounge successful 1 of the 2 chapels successful the house.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times


The open-air courtyard serves arsenic the introduction to the two-story residence.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times

While Studio Andrew Trotter soon had projects successful locations astir the world, Mr. Trotter and his home spouse — the firm’s concern manager, Marcelo Martinez, 31, who is Spanish — continued to question to Puglia regularly. They decided to look for a residence successful the portion that could service arsenic their basal and arsenic an income-generating rental spot erstwhile they weren’t utilizing it. Their hunt led them to the confederate Pugliese municipality of Soleto, successful the bosom of the Salento peninsula, wherever a centuries-old house, tucked into a cobbled alley, caught their attention. “The municipality is precise sleepy, and it’s thing I emotion astir the existent southbound of Puglia, which is precise untouristic. In the smaller villages you consciousness similar you’re successful a movie, similar ‘Cinema Paradiso,’” Mr. Trotter said, adding, “We’re the youngest radical successful Soleto.”

Even though an connection had already been made connected the house, the mates convinced the cause to fto them person a look. Behind the beforehand partition and arched chromatic gross with ample woody doors, an open-air courtyard served arsenic the introduction to the two-story residence. Expanded successful stages implicit time, the location incorporated 2 vaulted chapels, 1 estimated to beryllium 400 years old, portion parts of the precocious level were believed to person been added arsenic precocious arsenic the 1920s.

The household that antecedently owned the spot hadn’t utilized it successful a agelong time, but galore of their belongings remained, untouched. “There were apparel and furniture, artwork, photos of the family,” said Mr. Trotter. “But for astir 20 years, cipher had travel to the house. Nothing worked. There was nary moving water, nary electricity. There was a spread successful the backmost plot wherever the sewage went to.”


The mates repurposed overmuch of the artwork that had been near hanging connected the walls.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times


Local craftsmen restored the wood cabinets successful the kitchen.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times

Not to mention, determination was lone 1 bathroom, the walls were wonky and decaying, and the lone mode to ascent to the 2nd level was by an exterior staircase successful the beforehand courtyard. “That quirkiness is what gives charm to the house,” Mr. Martinez said. Features similar a 15-foot vaulted ground-floor ceiling gave the interior a quality and temper that a specified glimpse astatine plans and snapshots did not reveal.

Also, the location was precisely the size they wanted, and it had a plot with capable abstraction for a tiny pool. When the different connection fell through, they “just went for it,” Mr. Trotter said. (He declined to divulge however overmuch the mates paid for the property.)

Mr. Trotter and Mr. Martinez, who discussed the task implicit Zoom from Barcelona, set astir updating the location for modern living, making it comfy and simply stylish, portion retaining arsenic galore elements arsenic imaginable to sphere the home’s distinctiveness and historical feeling. They dubbed it Casa Soleto.

For convenience and rentability, they added 3 upstairs baths truthful that each chamber has its own, positive a pulverization country connected the crushed floor, each of which meant putting successful extended plumbing. New electrical systems were installed, though lighting was kept minimal. Many of the antique doors and existing floors — terrazzo tile oregon polished factual — were preserved, and portions of the extortion and walls were repaired.


The mates worked to sphere the home’s distinctiveness and historical feeling.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times


Earthy tones from dusty beige to chocolaty brownish to airy greenish were utilized passim the house.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times

On the crushed floor, wherever the rustic walls were built with stones and world up to 3 feet thick, Mr. Trotter and Mr. Martinez had to regenerate expanses of cement plaster added successful the past period that were trapping moisture within. Throughout the location the walls person been refinished successful subtly textured lime plasters oregon washes, successful earthy tones from dusty beige to chocolaty brownish to airy green. All were made by Domingue Architectural Finishes, 1 of a fistful of firms the mates partnered with connected the project.

The Scandinavian furnishings institution Frama provided an assortment of clean-lined wood tables, chairs and stools that complemented the premix of antiques and elemental upholstered seating clad successful solid, neutral linens. The Australian carpet shaper Armadillo provided the jute rugs that are recovered successful astir rooms. (In speech for their contributions, the companies tin usage Casa Soleto’s images and communicative successful their marketing.)

Mr. Trotter and Mr. Martinez, who spoke by telephone and implicit Zoom, kept immoderate of the furnishings near by the erstwhile owners, including ample woody weapon cases they repurposed arsenic java tables, a fewer beds with distinctive headboards and, successful the largest bedroom, a glass-front furniture filled with aged books accumulated by the doc who erstwhile owned the house.

Resisting the impulse to contemporize the kitchen, they alternatively worked with section craftsmen to reconstruct the wood cabinets, replicating them for further storage, and to make fronts for a built-in refrigerator and dishwasher. They installed an ILVE scope that’s “quite aged school,” said Mr. Martinez. “The extremity was to marque everything functional and up-to-date, but without trying to bash thing excessively modern oregon retired of place.”


The Australian carpet shaper Armadillo provided the jute rugs.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times


The plot features a tiny pool.Credit...Roberto Salomone for The New York Times

The mates utilized a just magnitude of the artwork that had been near hanging connected the walls, a premix of unattributed landscapes, inactive lifes and portraits. But they besides commissioned caller works from Eleanor Herbosch, an Antwerp-based creator who made 3 abstract paintings mixing ink with ungraded excavated from beneath the location and from the garden.

Ms. Herbosch’s works bent prominently successful the atmospheric eating room, which occupies the aboriginal of the 2 chapels, astatine the beforehand of the house, and a cozy lounge successful the older chapel astatine the back, wherever they opted for a darker, moodier palette. “We wanted it to beryllium a spot similar a cave wherever you spell and ticker a movie oregon conscionable bent out, work a book,” Mr. Trotter said.

The plot has been wholly reimagined, with a plunge excavation and plantings selected with proposal from the London scenery decorator Luciano Giubbilei. A terrace connected to the largest chamber overlooks the garden, portion a smaller balcony disconnected the beforehand chamber offers views of the adjacent Gothic doorbell operation commissioned by the medieval nobleman Raimondo Orsini del Balzo. “It rings astatine 6:30 each morning, and connected Sundays it’s not conscionable a elemental bong-bong-bong,” Mr. Trotter said. “It keeps going, each 20 minutes.”

Completed successful July, the renovation of Casa Soleto took 2 years, and there’s thing other similar it successful town. “The politician and the clergyman came to spot the house,” Mr. Trotter said. “Italians similar to marque everything caller and perfect, and we’ve done it successful a mode that it inactive feels old, truthful I deliberation they don’t get it.” But for him and Mr. Martinez, helium added, “true luxury is not astir being successful super-polished perfection.”

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